Help! My kids won't eat enough vegetables and fruits

school age boy not looking happy to eat broccoli

It can be hard to get your kids to eat vegetables and fruit. You are not alone! Many children don’t eat enough  vegetables and fruit. Here are a few easy tips to get your children to enjoy their vegetables and fruit and meet their nutritional needs.

Five tips to get your child to love their vegetables and fruit

1. Lead by example

  • Your children will want to try new vegetables and fruit if they see others at the table eating them. When you make healthy food choices for yourself, you are teaching your kids about healthy eating.
  • If time is an issue, skip cooking the vegetables and serve them raw with a salad dressing, hummus, or Greek yogurt as a dip. You can also throw frozen vegetables in cooked dishes. There is no washing or chopping!
  • Keep fruit where your kids can access them for a quick snack. Cut up oranges, mangos, pineapple, peaches or pears and put them in a plastic container in the fridge. Keep a fruit bowl full of apples, plums and bananas on the kitchen table.

2. Get your kids involved

  • Take your children grocery shopping. Make eating vegetables and fruit a game of colours. Ask your children to find different coloured vegetables or fruit to have for snacks during the week.
  • Involve your children in preparing lunch. Let them choose which vegetables and fruit they want packed.
  • Visit a farmer’s market or a local farm. This will teach your children about where food comes from. 

3. Introduce new vegetables and fruit with familiar foods

  • Take the pressure off.  Serve a new food alongside familiar vegetables and fruit.
  • Try roasted cubes of sweet potato with white potato or a mixed kabob alternating between new and familiar vegetables or fruit.

4. Try, try again

  • Most children need to be introduced to a new food 10 to 15 times before they will try it. So, don't give up on any vegetable or fruit. Try different ways of preparing the vegetable or fruit. For example, if your child won’t eat carrot sticks, maybe they would eat grated carrot. 
  • Give new vegetables and fruit to your children as often as possible, especially when they are young. The earlier you start, the better.

5. Add variety

  • Buy vegetables and fruit in season. During the winter months, frozen vegetables and fruit tend to be a better buy and they are just as nutritious as fresh.
  • Try experimenting with one new vegetable or fruit a month.

Easy, kid-friendly recipes 

Check out our Award Winning Kid-Friendly Recipes for new ideas. There are so many creative ways to add vegetables and fruits to your child’s day.  

Fruit ideas 

Banana Whole Grain Griddle Cakes: These are a twist on the family tradition, filled with the taste of ripe sweet bananas that kids will love.

Ground up Frog Smoothie: Appeal to your kids’ sense of humour and taste buds with this green drink.

Moose Cakes: Use fruits to make different animal shapes with a muffin face.

Super Fruit Face: Let your child use new and favourite fruits to build a face on a plate of yogurt.

Vegetable ideas

Bagel Boomerang: An interesting mix of cheese, apple and avocado.

Carrot Apple Salad: This is perfect for a healthy snack but will also make a great side dish for lunch or dinner.

Colourful Layered Sandwich: This twist on an egg salad sandwich pairs carrots and beets for layers of fun. 

Edible Butterfly Quesadilla: Cut up your quesadilla and add vegetables to make the shape of butterfly.

Funny Face Pizza: This pizza doesn’t take long to make and your child can add their favourite toppings to make it different every time.

Yummy Tummy Clocks: This snack is a great way to teach time and enjoy a tasty snack!

How can a dietitian help? 

dietitian will make sure your child is getting important nutrients like protein, fibre, iron and calcium that your child needs to grow and be healthy. Your dietitian will make suggestions on how to boost the nutrition of the foods they are already eating and give you a plan on how to introduce new ones. They can also help you plan balanced school lunches and help you with reading labels. Connect with a dietitian today

The bottom line 

Getting your kids to love eating their vegetables and fruit may take some time, but it’s worth it!  Offer your children vegetables and fruit in fun ways and often. Let them choose what they want to eat from the healthy foods you serve.

You may also be interested in:

Picky eating: 10 fun tips to get kids to try new foods
Say Goodbye to Picky Eating!
Top 5 Reasons to See a Dietitian

This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider. 

Last Update – June 15, 2022

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