Annie Sasseville, a Denver mother, is a pediatric nutrition expert at Mile High Climbers Pediatric Wellness Practices. She offers the following tips for encouraging young ones to eat a healthier diet.
Favorite tips for parents:
- If you want your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, encourage them to connect with food. By this, I mean that most kids today have no idea if broccoli grows out of the ground or on a tree. Most kids don't know that those plastic wrapped baby carrots require a lot of man-made work to look that way! So help your kids understand where food comes, how it grows, how it looks coming out of the ground, and they need to see the natural colors and beauty of produce. By connecting with fruits and vegetables, kids will always be more likely to try them, I promise!
- If possible, start a fruit/vegetable garden in the backyard or consider purchasing a local community plot, if available. Even if your plot is small or you don't have a green thumb, don't sweat it. Most seeds just need a little bit of good soil, regular watering and lots of sunshine. And involve your kids in every step of the process. Take them with you to pick out the seeds, consider buying child-sized gardening tools, ask them to check on their blossoming plants every week and be sure to get their help at harvest time! You will be amazed at how much their interest and curiosity will peak when they have a role in helping the plants to grow.
- If starting a garden is not an option, no problem. You can start herbs, tomatoes or lettuce in a large pot outside. Herbs grow quickly, easily and really take off without much work. At our house, we grow a vegetable garden every year with a variety of veggies and herbs in it. And every summer, the neighborhood kids love to stop by to snack on lettuce, snow peas, dill and chives. Yes, dill and chives! Can you believe it? They love it straight it from the dirt!
- Also, visit your farmers' markets this summer--not only will you be supporting local agriculture and economy, you can teach your kids how vegetables appear shortly after harvesting. Produce always taste their best immediately after harvesting. And most markets offer fruit and vegetable samples--encourage your kids to try them.
- Lastly, encourage your kids to read books about fresh fruits and vegetables, and be sure to buy books which contain photos or drawing that accurately represent the real thing. One of my favorite books is Food Play by Joost Elffers and Saxton Freymann.
Annie Sasseville joined Mile High Climbers Pediatric Wellness Practices in 2009 as the pediatric nutrition expert, after 5+ years of experience at Denver Children's Hospital. Annie’s specialties include pediatric nutrition, vegetarian nutrition and adolescent sports nutrition.
As a dietitian and mother, Annie likes to teach other parents about the importance of good nutrition, but beware—she only provides realistic and practical solutions for your family!
You can also find Annie as a nutrition blogger on www.LiveStrong.com and www.GreatIdeasForKids.com.
When Annie is not spreading her enthusiasm for good health with others, you can find her running or playing outside with her husband and 3 year old daughter!