Nutrition Check: Celebrating fruits and vegetables

By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN and Caroline Jury BS

Let us celebrate National Fruits and Vegetable month by putting the rainbow on our plates.

Both fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and even water. Adding produce will make the plate more colorful, add a great taste, and provide additional health benefits. The challenge most individuals have these days is to get themselves and their families to eat these nutrient-dense foods. Here are some tips to encourage them:

  1. Be a good example. Both adults and children learn more by observing their caregivers/peers; Another person is more likely to eat them if they see you enjoying fruits and vegetables.
  2. If you take your child(ren) grocery shopping, let them help you pick one or two vegetables or fruits for the week. This allows them to have shared decision making for meals and snacks that include produce. It may take a bit longer than your usual grocery run, but this will give your child(ren) a new appreciation of these healthy treats.
  3. Eating fruits and vegetables for snacks, why not? Some examples include:
    1. Celery sticks, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, squash slices or peas with natural peanut butter, hummus or a salad of your choice. To add some sweetness, add some raisins in the mix.
    2. Fruit slices or whole fruits (apples, bananas, avocado, mango, pineapple, papaya, melon)
  4. Provide positive reinforcement by praising your child, friend, and family members when they eat fruit/vegetables, especially if they try something new.
  5. Try a new vegetable or fruit every time you go to the grocery store, or you can make it one to two a week. Another option is to visit a non-chain grocery store to see what varieties you may try. Some non-chain grocery stores include international markets (African, Caribbean, Spanish, Asian etc.)

Exploring the different colors of fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to put the rainbow on your plate. It adds color with a bonus of much-needed nutrients like vitamins and minerals to help our bodies be in their best condition, regardless of our age. So what color are you going to try today? You can also visit Florida Medical Association’s Healthy Living Toolkit to get more ideas of fruits and vegetable colors and their benefits:

Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida.

Leave a Comment