Children who dine with their parents are more likely to meet their recommended fruit and vegetable intake. This is because school-aged children learn by observing others. They may model or mimic the behavior of their family, friends and peers, so if you consume more fruits and vegetables, they may feel compelled to do the same. Adding new foods to your child’s diet may take some time but using rewards, such as stickers, may help to reinforce the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
A new study shows that children who regularly dine with their families are more likely to meet the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
How do we know this?
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows evidence supporting the idea that children mimic their parents’ eating habits. The study included 2,000 London primary school students. The parents/guardians provided researchers with information on family dining habits. Children who sometimes dined with their families ate 3.4 ounces more fruits and vegetables per day compared to those who never did. Those who regularly dined with their families at 4.5 ounces more fruits and vegetables per day compared to those who never did. Also, for every different type of produce consumed in the household, the children’s fruit and vegetable intake increased by .2 ounces per day.*
- Make family meals a part of your routine, even if you’re starting by adding just one meal together a week. And remember, it doesn’t have to be dinner. Breakfast, lunch and snacks count too!
- Include the kids in meal planning, shopping, and cooking. Kids love to help choose the foods they will eat—why not make it a healthy choice? Encourage them to select fruit and veggies they like, as well as something new.
- Get creative! Make your own fruit kabobs or individual veggie pizzas.
- Don’t forget the most important rule—set a good example! Parents and caregivers who eat more fruit and veggies are more likely to have kids that eat more fruit and veggies!