Thoughtful Parenting: An apple a day … |

Thoughtful Parenting: An apple a day …

Barb Parnell / For the Steamboat Today

Last week, we introduced the Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 framework to help you create a healthier home environment, and Tip No. 1 was making mealtime a family affair. This week's focus is on the "5" component of Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 — eating at least five vegetables and fruits every day.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals needed to support healthy growth and development and for optimal immune function.

What is a serving?

For adults, a serving of fruits and vegetables is equal to an entire fruit the size of a tennis ball; 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or veggies; 1 cup of raw, leafy greens; or a 1/2 cup of dried fruits.

For toddlers, a serving is one-quarter to one-half of an adult-size portion.

For preschool-age kids, a serving equates to about the size of the palm of their hand, which is close to the same size as an adult serving.

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A good general rule is to serve about 1 tablespoon per year of age for each type of food offered. Always start with one serving of each food that you have chosen, and then let your child decide how much to eat. Children's appetites change from day to day. It is OK if your child does not eat a whole serving or asks for more food. Don't force more food or stop your hungry child from eating. Try to provide meals and snacks at the same time every day and offer them a variety of foods in child-size servings.

How can you get your child to eat more fruits and vegetables?

Use the three-bite rule. Offer new fruits and veggies in different ways and encourage your child to try at least three bites each time. Did you like spinach the first time you tried it? Remember, it can take seven to 10 times before they will like a new food.

Additional suggestions:

■ Make a fruit smoothie with low-fat yogurt. Add spinach, and they won't even know it is there.

■ Add fruits and veggies to food you already make.

■ Wash and chop veggies and fruits so they are ready to grab and eat.

■ Add healthy dips such as salsa or hummus.

■ Mix it up!

■ Change the way you identify a "treat." A "treat" is now a fruit and vegetable instead of the other high-fat, high-sugar foods typically associated with "treats."

■ Be a good role model and eat your fruits and veggies, too.

Finally, don't underestimate the importance of family meal time; take 10 to 15 minutes to sit down together at least one time each day.

For more information about Let's Go! 5-2-1-0, visit or email Barb Parnell, LiveWell Northwest Colorado community coordinator, at

At a glance

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0

■ 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables

■ 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time

■ 1 or more hours of physical activity

■ 0 sugary drinks

Source: LiveWell Northwest Colorado

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