We all know we need to make sure our young ones are eating their fruit and veggies, but how much do they really need? Here’s a super-easy breakdown for you, plus our top tips on how to get them to eat the good stuff!
How much fruit and veg is enough?
Fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre so eating them daily is vital for the growth and development of young children. It also helps reduce the risk of illness such as heart disease, cancer and obesity. When you’re a busy parent though it’s pretty hard to stay on top of exactly how much they’ve had to eat in the day and many of us are not actually aware of what counts as enough.
According to the Australian Government’s Eat For Health website, the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables varies according to age. For toddlers and preschoolers the daily serving guide is as follows:
Age Fruit Vegetables
1-2 ½ serving 2-3 servings
2-3 1 serving 2½ servings
4-8 1½ servings 4½ servings
So what does that look like exactly?
One serving of fruit equals 150g, and one serving of vegetables is 75g. But who has time to get out the scales? A better way to look at it is like this:
One serving of fruit = 1 medium-sized apple OR 1 cup of chopped-up fruit OR 1½ tablespoons of dried fruit
One serving of vegetables = ½ cup of cooked vegetables or legumes OR ½ a medium potato OR 1 cup of salad vegetables
So, for example, in one day if your two-year-old eats 1 banana, ½ cup of steamed veg or mashed potato, 1 cup of cucumber and carrot sticks, and half an avocado – their fruit and veggie intake is covered. Sound like a lot? Don’t worry it can be easier than you think.
How to encourage kids to eat their fruit and veg
We get it; a lot of young children are super fussy when it comes to food – especially fruit and vegetables. If the above guidelines make your palms sweaty then don’t worry because here are some easy ways to make sure your little ones are getting enough of the good stuff:
- Have a bowl of fresh fruit out in plain sight for quick and easy snacks
- Keep cut-up vegetables sticks in the fridge so they’re always ready to eat
- Add vegetables to all meals where possible – e.g. dice or grate and add into pasta sauces, rissoles and soups
- Add fruit to meals and snacks – e.g. fruit puree to plain yoghurt, banana or sultanas on top of breakfast cereal, sneak zucchini or pumpkin into muffins
- Be creative with serving – use different plates and bowls such as bento boxes, make funny faces and shapes with vegetable and fruit pieces, or create fruit kebabs
- Snack on fruit and vegetables as a family – lead by example and let them choose which fruit or veg to eat
- Try new dishes and creations – e.g. banana on toast or a jacket potato with baked beans and cheese
- Reinvent treats – e.g. unbuttered/unsalted popcorn instead of chocolate, frozen blended bananas and berries instead of ice-cream, add blueberries to pancakes, homemade paddle pops with frozen yoghurt and fruit, or delicious fruit smoothies instead of sugar-loaded flavoured milk
- Get them to eat with other children – often kids copy what their friends are doing and eating, even if it’s a vegetable!
And if you STILL have trouble getting your toddler or preschooler to eat their fruit and veg, don’t despair! Just keep trying new things and don’t give up. As long as you keep offering fruit and vegetables with every meal, they’ll get there eventually.