Did you know?
- In NSW, 56% of primary students and 80% of secondary students do not eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables.
- Research shows that watching a lot of TV is associated with children and teenagers drinking more soft drink and not eating enough fruit and vegetables.
- Fruit and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
- Eating fruit and vegetables every day helps children and teenagers grow and develop, boosts their vitality and can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases - such as heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer and being overweight or obese.
How many serves do kids and teens need?
All of us need to eat a variety of different coloured fruit and vegies every day – both raw and cooked. The recommended daily amount for kids and teens depends on their age, appetite and activity levels – see table below for recommended serves per day.
Recommended daily serves of fruit and vegetables by age
Note: One serve of fruit is 150 grams (equal to 1 medium-sized apple; 2 smaller pieces (e.g. apricots); 1 cup of canned or chopped fruit; ½ cup (125ml) 99% unsweetened fruit juice; or 1½ tablespoons dried fruit).
One serve of vegetables is 75 grams (equal to ½ cup cooked vegetables; 1 medium potato; 1 cup of salad vegetables; or ½ cup cooked legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils).
Fresh fruit is a better choice than juice
While whole fruit contains some natural sugars that make it taste sweet, it also has lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which makes it more filling and nutritious than a glass of fruit juice.
One small glass of juice provides a child’s recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Unfortunately, many children regularly drink large amounts of juice and this can contribute to them putting on excess weight.
How to help kids and teens eat more fruit and vegies
Eating more fruit and vegies every day can sometimes be a struggle. However, research shows that we’re more likely to do so if they’re available and ready to eat.
Children may need to try new fruits and vegies up to 10 times before they accept them. So stay patient and keep offering them. It can also help to prepare and serve them in different and creative ways.
Some ideas to try:
- Involve the whole family in choosing and preparing fruit and vegies.
- Select fruit and vegies that are in season – they taste better and are usually cheaper.
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit in the home.
- Be creative in how you prepare and serve fruit and vegetables - such as raw, sliced, grated, microwaved, mashed or baked; serve different coloured fruit and vegies or use different serving plates or bowls.
- Include fruit and vegies in every meal. For example, add chopped, grated or pureed vegetables to pasta sauces, meat burgers, frittatas, stir-fries and soups, and add fruit to breakfast cereal.
- Snack on fruit and vegies. Try corn on the cob; jacket potato topped with reduced fat cheese; plain popcorn (unbuttered and without sugar or salt coating); chopped vegies with salsa, hummus or yoghurt dips; stewed fruit; fruit crumble; frozen fruit; or muffins and cakes made with fruit or vegies.
- Try different fruits or vegies on your toast – banana, mushrooms or tomatoes.
- Add chopped or pureed fruit to plain yoghurts.
- Make a fruit smoothie with fresh, frozen or canned (in natural or unsweetened juice) fruit; blend it with reduced fat milk and yoghurt.
- Chop up some fruit or vegie sticks for the lunchbox.
- In summer, freeze fruit on a skewer (or mix with yoghurt before freezing) for a refreshing snack.
- Make fruit-based desserts (such as fruit crumble or baked, poached or stewed fruit) and serve with reduced fat custard.
- Have fresh fruit available at all times as a convenient snack – keep the fruit bowl full and have diced fruit in a container in the fridge.
Visit the Recipes section to find easy and inspiring ideas for preparing fruits and vegies. Put your enthusiasm into practice!