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Parenthood increases fruit and vegetable purchase

We are far from meeting fruit and vegetable goals as a country and our latest dietary guidelines document it extensively.  It’s curious though, that children between 1-8yrs old manage to squeak by with adequate amounts of fruit and fall just short of veggies, while adults continue to fail miserably in coming close to recommendations.      

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that adults tend to buy more produce once they have children.  As part of a large study, researchers observed almost 22,000 households over 8 years.  During that time 508 became parents for the first time.  They observed an increase in produce grocery dollars going from 13 to 15% when children entered the home.    So a family of four who spend $1000 a month on food, would spend 20$ more a month according to this study.

Connecting the dots, parents know fruits and veggies are an important source of essential vitamins and minerals and therefore want to make them available for children to eat.  It’s unclear though, if having children increases produce intake for the parents as well, but it’s possible!  The first step is getting fruits and veggies from the store, to the house!  If they’re not in the fridge, you’ll be hard pressed to get them to the table!

New parents should use this monumental life change to initiate good eating habits and lead by example.  It’s not possible to make children eat more fruits and veggies so modeling good eating patterns (like eating fruits at snack and mealtimes) can be a powerful teaching tool.  It takes time, but if it’s done regularly, it’s an influential way to introduce healthy habits in children, and possibly even get healthier yourself!    

Depending on age, children need about 1-1.5cups fruit and 1-2 cups vegetables daily.  This meal plan shows how meals and snacks can include fruits and veggies for a preschooler.    

Breakfast: 

1 cup crispy rice cereal

½ cup sliced banana

½ cup milk

Snack:

½ cup toasted oat cereal

½ cup diced pineapple

Lunch:

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 slice American cheese

1 ounce sliced chicken

¼ raw baby spinach

2Tbsp grated carrots

Afternoon Snack:

¼ cup sugar snap peas

1 string cheese

Dinner: 

¼ cup cooked pasta

2 Tbsp tomato sauce

1 turkey meatball

½ medium ear corn on the cob

½ cup milk

Published September 1st 2019

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