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We eat a limited variety of fruits & veggies, but still the "colors of the rainbow"...are we missing any nutrients?

By Anonymous March 31, 2009 - 1:05pm
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I have a 3 year old, who is a picky eater. We offer her a large array of foods, but she is in one of those "eating phases", and I'm tired of throwing away uneaten produce (and wasting money!).

As far as produce, she will only eat:
peas, sweet potatoes, corn, apples, bananas, grapes, broccoli (soup) and blueberries (hidden in "healthier" pancakes).

My husband and I will eat these fruits & veggies, along with spinach salad.

If this is all the fruits & veggies that we eat in the next year, are we missing out on some important nutrients? I don't like to make several different meals, as I know my daughter is just in a food phase. She eats dairy, meat and starches well, and I know I'm not the first (or last) mom to say, "my child won't eat her veggies!".

I really want to know if there are a few other fruits or veggies that I should be focusing on adding, to "round out" the balance of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc)?


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Dear Anon, I think SusanC cover most of what I would have said. I think as parents we want to make sure our children are eating the necessary nutrients at each stage of their development. My favorite book on children's nutrition is one written by my kids' pediatrician, Dr William Sears and his wife Martha who is an RN. They have a great website with wonderful information on nutrition You may want to check it out at http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T040100.asp

Dr Sears and his two sons who are also pediatricians, are frequent guess on the Oprah and Dr Phil's shows. My favorite book is "The Family Nutrition Book", I highly recommended to every parent with growing children who want to make smart food choices.

April 1, 2009 - 11:38pm
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Thanks for your question and EVERY parent has a child who is either picky in general, or goes through a picky stage so what you are going through is what many parents are going through (including me!) Mostly these stages are not serious. As long as there is some variety, you are doing a good job, particularly with a 3 year old. Some 3 year olds will refuse anything other than mac and cheese or nuggets!

There are several levels of fiber that you need to look out for when shopping: "High" or "excellent" source (5+ grams of fiber per serving) and "Good" source of fiber (between 2 and 5 grams per serving).

Based on what she currently eats, I'll go through each item and how they benefit her :

The blueberries, bananas and broccoli that she eats are "good" sources of fiber. Bananas are also a source for potassium and broccoli also contain calcium. Apples are "high" in fiber.

Grapes are good for Vitamins A, B6, C and minerals like potassium, iron and calcium. Just make sure she doesn't overdo the grapes - they can bring a little too much sugar if she eats more than a generous handful.

Peas have protein, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc, as well as amino acids.

Sweet potatoes are wonderful - beta carotene, complex carbs (those are the good ones!) Vitamins C and B6 and fiber.

Blueberries also have Vitamins B6, C and K as well as fiber.

Corn is good for digestive health and is a good antioxidant.

So if you are combining these fruits and veggies, along with proteins and other healthy foods, you are doing a good job. Gradually introduce her to new fruits and veggies, like you obviously have been doing and within a year, she'll have an even better variety!

I agree with you on the frustration of throwing away foods and also wasting time preparing meals. It's very irritating and wasteful - especially these days!

Have you tried making smoothies for her? You can use bananas which always taste strongly in smoothies, and also incorporate carrots and strawberries - she'll never know a carrot is in there (and the juice of a carrot is very sweet). She'll think she is getting the best "dessert" ever! You can also incorporate many other fruits and veggies in these great smoothies until she gets a real taste for them. Make them fun - with a bright cup and a matching straw. Make food fun!

Cut new fruits and veggies into fun shapes or line them up and see if she can count them. Once she eats one, she can count again. A little basic math learning in there too!

There is also a book by Jerry Seinfeld's wife Jessica, called Deceptively Delicious - and shows you how to incorporate all the foods your kids "think" they hate into delicious meals. She uses tons of pureed veggies and kids don't even know they are eating them. While some think this is not a good idea, based on the assumption that they will stop eating the foods once they begin to feed themselves and will not appreciate a vegetable for being, well, a vegetable - many moms and dads have found it to be invaluable. Quite frankly, sometimes, as a parent, you do what you have to do to get your kids to eat a healthful diet.

I think you are doing a fantastic job so far! The wider variety will come in time.

Let me know if this has helped you and if you buy the book, let us know if it also helps!

Good luck to you, and to any of us parents out there who face the same challenges!

March 31, 2009 - 4:55pm
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