Why You Should Have Fruit at Meals (Even If You Don't Like It)

fruit varieties
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Dinnertime drama over foods that your family either loves or hates may have you catering to food whims or trying to avoid wasting food... and this doesn’t even account for the child who has to avoid certain foods because of a food allergy. But there's one strategy you can use that may help to calm the drama and bring back a time of harmony when everyone is getting along and actually eating the food you serve.

What is this magical strategy? Serve fruit.

Making fruit a part of your daily meals can help calm children's antics at mealtime and even can simplify meal planning if you have a child with a food allergy. If you play your cards right, serving fruit can even help you avoid food going to waste.

While fruit by itself likely won't transform your family meal (there’s a lot that goes into creating positive family meals, such as your feeding style, feeding practices and the pleasantness of the environment), fruit at every meal can help to encourage both children and adults to eat well, making family mealtimes more harmonious.

The Benefits of Fruit

Kids generally like fruit. They like to eat it and will eat it, often without much effort on your part. If you’re not serving fruit routinely with meals, it’s a good time to start. Include fruit on your menu for most, if not all, meals. It can be very simple, from including a bowl of whole fruit on your table to cutting up fruit, or peeling it so that it is easy for kids to eat.

Fruit also tends to be a safe option for kids and adults with food allergies, as they are low allergenic foods. Unless you have an allergy to a specific type of fruit, or a family of fruit, as with an oral allergy syndrome, it’s easy to avoid the allergen while still having quite a spread of fruit options from which to choose.

Secondly, instead of trying to get your children to eat more vegetables, serve them fruit. They're more likely to eat it and (generally speaking) it's just as healthy. You should still offer vegetables at meals (after all, exposing children repeatedly to veggies is half of the battle), but you can rest and relax knowing that your child is getting a source of good nutrition from fruit. The best part of adding fruit to the menu may be that you skip the urge to push your child to eat veggies or bargain with your child by enticing him with dessert.

Lastly, fruit offers important nutrients that many children are missing out on, such as potassium and fiber. In general, American kids are lacking fiber and potassium food sources from their daily dietary intake, so offering a source of these nutrients as much as possible helps them get closer to their nutritional needs.

How to Add Fruit to Your Meals

Adding a fruit option to your meals is a super simple tweak to the eating routine that can have a big payoff to your child’s health and even perhaps the happiness factor at your meal table. Here are four fun ways to serve fruit with your meals:

  • Peel it. Peel the skin off of oranges and clementines and cut the rinds off melons. Segment the citrus fruit or chunk the melons.
  • Skewer it. Take those chunks of melon, fresh strawberries and other fruit and place them on a skewer. Kids love the presentation of fruit kabobs.
  • Smoothie pops. Throw some frozen fruit, milk and yogurt into a blender as if you were making a smoothie. Pour the smoothie mixture into popsicle molds and freeze. Serve with dinner, as a snack, or as a dessert.
  • Make a salad. Fruit that's gone past its best-by date can still be chopped up (make sure to remove any soft spots) and turned into a big salad. It can be an all-fruit salad, or fruit added to a green salad.

A Word from Verywell

What if someone in your family just doesn't care for fruit?

It's true: there are some people who say they don't like fruit. But fruit comes in so many varieties and flavors that even die-hard fruit foes should be able to find something they will eat.

If you don't like super-sweet fruits like ripe mangoes, try tart fruits like grapefruits. If you don't care for the mushy texture of a banana, consider the crispness of an apple. And if watermelon tastes like sugar water to you, mix up an assortment of ripe berries instead.

After all this experimentation, if you still don't like fruit, you'll just need to go back to eating your vegetables.

Source:

Richards JE et al. PS2-14: Why People Don’t Eat Fruit and Vegetables: Insight from Participants Who Enrolled in MENU. Clinical Medicine & Research. 2010 Mar; 8(1): 32.