"Eat your vegetables, Johnny. They're good for you."
"Just take a tiny bite, Mary. You might like it."
Did those mealtime nudges inspire you to eat more spinach when you were a kid? Did they turn you on to cantaloupe?
Very likely not. And those messages may be equally uninspiring to your children, but don't give up. Encouraging kids to eat their fruits and vegetables is important, says Melinda Johnson, a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and mother of two boys.
"Fruits and vegetables offer unique nutrition that no other foods offer," Johnson says. "Certain vitamins, like vitamins C and folate (a B vitamin) can be almost impossible to get if no fruits and vegetables are consumed."
Tips for parents
To help children develop a taste for produce, Johnson offers these tips.
Lead the way. Studies show that kids tend to eat the way their parents eat.
Start early. Children may develop a taste for stronger tasting vegetables such as squash if you feed it to them in mashed, easy-to-digest form when they are infants.
Be persistent. Serve a fruit and/or a veggie at each meal, and for at least one snack a day. Repeated exposure may make your child more likely to accept "challenging" foods.
These and other tips for healthy eating and weight control can be found on the King's Daughters' Health website. Other information can be discussed with a pediatrician or family physician during regular check-ups.