Does your child eat enough veggies? We all know vegetables are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, but the sad fact is that most people do not eat enough. Establishing this habit early on is our best bet as parents, and it’s never too late to start! The photos below show examples of what one day’s worth of vegetables looks like for different ages. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t actually consume the daily recommendation yet. The key is to make a variety of vegetables available in your home and to offer them on a daily basis, ideally more than once a day. There are many opportunities to work more veggies into the day—think breakfast scrambles and snacks as well as lunch and dinner. Homemade smoothies, muffins and bars are popular vehicles for veggies for both kids and adults.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here are the measures we’re working with: one cup, a half cup and a quarter cup. One cup of cooked or raw vegetables equals one cup of the recommendations with one exception—raw leafy greens. For lettuce, raw spinach, kale or other leafies, two cups is equivalent to one cup of the recommendations. These recommendations are from the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Just to be clear, the photos below show ONLY vegetable recommendations and are not meant to represent a day’s worth of food. Fruit, whole grains, protein and dairy are other important components of a balanced diet. Check out this MyPlate page for more info on the vegetable group. Here’s a look at what kids in different age groups need in one day.
12-23 months old: 3/4 cup
2-3 years old: 1 cup
4-8 years old: 1 1/2 cups
9-13 years old: 2-2 1/2 cups
14-18 years old (and adults!): 2 1/2-3 cups