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Are French Fries a Vegetable?

By Michelle May, M.D.

When my son Tyler was about two, we moved his high chair into the kitchen to “help” us make dinner. We gave him a bowl and romaine lettuce and asked him to tear it into bite-sized pieces. He began to bite off pieces of lettuce and spit them into the bowl!

Unfortuntately, fruit and vegetable consumption by most children is even lower than than that. Researchers at Ohio State University looked at data on 6500 children, ages 2-18, and found that they consume an average of 2 cups of fruits, vegetables, and juice. For many kids, this is well below the recommended 2 to 6.5 cups per day (depending on their total calorie intake).

It is not just that their intake is on the low side, but their selection is pretty limited too: french fries were the most common vegetable (about 25% of their vegetable intake) and 40% of their fruit was in the form of juice. I know some adults aren’t doing much better.

CIMG3226So what’s a family to do?

  • Offer a variety of fruits and veggies at meals and snacks
  • Involve the kids in shopping, selecting, and preparing fruits and vegetables (just be clear about your instructions like “bite-sized”)
  • Go for color to boost the nutrient content. Try our easy Grilled Vegetables (see Resources > I Am Hungry! Recipes)
  • Start a garden or shop at a farmers markets for fresh, local produce
  • Try grilling, roasting, stir-frying and other flavorful cooking methods. You may never want a cold, limp french fry again after tasting Roasted Roots!

Be patient; it can take up to ten exposures to a new food before kids (and some husbands) accept it. Be creative and your family will soon be enjoying more than just fries and juice!

Michelle May MD

P.S. Looking for more great recipes? Check out my 14 year-old daughter Elyse’s new cookbook, Veggie Teens: A Cookbook and Guide for Teenage Vegetarians.



About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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