Does variety in my child’s diet matter? Feed to Succeed Registered Dietitians answer why variety matters and their tips to increasing variety in the diet.
Supplements Do Not Replace What Can Come from Food:
Does variety in my child’s diet matter? “While it can be easy to only offer favorite or safe foods, variety increases the amount of nutrients a child receives as well as their overall eating experience. Giving a supplement to fill in the gaps doesn’t replace what can come from food. My top tip is to keep trying with food over and over again. Sometimes it can take dozens of tries before a food is accepted, but it is worth it in the end.” -Abby Olcott, MS, RD, LDN
Each Fruit and Vegetable Has A Unique Nutrient Profile:
“I highly encourage adolescent athletes to include a variety of foods into their day, and this is especially true for fruits and vegetables. Each fruit and vegetable has a unique nutrient profile, and by including a variety of options throughout the week you can help ensure appropriate intake of essential vitamins and minerals. If you or your child tend to struggle with increasing variety, then I suggest the three following tips:
- Select produce that is in season. Not only will it be ripe and generally taste better, but it also tends to be more affordable.
- Start small, and aim to add 1-2 new fruits or vegetables a week. This is a realistic goal and over time it can help develop a life-long love of being adventurous with foods.
- Re-introduce foods over time. Most of us won’t like every single new food that we try, but keep in mind that taste and food preferences develop over time – so even if we don’t like a specific food the first time around, it doesn’t mean we won’t like it later on.” -Bailey MS, RDN, LDN, CSSD
Variety Supports Optimal Health and Intake of a Wide Variety of Nutrients:
“Variety in any person’s daily intake helps people to get a wide variety of nutrients that are needed to support optimal health. It wouldn’t be possible for one person to get every healthy food into their body daily, in an amount that would promote good intake! With kids sometimes it’s hard. I know my own kids get into routines and food preferences – particularly at breakfast and lunch when they are making more independent food choices. In order to keep them eating a variety of healthy foods, I rotate the fruits and veggies we keep around according to seasonal availability. I also try to rotate variety of other healthy foods such as types of yogurt, sandwich fillings, breakfast cereal, and even snacks. At this time of year, we tend to get into the winter doldrums with the fruits. It’s currently citrus season. But we can only eat so many oranges, Clementines and grapefruits. So I try to keep bananas, apples and pears around in the winter because they are also easily available; and we also have frozen berries on hand to make smoothies, to get a little variety that way.” -Betsy Hjelmgren, MS, RDN, CSP, LDN