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WIC program encourages kids to grow vegetables

March 03, 1998|By SALLY CLOPPER and ARLEEN SHUSTER

WIC program encourages kids to grow vegetables

Eat more vegetables - this is a common message during March, National Nutrition Month, and for good reason. The benefits of a vegetable-rich diet are many. Vegetables add bright colors, interesting shapes and varied textures to our meals. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Many of them are critical for growth and development and are especially important for our children.

However, many children are not huge fans of vegetables. We, as parents or caretakers, often agonize over how to get children to eat more - if any - vegetables. Here are some suggestions that may help you to get your young ones to add veggies to their diet:

1. Offer small portions of vegetables. A large share may overwhelm your child.

2. Present choices, and let your child select which vegetable he/she wants.

3. Avoid overcooking the vegetables.

4. Do not force or bribe your child to eat any vegetables - simply continue to offer small amounts.

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5. Disguise the vegetables in other foods (e.g., shredded carrots in meat loaf, pureed carrots in spaghetti sauce or green peppers in an omelette or cream cheese).

6. Be a role model. Eat your vegetables.

7. Let your child select the vegetables at the grocery store or farmer's market.

8. Help your child grow his/her own vegetables.

During National Nutrition Month, the Women, Infants and Children Program is teaching parents and children how to grow their own vegetables. The program will provide participants with starting soil, vegetable seeds and information on how to start container gardens. Participants need to supply a container.

A container or portable garden is anything that will hold dirt and has adequate water drainage. Some vegetables grow very well in container gardens, such as tomatoes, carrots, spinach, beans and leaf lettuce, but most any vegetable will work. WIC is growing tomatoes in a half gallon milk container, a yogurt cup and an old boot.

The benefits of growing your own vegetables are many. The taste of a homegrown vegetable is superior; you will lower your food bill; and you always will have a healthy meal on hand.

Best of all, your child is more likely to taste and eat the vegetables he/she helped grow.

The WIC Program hopes this experience will give youngsters an early start on developing a healthy lifelong habit.

For information on the WIC Program, call 301-791-3310 Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sally Clopper is a registered nurse and Arleen Shuster is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist for the Women, Infant and Children program offered through Washington County Health Department.

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