Myth 2: A child who skips veggies will miss key vitamins and minerals
Lots of kids shun vegetables and still do just fine. One reason may be that they have developed an affinity for sweet-tasting fruits, which can be a good nutritional substitute while kids slowly learn to appreciate (or at least tolerate) greens like broccoli and spinach. "Fruits are comparable in vitamin and fiber content," says Jo Ann Hattner, M.P.H., a registered dietitian and pediatric-nutrition specialist in Palo Alto, California. "Think in terms of five total servings a day, whether it's from fruit or veggies."
If your child won't touch carrots, for example, offer apricots and cantaloupe to make up for the vitamin A and carotenoids he'd miss. Strawberries or oranges can stand in for spinach to help meet folic acid needs. Bananas are a good alternative to potatoes as a source of potassium, and citrus fruits can substitute for broccoli to cover vitamin C requirements. "But even if your child doesn't routinely eat vegetables, it's important to continue to offer them," says Hattner. "Veggies are packed with not only important vitamins and minerals but also health-promoting phytochemicals. Eventually, he'll come to accept them."