Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet may seem like an insurmountable challenge. While the health benefits are obvious to you, it’s not easy convincing your children that their diet must contain hearty helpings of broccoli, spinach, carrots, apples, oranges, and other natural, non-processed foods. How can you get your family on board with eating more fruits and vegetables than they’re used to? With a monthly resolution, of course!

In December, I’m challenging you to pick one day of the week and make it your family’s “Vegetarian Day,” preparing only fruits and vegetables for that day. During the holidays, we all tend to eat too much so this once-a-week vegetarian day will come in handy for every member of the family.

5 benefits your family will experience by going “green” for one day a week:

  1. Weight management – How many fruits and vegetables does your child actually consume on a daily basis? Not as many as you’d like? In order to help your child maintain a healthy weight, a Vegetarian Day will help you substitute over-processed and sugary foods with healthier, natural foods that are low in calories, yet satisfying.
  2. Higher energy levels – If you want to help your child gain higher energy levels, a Vegetarian Day will give your child an all-natural boost. Unlike caffienated, sugary beverages that will give your child a temporary energy burst, fruits and vegetables contain vitamins that your child needs to maintain his/her energy levels throughout the day. “Vegetables are important part of healthy eating and provide a source of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A, E and C.” [3]
  3. Faster than fast-food – The easiest foods for your child to reach for are fruits and vegetables, so make Vegetarian Day convenient for your child by packing a snack-sized container of apple slices and peanut butter in a lunch bag instead of a sugary candy bar.
  4. Improved dental health – Did you know that vegetables like celery and carrots can help keep your child’s pearly whites free of excess plaque? These natural teeth cleaners also stimulate the gums, and can lead to better dental health over time.
  5. Disease reduction – Eating a healthy diet comprised of fruits and vegetables will boost your overall health and wellness. According to the CDC, “Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.” [1] It’s also been reported that “dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.” [2]

Vegetarian Day doesn’t have to be a chore for you or your family. Make it fun by picking out the week day in which Vegetarian Day will be your priority, prepare meals with your children, and get excited about the health benefits associated with this exciting day of nutrition. For healthy eating meal suggestions, visit the CDC’s Healthy Weight page.

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About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.