Boosting children’s nutrition during the holidays


Children Nutrition
The EAT Family Style team shares ideas to make healthy foods festive.

Boosting children’s nutrition during the holidays

18 Dec 2019    By Tiffany Lee | Research and Economic Development

‘Tis the season for cookies, candy and sweets–but it’s also possible for families to celebrate the holidays healthfully by incorporating fruits and vegetables.

“You can make healthy foods festive by getting creative with fruits and vegetables to make fun snacks that are bright and delightful,” said Carly Hillburn, a Nebraska dietetics intern and collaborator on the Ecological Approach to Family Style dining program.

Examples include making “Grinch Santas” by stacking green grapes, banana slices and strawberries, or placing sliced strawberries and bananas into a candy cane shape.

The EAT Family Style team also recommends:

  • Getting children involved at mealtimes to pique their interest in trying their creations: For example, toddlers can dump ingredients into bowls and stir; preschoolers can use cookie cutters and rinse produce; and elementary-aged children can crack eggs and use vegetable peelers.
  • Exploring healthy meals by engaging children’s senses and talking about nutritional benefits: Since children are curious about the world, ask them to explore their food using the five senses. You can ask specific questions about foods, such as “Did you hear the celery crunch when you took a bite?”or incorporate nutritional phrases into mealtimes, such as “Fruits will give my body energy.”

EAT Family Style is led by Dipti Dev, the Betti and Richard Robinson Associate Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies. Saima Hasnin, doctoral student in child, youth and family studies, and Rachel Maloy, an undergraduate in nutrition and dietetics, contributed to this article.


College of Education and Human Sciences