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Pediatrician: include fruits and veggies at every meal

The US Food and Drug administration suggests five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables every day. (File)

July is Fresh Produce Month - and the US Food and Drug Administration recommends five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health Pediatrician Dr. Mary Deeken about the importance of eating the daily suggested amount of fresh produce.

"Kids that tend to eat lots of fruits and vegetables tend to be healthier, tend to be better proportioned as far as height and weight, and they tend to get more exercise," Dr. Deeken said.

If you struggle to fit five to eight fruits or vegetables into your family's diet every day, Dr. Deeken suggested starting by focusing on one meal at a time.

"I recommend at least one or two vegetables per meal, with perhaps some fruit as part of a dessert setting," she said.

Dr. Deeken also said choosing to eat fresh produce can be easier when ice cream, chips or candy aren't an alternative option. "I tell parents to try not to have the junk food in the house," she said. "That's because if it's in the house, everyone will want it, everyone will eat it despite their best intentions."

According to Dr. Deeken, the more you make a point to choose fruits and veggies, the faster eating the daily recommended amount will become a habit. It's a habit she said will pay off both now and down the road for your family.

"Make it a part of your lifestyle," she said. "If you do that, instead of making it something special that you only do once in a while, the kids will grow, they'll be healthy, and they'll pass it on to their kids."

Watch KRCG 13 at 5 p.m. next Friday for our next Family First segment - we'll talk with a dietitian about her tips for washing, chopping, and storing fresh produce.

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