Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

5-2-1-0: Raise healthy kids by the numbers

8/18/2022 by Tammy Schmit, R.N.


Making healthy food and activity choices allows children to grow, develop and maintain a healthy weight so they can play, learn and be their best. But with all the fad diets and media about what should and shouldn't be done when it comes to leading a healthy life, it can be overwhelming and confusing. 

With just four numbers to remember, the 5-2-1-0 program provides families with a simple guide and tips. 

Starting at the beginning, "5" stands for five serves of fruits and vegetables a day.

But how much is a serving?

For kids, the serving is the amount of fruit or vegetables that fits in the palm of their hand. 

For adults, typical fruit and vegetable servings are: 

  • A whole fruit the size of a tennis ball.
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fruits or veggies. 
  • 1 cup of raw, leafy greens. 
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit. 

Some fun ways to eat more fruits and vegetables as a family include:

  • Be colorful.
    Make rainbow out of your plate. Challenge each other to find as many different colors of fresh produce as you can. 
  • Get creative.
    Pinterest and other craft websites have fun ideas to encourage kids to try different types of fruits and vegetables that they otherwise would not normally try. 
  • Plant a garden.
    Use the fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables you grow to try new recipes. 
  • Stay local.
    Check out the local farmers market or roadside stand and pick a new fruit or vegetable each week that your family has never tried before. 
  • Plan ahead.
    Plan a week's worth of meals as a family on Sunday so you're less likely to eat fast food or go out to dinner. 
  • Set an example.
    Your kids are watching you, and they'll be more likely to adopt healthy habits if you lead by example. 
  • Juice it up.
    Make smoothies or juices that are packed full of fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, blend one pear, one banana, one cup of spinach, a couple drops of honey, and one cup of almond milk for a delicious green smoothie. Get in the pink by blending one cup of fresh or frozen strawberries, one cup of skim milk and one cup of ice. 
  • Come together.
    Eat your meals sitting down as a family, with the TV off and the cellphones tucked away. 

For more fun ways to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, explore these links:

Find out about Rule 2: Two hours of screen time in an upcoming article. 

Tammy Schmit, R.N., is the nurse manager in Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.