From the time they were babies, you have been trying to teach your kids healthy eating habits. You know vegetables are an important source of vitamins & minerals. There’s just one problem. Your kid simply refuses to eat them.
It’s a battle every time, which sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. But don’t give up if your kids don’t instantly love the veggies you serve. Instead, try these 6 practical tips on how you can add more veggies to our kids’ plates.
Tips to get your kids to eat more vegetables
1) Everything starts in the mind.
Take them with you to the grocery or the farmer’s market. Let them touch the vegetables. Show them what you look for to know if the vegetables are fresh. Is it a firm carrot? Or a plump tomato with no bruises? Do the leaves stand out like these have just been cut from the plant? This will psyche them up that these good vegetables are in the best condition for them to eat.
2) Let them help you prepare the vegetables.
For older kids, this is a good way to introduce kitchen knife skills. For smaller kids, you can let them help with softer vegetables such as detaching the leaves from the stem using their fingers. Incidentally, this is great for their fine motor skills. If you need help with mashing, let them help too.
3) Show them you’re enjoying your vegetables.
Your kids are smart. They won’t eat anything that you don’t enjoy eating. They need to see that you’re eating your own vegetables too and that there isn’t much of a big deal about it.
4) Avoid reacting when they do eat their vegetables.
NO need to overpraise them. Eating vegetables is supposed to be the norm. Leave the praising to grandma or a relative who will envy you for having kids who know how to eat healthy.
5) Hide the vegetables.
I hate to say this but we need to trick them sometimes, at least in the beginning. Let your food processor work on pre-cooked beans, root crops, leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes or whatever you have on hand. Once pureed, you can add them to your pasta sauce, or use it to thicken your soup. This trains their tongue to become familiar with the texture of the vegetables without the initial rejection as soon as they see it. When they have gotten used to the consistency of the pureed vegetable, you can slowly ease up and serve a chunky sauce or soup. You can also liven up your cheese dip with some spinach. Blanch, mash, and increase the quantity as they get used to the small green specks in the dip.
6) Vegetables in desserts.
Yup, you read that right. Add some pureed pumpkin or sweet potato to your brownies. Craving for that dark, sticky, and fudgy brownie? Instead of adding more butter or more egg, replace each egg with ¼ cup of the pre-boiled, strained, and mashed sweet potato or pumpkin. This is a guaranteed success.
If everything else fails, don’t lose heart and just keep on trying. Sometimes, consistency and gentle persistence is the key.
I’d love to hear from you. What methods do you use to get your kids to eat more vegetables?