Tips and Tricks that Will Get Your Kids to Love their Vegetables
If you are glamorizing a donut and are scoffing at the grilled asparagus in front of you, they take notice
A variety of vegetables provide a child with vitamins, minerals and fiber that can help support their growth, immune system, and their gut health (NCBI, 2019). Unfortunately, getting our kids to eat vegetables can be a major challenge, leaving parents feeling frustrated and helpless. So let’s leave the rewards, battles, and negotiations aside and try these four simple strategies that will have your little one asking for more broccoli at tomorrow night’s dinner table.
1. Assess your opinion. How do you feel about various foods? Children are like sponges absorbing everything a parent does and says. So if you are glamorizing a donut and are scoffing at the grilled asparagus in front of you, they take notice. Changing your attitude towards food is a wonderful way to model the behavior you would like to see in your children. So next time you have carrots as a side dish, make it exciting by channeling your inner actor and say something like “Wow, those carrots look amazing!”, and notice how your child is engaged and a little intrigued.
2. Engage your child. Take your child grocery shopping for produce or visit a local farmer’s market together and have them pick out different vegetables. Taking a child shopping for produce can create curiosity and make them more amenable to trying these foods. Be sure to encourage a new vegetable each week and keep the kids involved by engaging them in the cooking process as well. Have them help prep a snack plate with veggies and cheese or prepare the entire meal together. If your child is involved in the cooking process, chances are they will love it.
3. Be persistent. When trying a new vegetable, find a recipe that will entice them. If your child enjoys cheese, introduce zucchini with a recipe using cheese. If they don’t instantly fall in love don’t worry. Try again but with a new recipe. This time how about making noodles from zucchini and adding some pasta sauce? The key is to keep trying with a variety of different flavor profiles. Change the appearance, make it pretty, and watch it disappear. On average, aim to present the same vegetable 5-10 times. The effort you put into your little one now will reap a lifetime of benefits. So exposure, persistence and patience are key.
4. Pay attention to timing. The likelihood of your child eating their green beans when paired with pizza for lunch is pretty slim. But serving green beans on a platter with other vegetables right after a full day of preschool may be the answer. Think about starting all your meals with veggies as the first course. Take advantage of when they are the hungriest.
Getting our children to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits may require a little extra effort right now. Start slow without creating battles. Think about how you are modeling healthy eating and then assist your children to explore the beautiful variety of vegetables. Trust that the lessons we are teaching our children today will last into adulthood when it's time to make their own choices.
Bela Patel is a Doctor of Pharmacy, Holistic Health Coach and founder of WholisticPharmacist.com with more than 20 years of clinical pharmacy practice experience. She is passionate about educating children and adults on using food and healthy lifestyle choices as medicine, as well as nurturing healthy mindsets for disease prevention. Bela has been a speaker on several topics in health and wellness and has been a guest on several podcasts and featured in Rolling Stones Magazine. For more tips on healthy living and delicious recipes, follow her on Instagram @wholisticpharmacist or check out her website at wholisticpharmacist.com
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