Research has suggested that dietary habits are established as early as infancy. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) even suggests that vegetables should be the main food group, followed by whole grains, protein, fruit and finally diary. But the question remains: how to get kids to eat vegetables? Read on if you need help in this particular area!
Dismissing the importance of eating vegetables would be detrimental to your child in the future. Healthy eating for kids should start now as a balanced diet including vegetables would help to protect children against diseases later in life.
Oftentimes, kids do not like the texture, colour, smell or the sometimes bitter taste of vegetables. And as challenging as it may sound, remember to keep offering vegetables at different meals and in different ways without pressuring them to taste or like it. Some children may need to be exposed to new foods 10 to 15 times before actually trying it. Healthy eating for kids is never easy but don’t give up!
Meanwhile, if you have a selective eater at home, you can count on the following tips to get your kid to eat vegetables.
How to get your kids to eat vegetables
1. “Hide” them
The number one trick up in every parent’s sleeve is this: hiding vegetables in soups, sauces, or simply by pureeing it. Even combining certain types of vegetables into a patty is a surefire way of getting the necessary nutrients in your child.
Another idea is to offer a homemade yogurt dip or salad dressing for them to coat or cover their vegetables with that will help to disguise the taste or texture of certain vegetables.
One more way is to slip vegetables into baked goods. For example, you can try substituting white-bean puree for some of the butter in a cookie recipe or adding shredded zucchini or carrots to sweet muffins and bread.
The options are endless as you think creatively on ways to get your kid to eat vegetables.
2. Vegetables first
According to this article, when children are ravenous and the only foods in front of them are a plate of vegetables, they will succumb to it.
So be sure to time your meals appropriately and serve vegetables before the main course. This means that all other types of (unhealthy) food should be out of sight and out of reach, especially during mealtimes.
Healthy eating for kids can also mean having healthy snacks such as carrot or celery sticks readily available around the house.
3. Involve them
Helping children understand the origins of vegetables may bring down their guards against brightly-coloured vegetables.
Visiting a vegetable farm or a farmers’ market will help children understand the concept of farm-to-table better. If they can pick and choose their own vegetable, that sense of empowerment would motivate them to eat more healthily.
The same is true if you allow children to be involved in the cooking process; they will be more likely to eat what they’ve helped to prepare. Better yet, if you have the space and patience, you can even grow your own vegetables in your own backyard!
Remember, healthy eating for kids can also begin at home.
4. Eat your own vegetables
Lastly, be a positive role model by eating healthy yourself. Again, children learn about food choices from parents. And the best way to getting kids to eat vegetables is to let them see you eating and enjoying them.
Read also: The Amazing Health Benefits of Manuka Honey
The above tips are a good start towards getting kids to eat more vegetables. Don’t despair when your children don’t share your love for vegetables, yet. Remember that some children need to be exposed to new foods 10 to 15 times before actually trying it. However, the more children see parents and people around them regularly eating vegetables, the more it becomes a norm, and the sooner they will come to enjoy eating vegetables!