This is a daily struggle in my household. My kids love fruits but getting them to branch out and try different vegetables is hard and I know I’m not alone. In the past I have hidden vegetables in sauces and soups so I could ensure my kids had a more balanced meal, however, research shows that hiding veggies is not the best way to promote lifelong healthy eating. In order to do that, we have to build a child’s taste for veggies that will last them into adulthood, choosing healthy choices for life. I still hide them when I can just to get them into their bodies, but I also try and follow these tips to get my kids to eat their vegetables.
1. Stick an apron on them. Studies show that kids who are involved in meal preparation will try different foods and generally prefer fruits and vegetables and overall healthy food choices. Plus, measuring ingredients can help with math skills too! Get the kids in the kitchen to help out as much as possible, and choose age-appropriate tasks. Good tasks for little ones include tearing lettuce, mixing ingredients, and helping to set the table.
2. Take them grocery shopping. In the past, this is one I have tried to avoid at all costs. However, I now give them each a list and they help select and pick out produce. They think it’s fun and it allows them to see all the variety in the store. I also let them choose a favorite vegetable (or one they want to try) for dinner that night. It makes them more excited to eat something they chose.
3. Make it colorful. Research shows that kids are drawn to visually appealing foods, so choose a variety of colorful produce. Think orange carrots, purple beets, red tomatoes, green beans, yellow squash, blueberries, etc.
4. Be persistent. I think I have heard “I hate broccoli” a thousand times. But I continue to serve it again and again. Research shows that it can take anywhere from 10 to 15 times for a child to taste or develop a taste for a certain food, so have patience, and a lot of it.
5. Get a good multi vitamin/mineral. Although this tip won’t help your kids eat more veggies, it will help fill any gaps in a picky eater’s diet. Supplement with a high-quality children’s multivitamin like Pathway Kids Chewable Multi.
Photo from here, with thanks.