Why is it always such a struggle to get our kids to do something as simple as eating the vegetables off their plates? As a mom, you want your kids to get a healthy head start in life, but kids are so averse to trying anything with nutritional value. So, in order to get them to actually eat the veggies, we have got to get creative. Try these tips for the picky eaters in your family:
†Mix It With Their Favorites
†Once a kid decides that they like a certain food, it often ends up being the only thing they will eat. In that case, it might be a good idea to incorporate vegetables in their favorite foods. Try putting broccoli in with the mac-and-cheese; spinach can be hidden inside some ravioli. If they love peanut butter, you can put it on celery (add some raisins as well). Eventually, they might connect the vegetables with the food that they love most.
†Start a Vegetable Garden With Them
†No matter where you live, whether it’s an apartment or house with a large backyard, you can find room to plant a small garden. If the kids feel involved in planting the vegetables, they may be more likely to eat them. They will feel accomplished, and the taste of success will be much sweeter than their hatred of veggies.
†Get Them Involved
†If your children feel involved in their meals, they might be more willing to devour the veggies on their plate. Take them to the market and ask them to choose which vegetables they want. The power of choice will be intoxicating; you can even get them to help you cook the food in order to feel more involved.
†Choose Interesting Looking Veggies
†Sometimes, the real reason a kid is against eating vegetables is because of the aversion to the green color. Try to seek out veggies that look different from what they usually eat and dislike. Yams are extremely healthy and can easily be a replacement on a dinner plate for potatoes (assuming you’re not adding marshmallows or brown sugar to them). Squashes come in many different shapes and colors, which could hold fascination for your kids. Diversity on the dinner plate will be your friend.
†Reward Your Children
†It could be a good idea to reinforce that vegetables are necessary to eat by rewarding the kids. If they eat all the veggies off their plate for a week, they could be rewarded with a trip to the zoo, park or movie theater. They will start to associate the things they love with vegetables.
If your kids don’t like vegetables, try experimenting with different dips. A majority of children particularly love hummus, salsa, guacamole and yogurt-based dressings (such as a light ranch dressing). You can even ask your kids to help you make these dips at home!
†If you can find a way to make your children see vegetables in a different light, then you can start them out on the right track. Healthy children become healthy adults, so it is important to ensure that they have the right attitude about food. Lead by example and they’ll be loving their veggies in no time.
Virginia Cunningham is a health writer for Northwest and mother of three in Southern California. Because all of her kids have different tastes, especially when it comes to eating their veggies, she is always coming up with creative ways to get them to eat what’s best for them!