Get Your Kids Hooked On Fruits & Veggies
Vegetables are a vital part of a healthy diet, and yet encouraging children to eat vegetables and fruits can sometimes be a challenge. It’s important to help your child enjoy them. Here are some ideas to get you started…
Taste matters. If you want your children to enjoy the greens and fruits, make sure to go for variety, taste and fun. Try using finely sliced broccoli on a pizza, offer yogurt-covered strawberries, make rainbow chip with beetroots, parsnips and celery root, create small vases of cut cucumber with the insides emptied out, and fill them with dry fruit or pomegranate seeds. Skewer cherry or grape tomatoes, mini pieces of romaine lettuce, and mini mozzarella balls for some great vegetable kababs. Slice a bit off the bottom and top of grape tomatoes and plant a steamed, salted cauliflower floret inside… This will probably appeal more to your child than large steamed pieces of vegetables. Disguise vegetables in foods you know your child likes to eat. For example, you could include pureed or grated vegetables in pasta sauce or soups or as toppings on pizza.
Offer vegetables as snacks. Vegetables make great snacks. If you stock up on vegetables for snacks and limit unhealthy snacks in your home, your children will be more likely to choose vegetables when they are hungry. Keep a container of chopped vegetables and cut fruits in the fridge.
Praise works. Children look for their parents’ approval so praise when your children try vegetables and fruits and they would be more likely to eat them again. Tell your child exactly what they did well – for example, “I love the way you tasted your spinach!” Keep in mind that your aim is to encourage your children to eat vegetables because they like them, not because they want praise and rewards from you.
Don’t offer treats as rewards. It’s not a good idea to say things like, “If you eat your broccoli, you can have some ice-cream later.” This can make your child focus more on the treat than the healthy foods. It makes them feel that eating the healthy food is a chore, which they have to get through because then they can have a treat. This routine can also encourage overeating.
Avoid punishemnts or threats. Punishing your child for not eating vegetables can associate vegetables with negativity. If your child refuses to eat, try not to make a big deal about it – just try again another time.
Keep trying. It’s normal for children to say they don’t like vegetables when they first taste them. Keep offering them at mealtimes. Also keep encouraging them to try and taste the vegetables. Your children will eventually change their minds about veggies. Remember that it’s not unusual for some children to try out a vegetable at least half a dozen times before they accept it and another half a dozen times before they decide that they like it.
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