If you are struggling with adding more vegetables onto your kid’s plate, you are not alone.
Many if not most children find veggies unappealing. In all fairness, they have good reasons. Unfortunately, they still need quite a lot of them in order to stay healthy. Besides, having your kids eat more veggies when they’re young helps make it a habit, which will continue to benefit them as an adult.
So how to include more non-potato vegetables into your kid’s diet? What can you do to make sure your kid get those much-needed vitamins, nutrients, and fiber?
Read on to find the highly effective tips to make veggies a joy and not a chore for your kids during meals.
Make it a rainbow
Nothing is more appealing to children than a dish full of different colors and textures.
According to a study by Cornell University, while the ideal number of colors on a plate for adults is only three, kids are more attracted to plates with more colors (seven). They also have more positive emotional reactions towards bright colors compared to dark and grayish ones. In addition, the study also found that children prefer plates with a wider range of different elements, and with figurative designs.
Thus, the next time you prepare a lunch box for your child, feel free to add a little of everything into it. Drop in some flower-shaped orange carrots, some spiralized cucumber, some green leaves, together with the brown meat or the yellow potato chips. That makes it much more desirable to the kid!
Alternate the veggies
Are you in the habit of buying some familiar kinds of vegetables in abundance at once?
I am too – it’s an awesome way to save time and money on groceries, especially when they’re in season. (Also, the veggies tend to taste much better too!)
The thing is, we have to learn how to freeze and use them over a long period of time. Because the best way to make your kid hate a veggie is to stuff their plate with it every day for a whole week.
Change the kind of veggies you feed your kids with as often as possible. Give them their favorite veggies every now and then, but don’t forget to let them try new ones. Sometimes, you can make the same dish with a different veggie, or sneak some into a recipe that originally doesn’t include it.
Offer them a wide range of veggie foods so they never feel like they’re having too much of one kind.
When it comes to foods, alternation is always key!
Did you know that some veggies that are not so easy to eat can become extremely tasty when juiced?
Think carrot, asparagus, or celery. In fact, you can make a healthy and delicious juice with most edible veggies.
If you feel that your kid is not eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, juicing can be your perfect solution. It helps remove the fiber in the produce, leaving you with a liquid abundant in enzymes and nutrients that are extremely easy to consume.
Invest some money on a decent juicer (they are very affordable these days!), and some time trying and adjusting the recipes so they work for your kid. Once they’ve fallen in love with fresh juices, your kid will not only get the vitamins and nutrients they need, but they will also find sugar dense shelf-stable juices and other unhealthy drinks a lot less appealing.
Apart from having your kid drink veggie juices, you can also sneak them into their foods. At least they will get familiar with the taste!
Make fruit/veggie cookies
Yes, we can make cookies out of fruits and vegetables. And they’re super tasty!
Cookies are not the only treats we can improve with veggies. You can make cakes, muffins, and a whole range of what are usually deemed as unhealthy foods into healthier ones with veggies.
While veggie cookies and cakes may still contain a lot of sugar (and thus should be consumed in moderation), your kids will still enjoy the benefits of the nutrients and fiber in it. In addition, the small amount makes it easier for them to accept the veggies, and it is a good way to get used to the taste.
Don’t worry if the veggies are not perfectly disguised in the cookies. Seriously, who rejects a sweet treat just because there are some vegetables in it? Most kids don’t, scientists said.
Explain why it’s important
Your kids need to understand why they should eat veggies. Once they’ve seen the point, they will likely add more veggies onto their plate by themselves, even when they don’t like the taste of them so much.
School-based nutrition education has proven to improve children’s attitude and preference towards eating vegetables. Parents’ daily reinforcement of the nutritional values of vegetables should have the same effect.
Talk to your kids about the benefits of having more greens on the plate. Try to focus more on the practical advantages and explain in simple words.
Getting them children’s books about nutrition is a good method too. My 7-year-old niece almost never touched any veggies other than cucumber until she read a book about how humans poop. She is now experimenting and studying the correlation between the amount and types of plants she eats and the shapes of her poop.
It’s not always interesting to listen to her discuss that during dinner, her parents say, but at least she’s eating a lot of veggies and even asking for more!
Anitya is a blogger from Luna Regina, a blog dedicated to balanced eating and healthy living. She believes health is the most precious thing someone can possess, and good health begins with a diet that is tailored to balance one’s needs and preferences.
Anitya is constantly trying to find that balance, and in her posts, she shares with you what she learns during the journey. You will also find how she is trying to improve her relationship with the kitchen by finding tools and methods to make odd, boring jobs become easier and more interesting.