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If you’re one of the lucky moms who has a child who loves his veggies, good for you—feel free to skip this article! But if you’re like most moms, you probably battle your kids to eat more vegetables. Even if your kids will eat some veggies, there’s usually room for improvement. Read on for some tactics and tips to get your child on board with vegetables!
Getting kids to eat more vegetables is a common topic at my mommy playgroups. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “my child won’t touch a vegetable” or “my child will only eat fruit and cheese.” Our play-date conversations usually revolve around sharing recipes and tricks that have worked to get our children to eat vegetables.
My son is one of those classic no-veggie kids—he initially refused all vegetables. It has taken a lot of hard work and creativity, but now he’ll eat some, and even enjoys many of the vegetables I serve at home. Here are tips that have worked for my little guy—I hope they work for your kids too!
- Serve a veggie and dip tray the hour before dinner—My son is always STARVING the hour before dinner. He is whiney, constantly banging at the pantry door and complaining that he just NEEDS food RIGHT NOW! You should see some of the mealtime tantrums in my house; it can be quite dramatic. I don’t like to give him too many snacks right before dinner because then he won’t eat come mealtime, but I discovered giving him a little veggie and dip plate while he waits for me to finish cooking is the perfect compromise. I feel it just extends his dinner a little bit and ensures he gets his veggie requirements in. And I certainly don’t mind if he fills up on veggies before dinner—they’re the first foods I hope he reaches for at mealtime anyway!
- Always serve two vegetables at each meal— Not only will this show your kids vegetables are an important staple in your family’s diet; it will also give an extra option, just in case they don’t like one of the vegetables. After switching to this veggie serving method, my son has drastically increased his veggie intake. When vegetables are half the items on the table your kids are more likely to eat more of these foods.
- Make eating vegetables fun! Be creative—make mashed potatoes, put broccoli on top of them and tell your child, “there are trees floating on the clouds.” Call carrots “bunny snacks” and both of you pretend you’re bunnies eating your carrots. Draw shapes and pictures out of your vegetables; create a veggie smiley face or flower—the possibilities are limitless!
- Let your children prepare one meal per week—Let your kids do the planning, take them shopping for the ingredients, create fun chef hats and aprons for them to wear and let them help cook and direct the meal. The only rule is there must be two vegetables included in the meal. Letting your child prepare one meal per week is fun, but also gives him more control over food choices.
- “Fun Food” treasure hunt— A friend gave me this tip and she swears by it! She creates a “fun food” treasure hunt every week where she hides food in baggies around her house. She writes clues on index cards, and in order for her kids to get a new clue, they must eat the food in the baggie. She adds a mix of fruit, vegetables and yummy snacks to the bags to mix it up. The last food is also always one of their favorites so they are eager to eat each food to get to their favorite food at the end. This fun game has opened up a gateway to eating quite a few more vegetables for her kids.
Remember to be patient with your kids when trying to get them to eat new foods. Try not to fight with them about food—get creative and find ways for your kids to eat veggies in a fun and pleasant manner. It will help them view healthy foods in a positive light, paving the way for healthy habits as adults. And who knows, they just might learn to enjoy their veggies!