Most parents will confirm – getting kids to eat vegetables can be a nightmare! Hamburgers, pizza and hot dogs are so much tastier than broccoli and Brussels sprouts. However, the U.S. government’s nutrition recommendation says that basic healthy meals consist of half a plate of fruits and vegetables. It’s estimated that only 22% of kids ages 2 to 5 are eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. So how can you get your children to eat super healthy food they strongly dislike?
These tips and tricks might make your life a lot easier and your kids a lot stronger and healthier.
Getting kids to eat vegetables
Getting kids to eat vegetables is not an easy task, so arm yourself with patience and persistence – let the thought of your healthy child be your best motivation.
1. Presentation is everything. Play with food; use colorful vegetables and arrange them in funny shapes of flowers, animals, stars…Getting kids to eat vegetables may be easier if kids don’t see it as something they hate, but as something they love – their favorite toy or cartoon character. Search for creative ideas on how to arrange food for children and play with colorful dishes – plates, spoons and cups. Make veggie-eating time a fun time!
2. Invent funny names for vegetables. Studies show that inventing silly names for fruits and vegetables helps a lot in bypassing children’s resistance toward food they dislike. A child will more likely eat “teeny-tiny super-power drops” than much hated green beans.
3. Serve food when kids are hungry. Regular meals are important, but a child who is not hungry will hesitate to even eat food he likes. Getting kids to eat vegetables is easier if they’re hungry because hunger creates less resistance and less attitude.
4.The “one bite” rule. This rule works very well in getting kids to eat vegetables. Kids tend to resist food often because the way food looks or smells, or “just because” (not even knowing why). The trick is to keep them tasting it and with time they will get used to it. It’s important not to force the child to finish the plate; however, make sure there are always a few bites they have to eat before they leave the table. As a parent, respect this rule and if the child eats a few bites (as agreed) praise him.
5.Mission: undercover. Mask fruits and vegetables kids dislike into something they do like; i.e. juice the carrot and make cookies with it, or blend spinach and mix it into meat balls. Sometimes you can mask the broccoli smell with melted butter, garlic or some other dressing your child likes.
6.Let kids participate in shopping and preparing fruits and veggies. This is how you break aversion and resistance – by helping kids discover new things, colors, shapes and allowing them to simply have fun! Encourage them to choose what they’d like to shop for, to smell the fruit, clean the veggies and help you prepare them. Allowing them to participate in the process of food preparation and giving them a certain amount of control over what kind of fruit and vegetables they will eat, will help them feel less pressured into doing something they dislike.