For many parents, getting their kid’s to eat their vegetables is one of the biggest meal time battles. While getting them to eat it is one thing, having them actually enjoy eating them is another issue. Here are a few pointers to turn your reluctant veggie-vores into veggie-lovers!
1. Don’t let kids think any vegetables, and especially the green ones, are bad. When parents make a big deal out of eating something children pick up on it. If you have an aversion to a specific vegetable try hard not to pass it onto your child. Maybe it’s a good time to rethink your feelings on it! Kids notice everything- so if they see you’re not touching the broccoli or dad is avoiding the carrots, they’ll want to know why.
2. Have a “Try It” rule. Many times children will declare they don’t like something before they’ve tried it. Instead make it a habit that all foods must be tried at least once or twice whenever they are served. The standard refrain of “I tried it last time and didn’t like it” will not work. Studies show that repeat exposure to new tastes and flavors is often necessary before kids will like a new food item. So, the more often they try it, the greater the likelihood that they will like it – one day.
3. Have a grocery store or farmer’s market adventure. Each person gets to choose a new vegetable to try. By making it a game children will be more involved and more likely to want to taste their selection. For older children help them research the vegetable online and discover the ways the vegetable can be prepared. Jicama is a great veggie to test – it’s unattractive and looks like a potato. But you really peel it, slice it and can dip it in dressing for a crunchy surprise. What a fun discovery!
4. Think of new ways to cook each veggie. If you have only ever served zucchini raw, try it grilled or make it into bread. Cauliflower is good steamed and sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese and Italian breadcrumbs. It can also be made into cauliflower rice or pizza crust. You’ll find dozens of ways to prepare every vegetable just with a little searching online.
5. Host a family “color” night. Plan ahead of time and serve only foods in the specified color for the evening. Purple potatoes or yellow squash might slide right by when kids are having fun.
6. Brave a messy kitchen and prolonged cooking time and let your kids in the kitchen to cook with you. Most children learn by doing and this is no exception. They are much more likely to want to taste things if they’ve helped in the preparation.
This might not solve all of your vegetable eating problems, but by proactively offering children options and experiences they will likely be more interested in tasting and eating new things.
What are some of your favorite ways to get kids to eat vegetables?