Over and over, research confirms that vegetables are vital to our health and well being. Study after study has been shown that the higher your vegetable intake, the lower your risk for major health issues including heart disease and cancer.
Just telling our kids these facts certainly won’t convince them they need to eat more vegetables. In fact, I probably haven’t even convinced you, but it is vital to get your kids to eat their vegetables.
We all know it is important to have a well balanced diet; one low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables. That doesn’t make it any less difficult to create changes in our diet.
It often feels impossible to get kids to eat a healthy diet. The truth is, kids are easier to change than adults and it is no different with their diet. They have not yet had years and years of bad habits forming and can be adapted to a healthier lifestyle quite easily.
These 25 tips will have your children and your whole family eating more vegetables before you know it.
How to get your kids to eat their vegetables
Lead by example– Your kids literally watch everything you do. Even if they do not want to eat their own vegetables, they will notice that you eat them, so be a good example and they will eventually copy what you do.
Make the veggies stand out on the plate– Make the plate pretty, make a pattern of colors, put the veggies in the center of the plate, whatever you have to do to showcase them.
Give your children choice– Ask your children what they like. Give them a few choices to choose from before choosing what to have for dinner.
Offer veggies as snacks– Let’s face it, kids ask for snacks all day long. Spend a few minutes each weekend slicing up a few different veggies, like cucumber, carrots, and peppers. That way, when your kids ask for a snack you will have a healthy option ready. Make a healthy dip out of cottage cheese and a ranch seasoning packet and your kids will have a new, yummy snack!
Make more than one vegetable per meal– Vegetables can take up more than just a tiny portion of the meal. Think about having a salad and steamed vegetables, or lettuce and tomatoes on a sandwhich with a side of roasted veggies. Try adding a couple vegetables to each of your meals for a little while and watch how your kids start to try more and more.
Add butter– Adding a little melted butter on your steamed, sauted, or roasted veggies can add a yummy flavor that your kids will probably love. People often avoid butter, but if you use real butter and don’t add it to every single thing you eat, there is no problem. Your children need more fat in their diets than you do so you can leave your veggies butter free if you need less butter in your diet.
Let your child help you cook– The more involved your children are in the process of getting your meals ready, the more likely they are to eat what you cook. Show them the process and let them do a little tasting while you cook. Trust me, vegetables taste better before they hit the dinner table!
Take your child with you to the grocery store– Just like above, get your kids in on the action. Let them shop with you, help you choose the meals for the week, and help you buy them at the grocery store.
Make smoothies– Add a few healthy greens to a fruit smoothy and your kids won’t even know. Spinach, kale, carrots and pees make easy options. Don’t assume you need to add sugar. Just add a few sweet fruits and it will naturally sweeten the smoothy.
Don’t give up– It may take several different tastings before your child enjoys each vegetable, but just keep introducing it with your regular meals.
Add veggies inside every main dish– There are lots of different ways you can add vegetables to your regular meals. Throw in a few extra vegetables in your spaghetti sauce or scrambled eggs.
Plant a garden or visit one– When kids see where the food comes from
Cut back on other junk– If your kids are full from the other food, especially other, more appealing options, they will be less likely to eat the healthy items you serve. Let them get hungry in between meals so they have the desire to eat.
Make veggies the biggest part of your meal– Your biggest serving doesn’t have to be protein or carbs. Instead, serve vegetables as the main part of the meal. It is a subtle way of showing its importance to your kids.
Have fun– Sometimes it takes a little creativity to get your kids to eat something. Remember ants on a log? Browse through Pinterest for some fun ways to make your vegetables look fun! Make art! Do potato stamps or draw a picture of a favorite veggie. Anything you can do to make it a little more fun!
Don’t force your child to eat– Encourage your child to eat and give them lots of healthy options, but don’t force them to eat everything. Lead by example as you eat the food on your plate. They will notice.
Have a one bite rule– I never advice that you force your kids to eat everything on their plate (like I said above), but it is a good rule to have them try each thing on their plate. Kids tastes change so often throughout childhood and even they will be surprised with the new things they enjoy.
Make appetizer sampler trays with different veggie choices– For some reason, appetizers are often more appealing than the main course, so take advantage. put out a sampler tray while you cook so you can sneak in a few extra veggies. Before you know it, your kids will have a few new veggies they like.
Don’t offer seconds of any portion of the meal until your child has finished each item– We do not force our kids to finish everything on their plate, but we do have a rule about asking for seconds. When I serve their plate, I give them a small portion of each thing I have made. We expect them to at least try everything. There are always items they like more than others, but they have to have a clean plate before deciding they need seconds of something. This way, they do not fill up on one item and barely have anything else to eat.
Have tasting nights– Make it an event. Every once in awhile have a tasting night instead of a regular dinner. Prepare several small dishes that everyone gets to try. Similar to if you went to a restaurant and ordered several appetizers. Your kids will love trying new things and having a difference in routine. Prepare foods that have lots of new vegetables and encourage tasting.
Reward good eating– compliment your child when they try something new or finish their vegetables. Encouragement and praise can go a long way.
Offer diverse food– offer lots of different foods. This will help your children figure out what they like as well as encourage your child to try new foods.
Make your plate colorful– A more appealing looking plate will be more appealing to eat. Plus, the colors of vegetables are beautiful and often the more colorful the vegetable, the more nutritious, so add lots of colors to your plates.
Make it the norm– serve vegetables with every meal. If your child gets used to seeing them, they will know that healthy meals include vegetables and will be more likely to eat them on a regular basis. If vegetables are normal, there will be no reason for your child to refuse them.
Let your kids get hungry– If you allow your children to snack and graze all day, they will not choose to eat what you are serving at a regular meal. However, if your child is hungry at that meal they will eat.
The bottom line is, if you serve balanced meals, lead by example, and say very little, your kids will eat vegetables just like you do. Try the tips above and get your kids to eat their vegetables today!
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