An article by Kristin Louis
Vegetables can be intimidating for children. Whether it’s their strange shapes or bitter flavor, they can be difficult to get kids to eat. Here are some ways you can inspire your child to appreciate and enjoy veggies of all varieties.
Encourage Good Eating
Children may reject a new food simply because it is new and they aren’t familiar with it. By encouraging children to take at least one big bite of a food they are otherwise adamant that they will not eat, you may be able to help them get past their initial displeasure over time. They may have to try spinach 10 times before they are okay with eating a full serving, but you will hopefully get there eventually. However, try not to force them into eating things they don’t want to eat. You don’t want your child to have a negative association with this food, and forcing them to finish will undoubtedly leave a bad taste in their mouth, literally and figuratively. That’s why if after one or two big bites, they decide they don’t like it, don’t force them to keep eating. It will only make things more difficult later.
Make Them Yummy
We all know that vegetables can be bitter, especially some of the healthier options like leafy greens. Add something to these vegetables to bring out new flavors. A little brown sugar sprinkled onto carrots can bring out their natural sweetness. Butter may hide some of the bitterness in spinach and kale. Roasting vegetables is another good way to get rid of some of that bitterness, and make them even more delicious. Kids usually have sensitive palates, so keep trying until you find a combination that your little one can get behind. Give them healthy dips to try for raw vegetables that have been cut into sticks. Finger food is not only fun, but the dips can make a snack more exciting or enticing.
Grow Them Yourself
One way to get kids excited about healthy vegetables is to grow them yourselves in a front-yard garden. Often, kids love participating in familial activities. If you make it an activity and teach them about the various growing stages, you may inspire curiosity and a newfound love of vegetables. Allow them to help as much as possible with every stage of the planting process. Let them help you loosen the earth, plant the seeds, and help with watering and weeding weekly. By getting them involved in the production of these foods, they may be all the more excited to try the fruits of their hard-earned labor. If they grow them, take care of them, and then harvest the vegetables, you may be able to engender a new love in your little ones of not only eating vegetables, but also of knowing where their food comes from and eating responsibly. Root vegetables, like beets and carrots, as well as tomatoes are good starting points, as they are easy to grow and take care of.
Establish Good Habits Early
Often, what our children choose comes down to how hungry they are and what’s on hand that’s easy to grab. If you have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables ready to eat, as in washed and already cut into convenient pieces, your child is more likely to take something healthy. If they have to clean the vegetables or wait for them to be cleaned, they may go for something less nutritious, especially if you have less-healthy snacks on hand. Rather than make it easy for them to grab cookies or chips in the pantry, stock up on fresh vegetables and fruits and keep them within easy reach.
There are many excellent ways to inspire your children into loving vegetables. Grow them, give them choices, and make them delicious. It’s up to us to set a good precedent in our children for leading healthy lives, including eating well.
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