How to Get the Kids to Eat More VegetablesPosted by: Scott Ko
Vegetables are a crucial element for a healthy diet with essential elements and minerals contained within. Unfortunately, it’s one of those foods that you either love or hate. Children in particular, tend to hate them. A study published in 2005 suggested that a gene is responsible for children’s aversion to bitter flavours, but over time environmental influences may cause a decline in the aversion. If I think about my childhood, I absolutely hated vegetables, but now I can’t get enough of mushrooms and broccoli. So how do we get these little critters to eat more greens?
1.Go Stealth Mode: Many kids turn their nose up at any sight of green on their plate. Find recipes that blend or hide the vegetables from plain sight. Think chopped or blended vegetables in soups, savoury muffins, fritters, pizza toppings or meatballs. A particular favorite of mine is Chicken Broccoli Nuggets, What they can’t see, can’t hurt them right?
2. Make them Tasty: There is no wonder I hated veggies as a kid. Our family steamed them and it was soggy and bland. Consider serving raw or lightly steamed vegetables with tasty dips such as hummus or tzatziki. Think cheese, mild spices, tasty sauces to add flavour. Instead of potato chips or potato mash, try other veggie mashes such as cauliflower or sweet potato mash. You can practically make any vegetable into a chip, and boy they are tasty.
3. Make them Fun: Involve the children in cooking or growing vegetables. My nephew’s kindergarten has an organic veggie farm and the kids take turns in growing and looking after the Vegetables. If you involve your children in the cooking process, they will feel proud of what they have achieved and more likely to consume what they have made themselves.
4. Lead by Example: Role models can strongly influence the behavior of children. If you are sitting around eating junk food and carbs, its unlikely your children will better your habits. Lead by example by demonstrating your love of vegetables and healthy eating.
5. Consistency: Make vegetables a frequent occurrence on the menu. Once they realize they can’t escape vegetables, they will learn to accept them. Never reward a child for eating vegetables. “Studies suggest that when we are rewarded for eating something, then the reward becomes the treat and we will not see the food itself as enjoyable,” The vegetable is therefore seen as a punishment, rather than something to be enjoyed.