We all benefit from adding more veggies to our diet, but growing children particularly need the vitamins and nutrients that produce provides. The problem, of course, is that many of them would rather go to bed hungry than eat all of the broccoli on their plate.
You’ve probably already tried sneaky methods of getting your kids to eat their veggies, but this actually isn’t the best approach. According to The Atlantic, hiding vegetables doesn’t make your kids healthier in the long run, because you’re not teaching them to enjoy vegetables, making kids less likely to eat them as adults. Your goal is to get your kids to genuinely want to eat them. If that sounds impossible, give some of these tried-and-true tricks a go.
Set a Good Example
Your own eating habits are an important influence on those of your children. Trying to get your little one to eat a helping of asparagus is much harder when your own plate is empty of greens. Children tend to mimic their parents’ attitudes toward food, meaning if they don’t see you enjoying healthy foods, they aren’t likely to, either. Be sure to include a serving of vegetables with each of your meals, and show your kids how much you’re enjoying them so they grow up seeing them as a normal (and delicious) part of their plate.
Try Tastier Recipes
If your kids reject plain veggies, experiment with recipes that make them more exciting, even if they’re not as health-focused as you’re ultimately aiming for. We often rely on boiling and steaming vegetables with no cooking fats to keep them as nutritious as possible, but these techniques tend to result in bland fare that doesn’t get kids excited to try new options. To switch things up, try roasting, stir-frying, broiling, or grilling your veggies with hearty seasonings or even additions like bacon or nuts. As long as you keep portions moderate and use healthy fats in your prep, you won’t make huge health sacrifices.
Variety Is Important
It’s not all about bold picks like peas, carrots, and broccoli. There are plenty of vegetables with milder tastes that are more likely to appeal to picky eaters, like bell peppers, eggplants, corn, avocados, and sweet potatoes. Including a variety of vegetables in your family’s diet also ensures that you are getting the full range of nutrients our bodies require, and it teaches your children to try new foods. In fact, according to The Guardian, babies who are fed a variety of vegetables when being weaned are more likely to enjoy a range of healthy foods when they are older.
Take Them Shopping
A great way to get children excited about anything is to involve them in the experience as much as possible, so letting your kids pick out their own fresh veggies is a great way to get them on board with healthier eating. Farmers markets can be particularly exciting for children, especially if they have only ever been grocery shopping in supermarkets. Head to your local produce stand, and encourage your children to pick out interesting and unusual veggies. When you get home, look up recipes to use them in together, and find ways to let them help you with the cooking. Kids who were involved every step of the way are more likely to want to taste the fruits of their labor.
Getting your kids to enjoy eating healthy foods, including vegetables, doesn’t have to be a struggle. The key is to normalize a healthy diet as part of your normal routine, try a variety of enticing recipes, and get your kids involved in the planning and preparation. It may take some trial and error, but putting in this effort when they’re young helps ensure that they grow up to be healthy adults who make good food choices.