Do your kids turn their noses up at their vegetables? Are you always struggling to get them to eat their greens? If so, you’re not alone. Many children are reluctant to eat their veggies, but there are ways to get them on board. Keep reading for some tips on making vegetables more appealing to your kids.
Talk Less, Feed More.
Be a silent presence at the dinner table. Resist the temptation to ask your kids if they want more vegetables or tell them how wonderful they are. All of this will make your children feel like they are on stage and put them on the defensive.
Instead, serve vegetables at every meal. Serve a variety of vegetables at each meal, and make sure you have a serving yourself. If everyone is eating broccoli, for example, your children will feel like they are part of the “in” crowd if they do as well.
While you should encourage your children to eat their veggies as often as possible, you don’t want to spend every mealtime nagging them about what they are (and aren’t) putting on their plates. Be positive and praise your kids when you’re choosing healthy foods for them. And when kids see you and other family members happily eating vegetables, they’re more likely to follow suit.
Get creative with dips and dressings.
If your kids are hesitant to try new vegetables, offer them a dipping sauce or dressing to encourage them. Some of our favorites include hummus, tzatziki, and ranch dressing. You can also make your own healthy versions of favorite sauces like ketchup and BBQ sauce.
Don’t Use Rewards and Punishments.
Using rewards and punishments to get your kids to eat their veggies will only send the message that vegetables are bad. Don’t bribe your kids to eat their veggies or threaten to take dessert away if they don’t clean their plates.
Don’t expect your kids to eat every bite of their vegetables. Instead, give them a choice: “Would you like to eat some of this broccoli or wait until later to have some?” By giving them a choice, you’ll avoid making vegetables feel like punishment.
Kids will develop their own tastes as they grow. While you can help them like healthy foods by serving them other things your kids like to eat, you don’t want to force them to eat their veggies. Instead, keep offering vegetables so your children can learn to like them on their own terms.
Add a Veggie to Something They Already Enjoy.
Don’t stop at serving vegetables with dinner. Add veggies to your kids’ favorite foods.
Many kids like macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, or pizza. While it’s best to serve these foods infrequently, you can sneak some vegetables into them without your children knowing.
Add pureed vegetables to soups and stews, or stir veggies with mashed potatoes. Add a few teaspoons of pureed carrots to regular spaghetti sauce.
You can also add peas and carrots to macaroni and cheese or spinach to tomato sauce when you make pizza. You may also use vegetables as dips for things like pita bread triangles, chips, or crackers that your children enjoy.
Peel and chop vegetables into small, easy-to-eat pieces. Make it fun!
This way, your kids will be less likely to notice that they eat something healthy. Give these pieces to your kids when they’re hungry and want a snack – it will be easier for them to eat their veggies this way. You can give your kids these veggie snacks when they get home from school or in the late afternoon when their blood sugar levels start to drop.
To prevent loss of nutrients, cook vegetables lightly. Always try to steam or roast your vegetables – never boil them. Steaming and roasting will preserve more of their nutrients than boiling will. Work with your kids to make vegetables fun. You can create faces on the veggies with the foods kids enjoy most or serve juice in fun cups.
For example, to make broccoli smile, slice the florets into small sections and use red bell pepper strips for the eyes. Kids will be more likely to eat their veggies if they’re smiling.
Veggie Smiles Kids will find it fun and yummy!
Don’t Force It.
You don’t want your kids to eat their veggies under pressure because they will be more likely to pick them out or refuse to eat them. But don’t let your kids go hungry if they don’t clean their plates.
If your kids leave food on their plates, let them know that they can have it the next time you serve it. Eating vegetables should be fun and OK to do, not something your kids feel like they have to do.
And even though your kids may not eat their veggies initially, they will eventually come around if you keep serving them. Don’t be a short-order cook by making separate meals for your kids and yourself. Set an example by putting vegetables on your own plate, and everyone at the table will be more likely to follow.
You can make some simple changes to incorporate more vegetables into your family’s diet. If you have picky eaters, it may take some time to get them used to eating vegetables, but if you keep offering them, they’ll come around.
Give your children healthy choices.
If kids want to eat chocolate chip cookies for dinner, they should be allowed to occasionally. But the majority of their food should consist of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
The same applies to snacks. Some days, they should have fruit as a snack, but they can have chips on other days. Offering your kids healthy choices is one of the best ways to get them to eat their veggies.
If you tell your children that they must eat their vegetables, they are more likely to refuse to eat them. Offer your children healthy choices instead. You can tell them something like this: “Here are some choices for tonight’s dinner:
It will be easier to get your kids to eat their veggies if you let them choose what they want to eat.
Be a Good Role Model.
Kids learn by watching their parents and other family members, so be a good role model. If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, you need to eat more vegetables. Even if your children don’t want to eat their veggies, they will still see that you are eating them, and they will copy your behavior.
If you don’t want to eat a salad, then at least give it a try. You can also order a side salad as an appetizer when you go out for dinner or prepare a salad with your lunch. Your kids aren’t the only ones that need healthy choices. You should be eating more vegetables, too!
If your kids see you eating vegetables at every meal, they will be more likely to give them a try.
Don’t Make a Big Deal Out of It.
It’s not a good idea to make a big deal out of your child eating vegetables. This can turn into something fun for them if you do it correctly. Instead of applauding your kids for eating vegetables, tell them that’s what they are supposed to be doing. Don’t make a big deal out of it, or they will pay you to get what they want.
Doing this can backfire because children like to be rewarded for doing things. If you make a big deal out of your child eating veggies, they may stop. If you act like it’s no big deal that your child is eating vegetables, they’ll feel like it’s the norm, and they will continue to do it.
This is the best way to get your kids to eat their veggies. Don’t treat them like they are doing something special, because then they will only do it when you are watching. If you want your kids to eat their veggies, don’t treat it as if it’s something special. If they see that it’s normal for them to eat vegetables, chances are they will continue.
Get Kids Involved.
Having your child involved in making their food is a great way to get them to eat their veggies.
If you have a child involved in making what they eat, they are more likely to give it a try.
You can also involve them in the grocery shopping process. You can ask them if they want to pick out something for dinner, or you could even let them choose the vegetables that go into the dinner.
You can have fun with your kids at the grocery store or in your kitchen by getting them involved. Have your child pick out what kind of vegetables they want in their salad.
You can also let them help you make it or even wash the lettuce if they are old enough. If your children are involved in making what they eat, then they’ll be more likely to give it a try.
Getting your kids to eat more vegetables isn’t as hard as you may think. All you have to do is offer them healthy choices and let them know that this is what they are supposed to be doing.
You should also set a good example by eating more veggies yourself, and don’t treat your child’s choice to eat their veggies as something special. Taking these steps will make it much easier for your children to love eating vegetables.
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Marcella Raskin is the founder & editor-in-chief. She is a passionate and articulate writer who has dedicated her life to studying human potential. She has studied Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Life Purpose Coaching, Group Life Coaching. She loves helping women (and men) explore themselves through writing, which allows for an exploration into one’s thoughts on entrepreneurship or personal development topics such as mindset-shaping techniques that can positively shape someone’s perspectives about themselves when they don’t think it could ever happen! She practices sports and has studied Exercise Physiology. She is married and the mother of two girls.