Okay, so we all know that eating vegetables is good for us, and that most of us should be consuming more of them. That is all fine and dandy until you are in charge of getting those vegetables onto the plates and into the mouths of children. As parents we want to do right by our kids, but that can be one heck of a fight. So what can we do?
Next time you are struggling with getting your kids to eat their veggies, try some of these tips!
A lot of tantrums stem from the power struggle between parent and child. Even the little ones like to exert their independence. So maybe they don’t like broccoli. That’s fine, don’t force them to eat it. Instead, give them options. A little plate of a variety of cut up veggies can help them feel like some of that power is back in their court. If you bring your kids with you to the grocery store or farmers market, let them pick out the veggies for even more of that balance.
Back to that broccoli. Just because they don’t like it today doesn’t mean that they won’t like it tomorrow. My toddler loves going through his phases where he demolishes one food for a week but then suddenly wants nothing to do with it. If he doesn’t like something, I don’t sweat it because his taste buds are still developing. Studies show that repeated exposure to a food can warm up those taste buds to start enjoying that flavor. If it doesn’t happen today, try it again.
Do you expect your kids to eat their veggies but find yourself digging in the candy jar or filling up on processed foods? Kids are incredibly good at emulating the habits we don’t want them to. Thankfully, they usually catch on to some of the good ones too. So if the whole family isn’t on board with the vegetables, you may need to start leading by example. The family that eats vegetables together…eats vegetables.
Or add more vegetables if your recipe already calls for some. Making a stir fry? Double up on the veggies. Making scrambled eggs? Sautee some veggies with them. Making a sauce to pour over pasta? Make veggie pasta by spiralizing your favorite vegetables and then puree some veggies to sneak into the sauce. You can make it your own little game to see how many ways you can add vegetables to your favorite dishes, even if you have to hide them.
This one can get a little messy, but it is so worth it. Find age-appropriate ways to have them pull up their sleeves and join in meal prep. Have them rinse off the vegetables, chop them up, toss them into the pan, or even just sit on the counter and hold them for you until you get to that part of the recipe. You might be surprised to find that your kids are more interested in eating a dinner they helped create, and you just might catch them snacking on the raw veggies in the process. Just last week I caught my toddler munching on the broccoli stalks and mushrooms waiting to be chopped up.
As a mother of a toddler, I know that parents are just living snack holders. For Real. If you are having a hard time getting the veggies in while there are other food options at meal time, offer exclusively vegetables the next time your kiddo asks you for a snack. Which will probably be in five minutes if you have a toddler. They might not be happy about it at first, but if they are hungry they will eventually pick what you offer. Just stick with it, and give them options.
Still fighting over snack time? Or dinner time for that matter? Make some dip to add some fun crunch and extra flavor to your veggies. I love using nut butter or avocado as a base for my dips to add in some healthy fats. Just be sure that you keep an eye on those little ones to watch that they are not just licking the dip off of the vegetables and essentially using them as a spoon to get eat the dip…ask me how I know this…
So there you have it. I hope these tips will be helpful in getting your little ones to eat their veggies and hopefully enjoy them too! And should that not happen today, don’t sweat it. We all have those days. As long as it isn’t habitual, it shouldn’t be a reason to stress out. Just make tomorrow a healthier day!