If you deal with squirmy faces and disappointed looks every time you serve vegetables, you probably know this – teaching kids to eat vegetables is not an easy task. Helping kids love vegetables requires effort and a ton of patience. How do we help them appreciate the benefits of eating vegetables? Not every mealtime that involves fruits and veggies should end in crying fits and frustration. Here are 5 creative ways to make them enjoy their glow foods:
1. Eat the vegetables, parents!
Your actions speak louder than your words. Nothing convinces a child more that a food is good for them than seeing their folks actually eating – and enjoying! – it! Pause with the power struggle and start showing your child that you love vegetables. Be an example they can mirror. When they question the need for them to eat their greens, you can back it up with “See how mom and dad enjoyed their vegetables? You should try it, too!”
2. Be resourceful.
When it comes to food, kids are still all about the texture, colors, and flavors. There’s a reason why they’re all about fried chicken and chicken nuggets – they taste and look good. You can walk them through the benefits of eating carrots and broccoli but if they don’t find your veggie dishes attractive, there’s a chance they won’t be eating them.
The solution — be creative. Pinterest has really creative vegetable recipes that help make dishes look appetizing to kids. Some of these recipes also offer tips on how to sneak in some greens in your meals – kids won’t notice they’re already eating veggies! When the going gets tough, whip out some creative vegetable dishes.
3. Make healthy eating a family priority.
Consistency is key to success – even in encouraging kids to eat vegetables. Stick to the commitment as a family. Your efforts to teach kids to eat healthy food will all go down the sink if your family chooses to eat fast food three times a week. Give importance to eating healthy food and make it a family matter. This commitment will make it easier for you to teach kids the benefits of vegetables.
4. Let them join the food preparation.
Show kids what goes into the healthy meals by making them join food preparations. Let them see you cut the carrots, or you can even ask them to wash some of the veggies. Food preparations also offer teaching moments. While preparing, you can tell them “Oh, we’re adding squash to our food today! Why do we need squash? It gives us Vitamin A for good eyesight!” When the lessons don’t feel forced, your kids may actually remember it.
5. Instill a sense of accomplishment.
Yes, finally convincing your kids to eat their greens is an accomplishment. Help your kids remember the great feeling that comes from eating vegetables. Instead of giving them treats – which will totally bring you back to square one – compliment them in creative ways.
If your kid ate squash, you can tell them “Wow, John ate squash. That means he’ll have clearer eyesight! Great job!” Celebrating their commitment to eat vegetables will encourage them to love their healthy dishes in a way that’s not forced or feared.