When picky eaters refuse to get their vitamins through fruits and vegetables, parents need to learn how to overcome this dilemma – force the children to give a healthy diet a try or give them the freedom of choice? Both situations may be tricky, and as some would say, unethical, but there are ways to encourage your children to eat more vegetables without causing emotional distress or major health issues.
All children should eat at least one cup of vegetables a day, and here’s what you can do to help your kids develop a healthy relationship with food. Although you may have to be patient and understanding, these methods will help you in the long run.
Offering your children steamed broccoli for dinner once a week will not inspire them to finish what’s on their plate. However, modelling behaviour for children has a long-lasting effect, and if you want them to eat more vegetables, be sure you add a large portion of veggies to your plate. In addition, there are many exciting ways to eat vegetables with every meal, so if you offer a variety of foods to your children, they will change their eating habits.
Let the children participate in choosing vegetables
Deciding what to eat for dinner is often a daunting task, especially if your child is a picky eater. Allowing them to choose which veggies they want to see on their plate can be very productive because it gives them a sense of control. Ask your children whether they want to eat raw, cooked or grilled vegetables, and be sure to add seasoning to enhance the taste of your food.
Serve the vegetables your children like
When forcing your children to eat vegetables they don’t like, your intentions can become counterproductive. For example, some vegetables taste better than others. If your children dislike the sweet flavour of carrots or the texture of eggplants or broccoli, it would be best to introduce them to these vegetables when they’re older. Therefore, be sure to serve vegetables your children like, and you won’t have to deal with child tantrums and meltdowns.
Grow vegetables in your garden
Most children are interested in gardening because it gives them a chance to play with dirt, dig holes, plant seeds or play with the garden hose. You can grow fun plants such as striped beets, and ask your children about the vegetables they would like to grow in their garden. By allowing children to help you in the garden, you will inspire them to taste a variety of vegetables.
Sneak vegetables into your diet
If your child doesn’t like vegetables, they will most certainly refuse to eat them, especially if they can recognise peppers, carrots, onions, and other vegetables on their plate. But, if you make a delicious pasta sauce with these veggies, your child won’t be able to determine what the main ingredients are in your recipe. Add spinach to smoothies, introduce them to hummus, and more importantly, make incredible sauces, and your children will never complain about eating boring food at home.
Children don’t understand the importance of a healthy diet. By spreading awareness and educating them, you can encourage them to give in and eat vegetables daily. Even better, invest in a few picture books that emphasise the fun in vegetables and heap rewards on your kid each time they finish their meal. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that yelling won’t get you anywhere and that good communication is essential when trying to encourage children to eat more vegetables.
Talking to your children about certain foods, growing vegetables in your garden, and sneaking vegetables into your diet are some of the most effective ways to keep your child healthy. Once they become more interested in vegetables, be sure to serve them the way they like.
Even some adults don’t fancy certain foods and vegetables, and that is mostly because their parents never encouraged them to build a healthy relationship with food when they were younger. Give these methods a try, and be patient with your children if you want to make progress and help them overcome picky eating.
Alison Pearson is an interior design student. She is a writer and designer, and her ultimate passion is home and gardening. She is also loves to write about hydroponic farming based on her activities in this field.