One of the big fights that you will face as a parent is how exactly to make your kids eat vegetables. Vegetables are nutritious and necessary for a growing child, but they are also, unfortunately, not very tasty, especially to the palates of children. Although different methods will work for different children, there are a number of tips that you can keep in mind in order to make your kids eat vegetables.
Your Own Attitude
Your own attitude towards vegetables will affect your child’s attitude toward vegetables. For instance:
- If you make a big deal about vegetables and push your child to eat them, they are likely to be less inclined to even try.
- At the other end of the scale if you do not often prepare vegetables or if you don’t eat many of them yourself your child is also likely to have an adverse reaction to them.
Just include the vegetables on the plate with the other food and do not make a big deal out of them at all. They are, after all, just another item of food that your child must try to eat at the dinner table.
Set An Example
Your child will not eat vegetables if you do not eat them yourself. Setting an example is more than finishing all of the vegetables on your plate, however. It also involves instilling a sense of the importance of vegetables in your children. When you take them shopping, teach them to pick out the vegetables with the brightest colors and explain to them why each different vegetable is good for you (For example, it has vitamin C in it which is something that keeps you from getting certain sicknesses). This does not need to be done in a pushy way but rather in a way that creates an atmosphere of vegetable acceptance and importance in your home. Eating vegetables willingly will follow with time.
The way you present the food is extremely important. Children make judgments based on very superficial factors. If the presentation of the food is unattractive they will be less inclined to eat that food. This does not need to involve any complicated processes. It is no secret that parents already have a lot on their plate without having to spend long periods of time preparing food in the hope that their child may eat it more readily. Presentation could simply refer to using foods that are in line with your child’s favorite colors, or arranging the food in a fun or interesting way on their plate. Chopping vegetables up into more attractive dishes can also be helpful from this point of view.
Dipping Sauces And Cooking Sauces
A great way to make your kids eat vegetables is by including dipping sauces for them to dip the vegetables into. Vegetables that are particularly well suited for this are carrot and celery sticks, but just about any can be picked up with a fork and dipped into something else. Popular dipping sauces are:
- Onion dip
- Sour cream
In addition to dipping sauces you can use cooking sauces and soups in order to disguise the presence of vegetables in a larger dish. Stick to those sauces that you know your child will like, even if you are tired of them yourself, as this will increase the likelihood that they will finish the dish.
Put Veggies In Favorite Dishes
Adding vegetables to their favorite dishes can make your kids eat vegetables, sometimes without them even realizing it. An important thing to remember here is that you need to eat the same food that you are serving them. Some ideas here are:
- A slice of tomato and lettuce on their sandwiches
- Corn mixed with their mashed potatoes
- Carrots in their macaroni and cheese
Use your imagination. What you do depends largely on what dishes your children enjoy and on what vegetables you would like them to eat. Do not push them if they don’t like something, but rather try a different approach to getting them to eat the required daily quantity of vegetables and fruit.
One of the better ways to make your kids eat vegetables is by giving them a number of different options and including variety in the weekly schedule of vegetables. Of course if there is a vegetable that they actually like be sure to include it often. However they may get bored with that vegetable if it is served too often. In addition have a number of different vegetable options on the table during the meal so that your child will have the power to choose which vegetable he or she wants to eat that night. Familiarity breeds contempt and it doesn’t take much for a child to get bored with a vegetable that she had no interest in to begin with.
“Just One Bite”
It is very important that you get your child to try at least one bite of the food before he or she declares that they do not like it or do want it. As long as you can get one bite of food down their throats you are on your way to success. Tips to keep in mind here are:
- Don’t force them to eat more than one bite if they claim not to like it.
- After a while they will have their one bit without prompting and will start eating more than one bite, especially in cases where dessert is dependent on a clean plate.
Let Your Child Help Your Cook
This is not a method that will necessarily be successful in terms of making your kids eat vegetables, but it has other benefits such as teaching children how to cook and given them a sense of responsibility. However, for many children, vegetables are more interesting if they themselves ‘made’ them. In a way it gives your child ownership of the dish in question and significantly increases the chances that they will eat the veggies when it comes time to sit down at the table. Children like to taste test their own culinary skills and if you refer to the veggies as “John’s potatoes” or “Sarah’s carrots” they are also more likely to eat a significant amount of them.
Let Your Child Help You Shop
When you go shopping for vegetables, take your children with you and let them actively participate in the process. This could be beneficial because:
- Fresh produce tends to look far more attractive when laid out in huge quantities.
- In addition you can allow your children to become used to the smell of fresh fruit and vegetables in this way.
- Allowing your children to choose the vegetable that they will have for supper that very night and then letting them help you prepare it increases the chances significantly that your child will eat that vegetable.
The drawback here is that you will have to limit your shopping activities to times of the day when your child can come with.
Fresh vs. Canned Or Frozen
In some cases children may be more willing to eat raw vegetables than cooked vegetables and fresh vegetables than canned vegetables. They may like these more due to:
- The taste
- The texture
Most parents notice fairly early on that their child likes to eat raw carrots rather than cooked carrots. This is probably at least partially due to the fact that raw carrots taste sweeter. In addition prepackaged or frozen and canned foods tend to be a lot soggier and, before they are put into a meal, they look less appetizing than fresh produce. Although it is not always feasible to but fresh vegetables regularly, it is a good way to try to make your kids eat vegetables.
Make Your Kids Eat Vegetables: Fresh Veggies Before Dinner
Just before dinner is the best time to get your children to eat vegetables. They are, after all, at their hungriest just before a meal. What you should do is place a platter of vegetables and maybe some fruits on the table. Make the platter look as colorful and inviting as possible and cut the veggies up into smaller portions so that they are easy to pick up and eat. Place that on the table, and tell your kids supper will be ready shortly, but if they’re hungry they can begin with the appetizer. “Appetizer” is a grown up word and a grown up concept which may inspire interest in the veggies. Do not force them to eat the veggies at this point of the meal if they don’t want to.
This is a method that will depend largely on the personal preferences of your child. However, when you roast vegetables, especially if you add flavoring of some kind, they tend to develop a different flavor. Your child may like this flavor more than the usual way in which you prepare vegetables. It is worth a try, and you should try this method a few different times with a few different vegetables to see if the taste grows on your child or if they prefer one kind of vegetable to be roasted instead of another. This is one of the many ways of adding variety to the meal and is also an aspect of presentation as roasted vegetables can look more interesting as well.
Children’s taste buds seem naturally averse to eating vegetables. Even adults do not often enjoy the vegetables that they make themselves eat. This is because vegetables are bland and in some cases downright bitter. Adding spices to the vegetables dishes that you serve may inspire your children to eat them more readily. Useful spices to keep in mind here include:
- Chili pepper
Only add a little bit of spice and do not overdo it. Flavoring can be added in other ways by cooking the vegetables in soup or alongside the meat dish that will be served with the meal. Trial and error will be required to determine what it is your child actually likes.
Make Up Silly Names
With younger children it helps to give the vegetables silly names that appeal to your children and that make them laugh. This is a good way to make your kids eat vegetables because it adds an element of fun to the meal. They may still not finish all of the food on their plate, but they are more likely to try a bite or two if the food has been relabeled as something fun rather than as a vegetable, a word that carries negative connotations for children from an early age. If you can personalize the name in a way that is specific to some aspect of your child’s everyday life this will also be helpful in making them eat their veggies.
Bribing your child to eat their vegetables by using dessert as a bribe is not something that is suitable for all children. Basically, it is not healthy because it means that you may get to s stage where you are giving your child dessert every night. However, if you include healthy options on the dessert menu this should not be so bad. In any case bribery and corruption should always be the last resort when it comes to getting your child to eat vegetables. The method may also be better when used infrequently and in situations where your child is being particularly difficult about the whole vegetable question and appear sot need a temporary bout of additional incentive.
The exact method that you use to make your kids eat vegetables depends largely on the personality, interests, and likes of your child. Like with all learning experiences and teaching moments your child has to be taught in a way that is appropriate to them personally. It is essential that you tailor your methods carefully to suit each child in question.