There are certain battles which you can guarantee every parent has fought. The do-your-homework confrontation, or the find-your-shoes struggle. But the age old fight must be the one we all face in the dinner table trenches – getting kids to eat vegetables.
Now, I will throw my hands up and admit that I know I’m lucky. I think my kids do quite well when it comes to food. They eat pretty much everything that Hubs and I would eat, and for the most part do it happily. And even though vegetables can still get a bad rap in our house, I can get my boys to eat them with most meals. So I thought I’d share my tips for getting kids to eat vegetables, based on what has helped us.
make veggies part of every meal
When dinner time becomes a battlefield it can seem easier to just cut your losses and avoid veg altogether. But even if you know they wont touch it, I think it’s important to still have vegetables on the plate. It may seem wasteful, but kids learn through routine and familiarity. My 15 year old eats more vegetables now he’s older. I think that only happened because they were available to him. His natural curiosity grew stronger than his childhood pickiness!
find a food they love…
…and then find a way to sneak veggies into it! Middle son is a soup fiend, and that’s probably the easiest food in the world to cram full of veg. Blend it smooth and they’ll never know that the tomato soup contains all sorts of other sneaky goodies. Dishes like bolognaise or chilli are also good to smuggle veggies in to. You can really finely chop them or even blend them and cook them right down. It makes me feel a bit smug when I watch my kids wolfing down food containing peppers and mushrooms. If only they knew!
find a vegetable they love…
…and serve it all. the. time. Maybe love is a strong word, but even the pickiest of eaters will have one or two veggies that they will actually eat. And most kids will happily eat the same foods over and over again – if you’re on to a winning thing don’t feel like you need to shake it up too much. I know with my kids that corn on the cob, onions, broccoli and salad all go down well. Making sure at least one of those is included in every meal is a sure fire way of getting kids to eat vegetables.
encourage them to try one bite
Sometimes kids just hate a vegetable on sight. They’ve never even tried it, but they hate it. In our house, we encourage the kids just to try one bite. Usually, they still decide they hate it (stubborn boys, never like to be proven wrong). But I like to cultivate an attitude of trying new tastes. Every now and then, something is just too yummy for them to resist.
make food fun
I try not to labour the point of how healthy and good for you vegetables are. What kid cares about that? Kids are about fun, and so tapping in to that with food can be a good way of getting kids to eat vegetables.
My boys love corn on the cob, but I think part of that is the cute little corn-shaped handles we use. I’ve also managed to get my kids to eat vegetables more easily if they’ve been involved in preparing them – shelling peas, peeling mushrooms, or even learning safe knife skills can all be fun ways to get them excited about food. And as I learned from our trip the pumpkin patch, a Pick Your Own farm (or even growing your own) can also spark a kid’s curiosity about veggies.
So, your kids wont eat a single vegetable and you’ve tried everything? Well, good for you for trying. As a parent, that’s all you can do. A lot of the time, the best thing for getting kids to eat vegetables is to wait for them to grow out of the picky stage. Until then, don’t stress it. Just make sure they take a good multivitamin and keep setting a good example by eating the veggies on your own plate.
I hope my tips help ease some of the dinner time stress that can come when it#s kids versus veggies. If you have a tip, I’d love to read it so drop me a comment below!
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