5 Tips to Help Your Child Enjoy Eating Vegetables
Most of us understand the importance of vegetables for growth and development but getting our kids to eat them is the real challenge. Whether it’s picking out pumpkin, or refusing to eat any at all, kids can be fussy eaters, especially when it comes to their veggies!
For healthy growth and development, children generally need 2-5 serves of veggies each day. While there are plenty of reasons kids might not want to eat their veggies, it is possible to help teach them to be comfortable with and even enjoy eating vegetables! So before reaching for those pre-packaged or takeaway foods, try our top 5 tips:
1. Set a good example
Children learn about food choices through exposure from their families. So before lecturing your children on why they should eat more veggies, look at what you eat. Research shows that eating as a family sets a positive example which can promote consumption of vegetables among children.
2. Continue to introduce and re-introduce
It’s normal for children to say they don’t like particular vegetables when they first try them, in fact some kids may try new foods many times before they accept it, and many more times before they decide they like it! Small amounts of new vegetables with foods your child enjoys can help shift the focus, and changing how you cook and present veggies can also increase their appeal, so don’t be afraid to try serving veggies in different ways to enhance their appeal.
3. Get your child involved
Getting kids involved in meal planning, shopping, and cooking family meals helps build their knowledge, curiosity, and familiarity with vegetables. Take the surprise out of ‘what’s for dinner’ and encourage kids to try new foods by getting kids involved with kitchen tasks to increase their willingness to try what they’ve helped prepare. Whether you’ve got a veggie patch or a few pots on the kitchen windowsill, it’s a great way for your child to learn about how food is grown, to pick their own veggies, and get excited about eating fresh produce.
4. Offer vegetables as snacks
Make healthy snacks the easy choice by stocking up on vegetable-based snacks for when your kids are hungry. Add in vegetables as part of every meal or snack by keeping containers of chopped vegetables in the fridge that can be easily served with dip, cheese, natural yoghurt, or crackers. Vegetable muffins can also make a great lunch box or after-school snack.
5. Variety, taste and fun
Encouraging familiarity with vegetables by exploring how they look, smell, feel and taste can be a great way to increase variety and make things more interesting. Food colour is a fun way to teach kids about the benefits of different coloured vegetables, such as ‘eat the rainbow’ charts, which can be a great way to track what kids are eating each week. Cutting vegetables into different shapes or encouraging your child to make a picture with their veggies, can also help to engage interest.
Why not try these simple and easy recipe ideas, packed full of delicious veggies!
Vegetables & dips (carrot, cucumber, capsicum, celery sticks) served with hummus
Veggie noodles instead of pasta - zucchini or carrot
Pizza with a cauliflower crust
Vegetable muffins (carrot, zucchini & capsicum)
Cauliflower fried rice
Veggie chips (carrot/sweet potato fries)
Strawberry or Chocolate shakes with cauliflower
Butternut squash mac n cheese
Meatballs with zucchini & spinach
Loaded vegetable marinara sauce
These simple strategies can provide positive ways to get more vegetables into your kid’s diet, helping you to avoid meal-time power struggles and establish good nutritional habits that will last a lifetime.