If getting your children to eat healthily is a battle, then you come with me as I unravel the six ways to get children to eat vegetables. Your children will both love these tips you will have the satisfaction that you are feeding them foods that are good for their health and development.
Firstly, I need to let you know that you are not alone in this situation whereby children refuse to eat vegetables. It is very common; children generally don’t like vegetables. There are several reasons for this. The foods that babies are fed with could be one reason. Many babies are fed with formula milk. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend that infants be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months and thereafter complementary foods in addition to breastfeeding for two years and beyond. Despite this recommendation and promotion, not up to half of the world infants are exclusively breastfed. For the babies that are appropriately breastfed, the diet of the moms reflects in the breast milk. As a result, the baby easily identifies with the foods commonly eaten by the mom. Therefore, it follows that if the mom habitually eats vegetables, the baby will eat the vegetables when they are introduced to him/her at the right time. Unfortunately, many moms are guilty of healthy eating, they seldom eat enough vegetables.
Also, I would like to you know that it takes some extra work to get through this; i.e. getting vegetables attractive to the children and making the food acceptable to them all the time. However, it is worth all the effort considering the health benefit the children stand to gain both in the present and the future.
I have had to share these six ways to get children to eat vegetables several times with groups, families, and mommies and there has been a good report afterwards. I have also practised them and realized fantastic results.
1. Eating vegetables as a mom is one of the ways to get children to eat vegetables
Get it right from the onset, make sure that you eat vegetables and let them be a part of the family meals often. As previously discussed, your child will get accustomed to eating vegetables when you invariably introduce vegetables to him/her if vegetables form part of your meal during conception and breastfeeding. The right time to introduce vegetables to your baby is after six months. Start by giving your baby pureed vegetables with no added sugars. Vegetables such as butternut, carrot, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, and beetroot make a delicious and colourful puree that your baby will enjoy. Your child will get used to the natural and delicious taste and grow with it. Afterwards, he/she will readily accept the eating of vegetables in meals. I have seen this happen so many times.
2. Avoid storing unhealthy foods
As much as possible avoid stocking your pantry and fridge with unhealthy stuff such as biscuits, candies, cookies, and other confectioneries. Storing these foods at home sends the wrong messages to your children. 1. Your children see them as the best things to eat and as a matter of fact, they prefer to eat the confectioneries. 2. As long as they have those things around and can always have them whenever they want, they have a good reason not to eat real food including vegetables. Of course, when the stomach is filled with unhealthy stuff, there is no room for healthy ones. This does not mean your children cannot have confectioneries at all; you can give them as occasional treats.
3. Incorporate vegetables into favourite foods
There are foods children always love to eat. Identify such foods that your children like to eat. I know most children like to eat sweet things like sweet pastry, savoury pies, sweet dessert, and sweet pudding. Replace the sugar in the preparation of such foods with vegetables that are naturally sweet such as carrot, beetroot, and butternut. For those vegetables that are not naturally sweet, prepare them into savoury style. For example, if your children like meat pie, chicken pie, or meatballs, add a good amount of vegetables into the mix. Also, you may grind blanched vegetables into a paste using a food processor and add into your child’s favourite foods.
You may sometime add a little sugar to improve the taste. Improving the taste and acceptability of some vegetables by adding a small amount of sugar in their preparation is surely better than their outright rejection. Aside from improving the taste, the attractive colours of vegetables add to their acceptability.
4. Give fresh vegetables as snacks
Giving fresh vegetables as snacks is one of the ways to get children to eat vegetables. Children love eating lots of snacks between meals. Cultivate the habit of giving vegetables as part of the snacks. Cut two or three different vegetables into pieces and give as a snack for school or to be eaten at home. Example, cherry tomatoes, cut carrots and cucumber make a delicious and colourful snack that children would like to eat.
5. Educate your children on the benefits of eating vegetables
Vegetables provide lots of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for health and the maintenance of body systems. Some of the nutrients vegetables provide are potassium, fibre, folic acid and vitamins A, E and C. Notable is vitamin A that helps children to grow well, helps with good eyesight and skin health, protects against infection, aids in wound healing.
Also, it helps to link the eating of healthy foods including vegetables with the dream that your children would like to become. It is unfortunate how successful sportsmen and women/celebrities are for example linked with unhealthy choices of foods through advertisement in the media. These can be misleading for children. However, the education that your children get from you helps them to be better informed.
6. Involve your children in preparing vegetable meals
Children readily accept what they participate in doing. The same goes with involving them in preparing vegetable meals or dishes or snacks. At the appropriate age, begin to engage your child in the preparation of vegetables. If you have a home garden, let them be involved in harvesting. You will see the sparks in their eyes as they enjoy the activities. In the process discuss the benefits that are derived from eating vegetables. Your child will appreciate the efforts and will more likely desire to eat them.
Remember, that you as a parent you need to set the example. Children learn by what they see than what they are told to do. Help your child to get familiar with these vegetables right from conception and breastfeeding. If you practise the ways to get children to eat vegetables discussed, your children will grow up eating vegetables and enjoying them. Their health will be better for it in the now and the future. I would like to have your contribution to this discussion in the comment section.