Do your kids start wars with broccoli spears? You’re not alone. The proof is both anecdotal (what parent hasn’t struggled to get their child to eat more veggies?), and evident in the research. 93% of children are not eating enough vegetables!
If your child is a veggie hater, you might find yourself having to play a game of hide and seek come meal-time. Somewhere along the lines of spinach hidden in smoothies, zucchini blended into pasta sauce or carrot mixed in muffins! While this strategy can be helpful to ensure your child is getting the good stuff in, this won’t actually influence their food behaviours and can lead to more challenges as they get older.
In this article, we’re sharing some practical tips and recipe ideas that are guaranteed to entice kids to try new veggies!
1. Don’t treat veggies as the enemy
Comments like “you have to eat your brussel sprouts before you get any dessert” send a message to children that vegetables are something that are not to be enjoyed. Try to create positive mealtime environments and avoid any negative connotations around vegetables. This can have profound effects on their future eating habits as well as leaving you stressed and frustrated.
2. Get children involved
The more familiar children are with vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them. Take your kids grocery shopping and encourage them to choose a veggie or two to buy and try each week. Get them in the kitchen and involve them in age appropriate tasks such as washing vegetables or peeling and cutting using a child friendly knife.
3. Take advantage of snack times
Veggies aren’t only great for main meals, but also make versatile snack options. Mid-meal snacks are fantastic opportunities to bump up your little ones’ veggie intake and will show children different ways of enjoying them. Find inspiration from some of our favourite veggie-based snacks here:
4. Lead by example
If you don’t eat vegetables yourself, how can you expect your child to eat them? Children learn by example, so it is essential to start with yourself and pack in as many veggies as you can into your own daily diet. A handy rule of thumb is to aim to fill at least half of your plate with veggies at every meal.
5. Serve one new vegetable at a time, alongside familiar foods
Be careful not to bombard your child with too many new vegetables at once, as this method will mean they’re unlikely to try anything at all. Rather, offering one new vegetable at a time alongside a familiar food that you know they enjoy, will provide some comfort whilst encouraging them to taste something new.
- Check out our Kids Lunchbox eBook.
- Check out more of our kid-friendly recipes here.
- To learn more about kids nutrition, click here.