7 dietitian-approved approaches to help your kids try veggies (and like them too!)
Meals shouldn't be battles, but for many parents getting children to eat their vegetables is anything but easy. Frustrated moms and dads have tried just about everything: bribing, begging, sneaking vegetables in other foods and many other creative efforts.
Children should eat anywhere from 1-3 cups of vegetables every day, depending on their age (see serving sizes by age). Get your kids excited about veggies with a few simple strategies.
1. Be consistent
Offer vegetables with every lunch and dinner. Include fruits and vegetables as snacks, as well. Vegetables can have a starring role in a meal or just be a supporting player as a side dish.
Keep the end-goal in mind: you want your child to have a healthy interest in a variety of foods and you want to enjoy meals together. Fighting about broccoli or forcing your child to eat one bite is not pleasant for anyone, nor is that one bite going to have much of a health benefit anyway.
2. Let kids participate in choosing veggies
Involving kids in meal-time decisions can help give them a sense of control. Meal plan, go shopping together and empower children to pick out new vegetables to try.
3. Serve vegetables kids like
Different kids like different vegetables. Some may prefer sweet veggies like carrots, corn or bell peppers. Others may lean toward the crunchy textures of salad, cucumbers or celery.
4. Make veggies fun
Dips and fun shapes are another great way to encourage your kids to try their vegetables. Offer a taste test with a variety of vegetables paired with different dips. Serve seasoned Greek yogurt, hummus or salad dressing to encourage your child to try new vegetables.
A creative presentation can also encourage kids to eat vegetables. Serve "ants on a log" (celery, peanut butter and raisins) or offer a fresh veggie tray with all of the colors of the rainbow - challenge your kids to help you think of a vegetable for each color. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes for cucumber or zucchini slices. Create food art by using vegetables to create different animals or nature shapes - an adorable olive and carrot penguin could nap under a broccoli tree.
5. Try kid-friendly veggie recipes
Encourage your kids to eat more vegetables with a few kid-approved recipes. It doesn't have to be a complicated meal or snack to get kids to try something healthy.
6. Inspire a healthy identiy
We all know children do hear everything we say. If your child frequently hears you refer to them as "picky" or often hears you say, "they never eat vegetables," they will associate that as part of their identity. Instead, brag on your child's healthy habits, let them hear you mention that they are an adventurous eater and loves to try new things. Thank your child for helping you plan the menu and think of new ideas for everyone to try. Once your children consider the suggestion of trying new foods, they will be more likely to act on them.
7. Be a veggie role model
One of the best ways to encourage children to eat vegetables is to model healthy eating habits.
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