One of the biggest struggles for today’s parents is getting your kids to eat vegetables, or really anything healthy. Not all kids are fussy eaters but let’s be honest, most are. So how to get your kids to eat more veggies?
As a parent, you want the absolute best for your children, especially when it comes to their health. With so much junk food and sweets available these days, you have to go the extra mile to ensure your kid is also eating healthy stuff.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one should consume one to three cups of vegetables in a day and two cups of fruits. For infants, it’s at least one cup, and for children above three years, at least two cups. Keep these numbers in mind as you read the tips and tricks I recommend.
Why are Veggies Important for Kids?
Kids, much like adults, should eat a variety of foods to get their nutrition. For kids, eating right is necessary for their growth. The better they eat, the more they grow and are less likely to have health issues as an adult.
Not just vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains are also important for growing children. Obviously, it’s up to parents to ensure that the child is eating right, but sometimes that can be difficult.
However, the immense benefits of veggies will convince you to try even harder and ensure that your child eats their greens:
Veggies Have Lots of Fiber
Vegetables are naturally rich in fiber, which would help keep your child’s digestion system healthy. With a better digestive system comes better immunity, as the gut flora in our digestive tract is related to our immune system as well.
Veggies Have Vitamins
Your child needs all their vitamins for growing up. Vegetables can provide a wide range of vitamins, including vitamin A, K, and C. In addition, vegetables also contain antioxidants that have disease-fighting abilities.
Veggies Pack More Energy
Veggies and fruits don’t have many calories but pack in a lot of energy. If your child has a low appetite and doesn’t eat much, giving them veggies would ensure they have ample energy. They won’t feel lethargic or dull and will do well at the playground.
Veggies Help With Disease Prevention
If your child is eating healthy from the beginning, they are a lot less likely to get chronic diseases. Vegetables contain disease-preventing antioxidants that have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Similarly, eating more vegetables can help reduce the risk of obesity. Oftentimes, bad eating habits can increase the risk of obesity, even in children.
Start With Good Eating Habits For Life
Kids, although fussy, can be convinced easier than adults. If they start eating vegetables and fruits such a young age, they’ll continue eating them as an adult too. So it’s the onset of healthy eating habits that will go a long way in ensuring they stay healthy even when they grow up and go to college.
10 Tips That Work – How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Veggies?
Kids are masters when it comes to hiding their veggies. Don’t be surprised if you smell something funny around the house, only to find it’s from veggies your kid hid three days ago.
No matter how much your child resists eating fruits and vegetables, one of the following tips is bound to work. I’ve tried several of these with my own kids, and they slowly got them into a habit of eating veggies. I no longer have to try so hard!
Here are some tips to make your kid eat more veggies and healthy foods:
Steamed and Roasted Veggies
With my kids, I found that steamed and roasted veggies with a little bit of seasoning became an instant favorite. Rather than boiling them or making pureeing them for the sake of making your kids eat, try steaming and roasting them. You can also use condiments to make them more delicious.
My kids even like roasted fruits sometimes, like apples and peaches. So if you have a child who doesn’t eat fruits, try roasting them and maybe pouring just a little bit of maple syrup on them. You can tell your child it’s a dessert!
You can use roasted veggies as a side dish with their meals. At least half of your child’s plate should be full of vegetables.
Choose a variety of vegetables and switch them every day. Don’t serve them roasted carrots two days in a row.
Serve Vegetables First, Then Something They Love
This trick is common in the parenting book, but you have to be careful so as to not starve your kid. When they have been playing and studying all day, they’ll be hungry enough to eat veggies too. So, don’t plate out all the food at the same time, rather start with the veggies. Once they’re done with the veggies, you can serve something they like.
You can also use their own personal favorite dishes to make them eat their veggies. If they finish the veggies, they can eat their burger or pizza or whatever it is that they go crazy for.
Have vegetables ready when they are absolutely hungry, like when they come back from school or after sports practice. They’ll gobble up anything you put on the plate!
This is something I’ve heard from many parents that kids love veggies with dips. You can incorporate veggies into the dip or serve them with the dip. For instance, celery sticks, carrots, and cucumbers can all be served with dips.
Just prepare the dip your child loves, be it a ranch, salsa, or hummus. You can also cut these veggies in different shapes and serve them with the dip. If your child is still hesitating, maybe throw in some nachos as well.
The veggies and dip can also work when your child has a play date or party at home. That way, you’ll make a lot of kids eat their veggies. Trust me, all parents will thank you!
Sneak in Some Leafy Greens in Juices and Smoothies
Kids simply love juices, and you can use that to your advantage. At home, we use leafy greens like kale and spinach in juices all the time.
They are not even dominant in terms of flavor, so you can barely taste them in the drink, especially with all the sweet flavors from the fruits.
Similarly, you can make fruit and veggie smoothies to feed your kids the daily recommended portions of these nutritional foods. You can have fun with smoothies, but make sure to include ingredients your child likes. And make sure to tell them that!
Smoothies can be a viable way to feed your kid some fresh produce, but you don’t it to be the only one. It’s easy and quick, so sometimes, when you’re pressed for time and can’t sit and debate with the kid, just give them a delicious smoothie.
Make Yum Dishes with Veggies
If you grew up eating mushy overcooked veggies, you know that ain’t good eats, right? The internet is filled with yummy plant-based recipes. Learn how to cook them just right so they’re the tastiest they can be.
You can make a veggie casserole and throw in a bunch of different vegetables, from leafy greens to potatoes. Kale and Mustard Greens work great in baked or cooked dishes. That’s a winner recipe in my house, with kids finishing every last bit of it.
Try making delicious foods using mostly vegetables, and I’m sure the kids will love them. You can also find vegetarian or vegan alternatives to burgers, pizzas, and pasta.
When you find a recipe that your child loves, you can cook it every week and even try different variations of it.
I like to sneak kale or spinach into just about every dinner recipe I can. Taco Tuesday? Has shredded kale mixed in the cooked meat. The kiddos are still carnivores, to date. But, slowly, I’m overwhelming all our ‘family’ dishes with veggies.
Use ‘Simmer Sauces’ for a quick and easy dinner and serve it over rice or egg noodles. Instead of meat, I dice up tons of fresh carrots, red bell peppers, onions, and..yup, kale or spinach and add the simmer sauce to cook for 15-20 minutes. Then, slap that on some rice and enjoy.
Go For Fresh Produce
There’s nothing quite like fresh produce straight out of the farm. So maybe it might help to get some organic produce from the farmer’s market. Plus, kids love the outdoorsy vibe of a farmer’s market. Plus, they usually sell Kettle Korn, which is a winner, too, right? Who doesn’t love that?
When the veggies are super fresh, they taste the best. Perhaps the best thing you can do is teach kids how to pick their own produce. If you live by a farm by any chance, use that as an opportunity to make your kids understand the process. Or, simply walk thru any grocery produce section and show them how to pick the freshest, ripest produce on the shelf.
You can always ask the produce clerk for tips on identifying the best ones, if you’re not clear on that.
Cook With Your Kids
A great way to make your kids eat veggies is to involve them in the cooking process and make them your little sous chef. When they are involved in cooking, they are likely going to want to try what they’ve made, no matter how many veggies there are.
It will also teach them the importance of food and flavors and how anything that seems boring can be turned delicious. In fact, research indicates that children who help their parents cook to develop a more sophisticated palette early. Therefore, they make healthy choices in terms of eating even in adulthood.
Use Colors to Make the Plate More Fun
Colors are enticing for children, so use that on the plate as well. This is especially effective with infants and kids who have just started chewing. You can use colorful veggies together to make them want to eat them.
In any case, eating a colorful plate with different veggies is healthy and recommended by experts. This way you won’t have to run after them, and they’ll slowly start appreciating vegetables and fruits. Don’t be surprised if one day they’re asking for cauliflower or squash for dinner!
Put On Videos About Veggies
With infants and very young children, you can play videos on their tablets or the TV while you feed them veggies. There is plenty of vegetable-related content on YouTube you could put on that encourages children to eat their veggies. In the excitement of the moment, they’ll bit on anything from a celery stick to a broccoli floret.
It can also help to distract them from focusing too much on what’s going on their plate or in their mouth. Just put on their favorite cartoons and feed them by spoonfuls. They’ll be so immersed in the screen that they won’t care that you’re feeding them veggies. However, this trick won’t work when they get a little bigger.
Give Them The Power
Kids love being the boss around the house. You can entice them into veggies by giving them a choice of picking between two vegetables. While they think they’ve made the decision, you’ve smartly convinced them to eat vegetables. Sometimes they’ll go for both options.
Using choice words like choose, pick, decide, etc. helps give them a sense of adults. And we all know how quickly they want to grow up and become adults. If only they knew how fun childhood is!
You can also take them shopping for groceries and have them pick the produce they want to eat. Take them to the fresh produce aisle and have them pick veggies and fruits that they want to eat. You can always tell them that you picked it when they start getting a little fussy.
Dealing with kids eating tantrums can be frustrating, but you should never ever throw in the towel. So how to get your kids to eat more veggies? Well, research says positive parenting goes a long way, but you can also try any of the tips above.
You’ll thank yourself later when they hit their teens. They’ll eat and enjoy healthy foods all on their own. That’s a major win for any parent.