Do you have picky eaters in your family? Do you wish your kids ate more veggies? This is a struggle I’m very familiar with. My kids enjoy eating cucumber, bell peppers, carrot and tomatoes and all of these raw. If they’re even slightly cooked, they won’t eat them. They also used to like broccoli and cauliflower, but now that’s a no-go. So how can you support your kids’ eating more veggies as it’s quite evident that vegetables are one the most important food groups to incorporate into their diet? Here are a few tips that have helped me and that others have had success with. Of course all kids are different, but hopefully some of these will work for you or give you some new ideas.
Make veggies fun!
In the picture above my daughters had their scrambled eggs in the form of a car! Suddenly eating became a lot more fun, because they got to eat a car. Here your imagination is the limit. I’ve also often made smiley faces and cucumber crowns. You can make the crowns by cutting the cucumber with a small knife in a zig zag pattern. So you stick the knife into the center of the cucumber with diagonal lines to create the zig zag pattern and do this all the way around the cucumber.
Try unusual vegetables.
I once had grated rutabaga at a restaurant with my salad and I thought I’d make it at home for myself just to have some variety in my salad. As I was grating the rutabaga my daughter came into the kitchen and said “Hey, we have that at kindergarten” and put some in her mouth. My daughters like grated rutabaga! Who would’ve known. So it’s good to try some more exotic and unusual veggies, because you never know what they might like. My kids also enjoy parsnip slices and cabbage.
The way you make your veggies matters.
If I serve rutabaga to my kids in slices, they won’t eat it. If I grate it, they’re more than happy to eat it. The same thing goes for broccoli and cauliflower. If I cut the florets into small enough pieces, they’re a lot less likely to try them. So it’s good to try serving veggies in different forms to see what your kids most like.
Lead by example.
Have you noticed that your kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say? They copy more what you do than what you say. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a lot of veggies yourself and also try the ones that are not your favorite. This way your kids learn that veggies are a normal part of life and that it’s ok to try something new or less to their taste.
Don’t force them to taste.
I know it’s a really good idea to try to get your kids to taste something even if they don’t want to eat it. However, I think it’s best not to make a big deal out of tasting. This way there are no negative feelings associated with tasting. Praise your kids every time they try something new or something that they previously disliked. You can also tell your children that veggies and fruit can taste a bit different each time depending on how ripe they are and how well they’ve grown. This works well in our household with tasting foods. It’s also good to keep in mind that repeated tasting increases liking.
Let them play with their food.
It’s good habit not to play with your food and I’ve certainly taught my kids that. However, it would be good for small children especially, to be able to play with their food to see what it feels like. A small child has no prior reference or experience of the new or unfamiliar food and wants to touch and feel it before putting it in his mouth. This is a good thing to try with veggies and if you e.g. give your child vocado, he’s most likely going to make a mess. However, it’s then more likely that he’ll also put it his mouth. I watched a British documentary where they tried to change the diet of families that were only eating junk food. The show’s psychologist said that a child should be allowed to play with food and that it’s good that he gets to try what it feels like in his hands so that he won’t be afraid to taste it. She also did a test on the parents with jars of suspicious looking substances like soy sauce and paint. She then asked if the parents would eat the substances without first examining them. And the answer was of course not. The parents would first smell and touch them before deciding to taste them.
Veggies as a starter.
This I use quite often in our households to get the kids to eat veggies. I once came home from the park with my kids and didn’t have lunch ready for them. So I gave them some veggies as a starter that they could eat while I was making lunch. After this one time my kids regularly ask to have a starter and veggies become an easy thing to incorporate into their diet.
If you have trouble getting your kids to eat veggies or hope they’d eat more of them. Try some these tips and tell me how it went! Or if you have some tips of your own, please share them!