Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, but many children don’t like them. Instead of fighting with your kids or giving up in frustration, try these strategies to get them to eat more vegetables.
Offer Vegetables in Different Ways
Sometimes kids don’t want to eat vegetables because they don’t like them prepared a particular way. Try cooking vegetables with a variety of methods, such as sautéing, steaming and roasting to see if your kids prefer one over others. Some children only like to eat raw vegetables.
Cut vegetables into fun shapes or sprinkle some seasoning or cheese on them to make them more appealing. Have your kids try vegetables with hummus, dip or guacamole. When making foods such as tacos or pizza, give your kids a long list of possible toppings, including their favorites and some new vegetables, and let them experiment with various pairings.
Serve salad with dinner on a regular basis. Include different combinations of vegetables so your kids can experience a range of flavors.
Get Your Kids Involved
Your children will be more inclined to try new foods if they are involved in planning and preparing meals. Look for recipes with creative ways to serve vegetables. Teach your kids about where vegetables come from and how they’re grown. Take your children grocery shopping with you, teach them how to tell if vegetables are ripe and let them choose some veggies to buy for snacks. Let them help you prepare meals to the extent that they are able.
Kids are often reluctant to try things that are unfamiliar. If you offer your children a particular vegetable several times (days, weeks or months apart) and it gradually becomes familiar, your kids may become curious and may eventually be willing to try it.
Be a Good Role Model
Children learn and develop habits by watching their parents. Set a good example by eating a wide range of vegetables at mealtimes and for snacks. Kids will also be more likely to consume healthy foods if family members eat dinner together regularly.
If those strategies are unsuccessful, look for ways to hide vegetables in foods your children like to eat. If you make pasta for dinner, mix some zucchini noodles in with the noodles you usually make and don’t tell your kids. Put some shredded carrots in tomato sauce and other sauces where they won’t be visible. Serve mashed cauliflower and let your kids think they’re eating mashed potatoes.
Figure Out What Works for Your Family
Many kids are picky eaters, but there are ways to make sure they get the nutrients they need. Look for ways to make vegetables appealing to your kids and, if necessary, be a little sneaky so they get the vitamins and minerals they need.