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Are you worried that your child doesn’t get a balanced nutrition? Do your kids make a big fuss when they have to get anything that spells health and looks green down their throat? I wouldn’t say fear not as everyday is a new fight but here are somethings that worked for me:
12 BEST WAYS TO GET KIDS TO ENJOY VEGETABLES!
1. Lead by example
This one is by far the best predictor of a child’s eating behaviour is the eating patterns of their parents. If vegetables and healthy foods are relegated to an afterthought in your household, it’s tough to expect your kids to take to them. Kids eat what they know, and they won’t ask for a special meal if they do not know it is an ‘option’. So if one of the parent is fussy make sure you never mention it or bring it up in front of your kids.
2. Make a schedule.
Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child’s diet will be much more balanced and he’ll be less cranky, because he won’t be famished. Make sure the meals are not too close and not too far.
3. Make food fun and creative.
Kids love to play make believe. They also love games. Relating healthy food to fun things the child already loves and turning it into a game is a great way to get a few bites of greens down the hatch. Also by arranging foods creatively on the plate makes it more appealing. Check our post on 21 School snack ideas, Healthy Drinks & fun foods here
4. Dip it.
If your kids won’t eat vegetables, experiment with dips. Yogurt really goes well with kids so try yogurt based dip with veggies. Also serve them with veggies and skip the chips & breads.
5. Get them involved
Children are more interested in a meal if they help with its preparation. Taking your kids with you to the farmers market or grocery store and letting them pick one or two things to cook for dinner can make them far more excited to eat it later. Letting them clean carrots, snap beans, mix the dressing and set the table gives them a sense of pride and makes them more enthusiastic and cooperative at meal time.
6. Enforce the “one bite rule”
Research consistently shows that children who have initially rejected a food must be exposed to it at least 8-10 times for the food to be accepted. Many parents have had success with the “one bite rule,” requiring the child to try at least one solid mouthful of a rejected food whenever it is served. After enough exposures the food will be more familiar to the child and usually they begin to rate it more favourably.
7. Reward good behaviour
On the other side of the coin, creating positive food experiences can decrease picky eating tendencies. Research has shown that rewarding a child for trying one bite of a rejected food with things like stickers makes it easier for them to try the food. They are also more likely to rate the food positively in the future.
8. Understand their values
Children don’t see the world as adults do, and as a result they have very different values. They could care less about health—most kids think they’re invincible—so telling them a food is healthy is unlikely to get you very far (and can often backfire). On the other hand, most children feel limited by their size and wish to be bigger and stronger. Explaining that broccoli “helps you grow” is therefore more effective than, “it’s healthy” or “because I said so.”
9. Use butter, garlic or just sprinkle some sugar
There’s nothing wrong with adding additional flavours to vegetables to make them more appealing to children. For a picky child, the most important thing is that he gets comfortable and familiar with the rejected food. If that means serving it along with something you know he’ll enjoy, like cheese or bacon, that’s fine. Use ingredients that are as close to real as children can handle a few extra calories, especially if it helps them learn to enjoy spinach.
10. Keep at it
Some children will be more difficult than others, and will require more effort and patience. It’s important to realize, however, that the habits they develop at a young age will remain with them long into adulthood. For your sake and theirs, it is worth solving picky eating problems as soon as possible…
11. Never use Force:
The easiest thing to do is use force as a parent and try to shove it down their throat but thats the biggest mistake we make as parents. If only it worked then I would’nt be writing this article and you reading it
12. Change the form:
I find this the most useful way of getting kids to try new stuff. If the kids dont like it as a veggie then try it as a soup or a different seasoning or a whole new recipe. A lot of us dont like brinjal as a vegetable but when it comes to baingan ka bharta we can have a full bowl. Kids are just like us.
Also stay tuned for our next article on ‘7 mistakes I made with veggies for kids’
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