After a busy day, you want to serve a tasty meal you know the whole family will enjoy. But you also want to make sure your kids are getting their recommended three to five portions of veggies. Problem is, as every parent knows, convincing your kids to eat their veggies isn’t always easy.
Well, here are 15 simple ways to turn even the most stubborn veggie refuser into a veggie lover.
1. Make it fun
Okay, you’re tired and hungry so I’m not about to suggest you recreate the cast of Frozen using vegetable shapes. But presenting food in a fun pattern or smiley face takes seconds and delights little ones. After all, who could resist eating a carrot nose or a smile made from peas?
2. Help yourself
Often when kids refuse to eat something, it’s simply because they want to feel in control. So give them the power to choose at mealtimes by presenting veggiess in serving bowls and let the kids help themselves. They may surprise you!
3. Let’s get cooking
When kids have helped prepare a meal, they are more likely to enjoy eating it. My toddler loves cutting mushrooms and tomatoes with her special safety knife. Mixing, stirring, serving; it’s all fun for kids.
4. Earn a star
Okay, not everyone agrees rewards for eating vegs are a good idea. After all, eating healthily shouldn’t be seen as a chore to be endured. But for some kids, earning a star for trying a new food or for eating three different types of veggies each day can be a big motivator.
5. Hit the shops
Let your kids help with the shopping. They will love learning about the different fruits and veggies available and you can let them choose a new ingredient every time. They’ll then be eager to try the produce when you get home.
6. What would Iron Man do?
When I was a child, my parents told me to eat my greens so I would “grow up strong like Popeye”. Now, it doesn’t really matter who your kid’s favorite character, celebrity or sportsperson is; the idea is still the same. Tell your kids their superheroes eat their veggies and they’ll be eager to do the same.
7. Choosing is fun
Dig out your favorite recipe books, or take a look online and let your kids choose recipes themselves. Again, it’s all about letting them feel in control. They are more likely to eat a dish if they’ve helped to choose it.
8. Eat the rainbow
The great thing about veggies is they really are interesting. Talk to your kids about the different shapes, colors and textures and encourage them to eat as many different colored foods as they can. You could even create a chart so they can tick off the different colors they’ve eaten each day.
9. Grow your own
A great way to get kids excited about vegs, is to let them grow their own. Even if you only have space for a couple of pots or a window box, kids can grow carrots, salad leaves, tomatoes and more.
10. Invite a friend to dinner
Isn’t it strange how kids’ behavior changes when they’re with their friends? You can use this to your advantage. If your kids have a friend who loves to eat veggies; try borrowing them for the evening.
11. Grow up strong
Often we tell kids to eat their veggies but forget to tell them why. Rather than simply saying “because they are good for you”, teach kids about the different vitamins found in various ingredients so they can understand how vegetables keep us fit and healthy.
12. Novel names
Whether it’s Percy peas or cucumber spears, kids love giving silly names to ingredients. Fun names also make vegetables seem less daunting for kids.
13. Make it interesting
If your kids find veggies boring, try serving them in different ways to make it more interesting. For example, carrot sticks can be served upright in a beaker rather than flat on a plate. A plate with different sections is also a great way to bring interest to mealtimes and can help kids feel less overwhelmed than by seeing a mound of veg on a traditional plate.
14. Mix it up
If there’s a vegetable your child claims not to like, try preparing it in a different way. For example, if they don’t like boiled carrots, you may find they love grated carrots. Don’t like cooked mushrooms? Try eating them raw instead.
15. Don’t make a fuss
Don’t turn mealtimes into a battleground; if your child really doesn’t want to eat something, don’t force them. If they sense that food gives them power, they will continue to refuse to eat certain things.
It’s not always easy, but take a relaxed approach and remember; you can always try again tomorrow.