Children can be very stubborn about eating vegetables. I don’t have children myself, only cats, but I do see many children in my practice. Parents often ask me for tips to get their kids eating less junk food and more vegetables. In this regard, I have been studying the scientific literature and talking to my clients with kids to reveal the secrets of how to children to eat veggies.
The great news is it is not mission impossible. The bad news is that it is not easy, but if you are willing to be persistent in your efforts, you should succeed in the end.
In this article, you will learn about 10 different strategies that you can try to get your kids to eat veggies.
10 Strategies To Get Your Kids To Eat Veggies
1. Walk the Talk
Studies show by far the best predictor of a child’s eating behaviour is the eating patterns of her parents. If vegetables are not a stable in your diet, then how do you expect your kids to eat them. A child will eat what they know, and will not ask for something else if they do not appreciate it is an option.
2. Make food more appealing
Children like to use their imagination and play make-believe.
Carrots can be unappealing to a child wishing for burgers and fries.
But if they can imagine a rabbit who needs to eat five carrots to outrun a fox, suddenly those carrots are a lot more attractive.
Another interesting idea is to give foods fun names.
In a 2012 study, researchers tested the effect of re-labelling familiar foods.
The researchers found that American elementary school students ate more carrots, broccoli, and green beans when cafeteria menus called these vegetables X-Ray vision carrots,” “Power Punch Broccoli,” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans.”
Associating wholesome food with fun stuff the child already loves and transforming it into a game is an excellent way to get them to eat more veggies.
3. Get kids involved in the kitchen
Engaging kids in the kitchen at home may make them more likely to choose healthy foods, according to one research study.
Taking your children with you to the grocery store and letting them choose one or two veggies to cook for supper can make them far more likely to eat it later.
Better yet, start a vegetable garden in your backyard and show them how to grow and harvest their own.
Studies submit that kids may eat more fruits and vegetables when the produce is home-grown
Getting them to clean parsnips and peel onions will give them a sense of pride and will make mealtime more appealing.
4. Be consistent and persistent
We know that kids are more likely accept foods after regular exposure.
One study found a correlation between the number of different fruits and vegetables that parents bring home and their preschoolers’ willingness to eat fruits and vegetables.
Another study found that kids grow their desire for and consumption of vegetables after they are invited to taste them every day for two weeks.
5. Don’t force them to finish
One of the biggest myths among parents is that pushing their child to eat food they do not like will get her to alter their behaviour.
On the contrary, enforcement will create an unsatisfactory meal experience, and the child will associate food with the negative feelings.
Negative food encounters have the opposite of the aspired effect and increase picky eating tendencies.
For instance, one study found that kids who were made to eat fewer fruits and vegetables and more unhealthful snacks.
Creating positive food experiences through giving non-food rewards can reduce picky eating bents.
Research has shown that rewarding a child for attempting one bite of a rebuffed food with stickers may make it easier for them to try the food.
7. Understand your child’s values
Kids don’t see the world as adults do. Consequently, they have very different values.
Children do not care about health. Most kids think they’re invincible.
Therefore, explaining that a vegetable is healthy, is unlikely to motivate them.
On the other hand, most kids feel checked by their size and yearn to be bigger and stronger.
Explaining that sprouts “will help you grow big and strong” is hence more compelling than, “sprouts are healthy.”
8. Offer diverse food colours
One thing you have working in your favour is that children like colourful foods.
You can achieve this by putting vegetables of different colours on their plates.
While adults tend to like flavours mixed, kids frequently prefer them separate.
9. Arrange food in fun patterns on the plate
Another motivation to eat veggies that children enjoy is when you place their food into patterns on their plate.
Unlike adults, who favour foods near each other in the centre of their plate, kids like their food separated into piles around the edge.
If you shape food into a smiling face, kids will like it even more.
This strategy is another way to make food fun.
10. Pair new foods with old favourites
If your child resistant to trying new foods, you can try tricking them by pairing new foods with the flavours they love.
Researchers tested this idea by offering kids with a choice of two kinds of chips one familiar and one new.
The kids who eat the familiar dip were more likely to try tasting the new chips.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your efforts to get your child to eat veggies, I would suggest you find a good health coach to help you. I use a health coach in my practice when clients, both kids and adults, need help in changing their diet and lifestyle habits.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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