Seven tips to get your child to eat more veggies
“My son licks the ketchup off his vegetables and then refuses to eat them.”
“My daughter refuses to eat anything that remotely looks like a vegetable.”
These are just some of the questions I get from frustrated parents whose children refuse to eat vegetables. The good news is that with a little consistency and lots of patience, it is possible to get your little ones to eat better.
- Set an example: As so many recent studies have shown, by far, the best predictor of your child’s eating habits are your eating habits. If healthy foods such as vegetables don’t feature regularly in your home menu, you can’t really expect your kids to want to eat them. Children, much like adults, eat what they know. This means they’re unlikely to ask for cauliflower and green beans if they have not seen them around.
- Make it funChildren love games, but the idea of eating broccoli can be difficult for a child used to eating chips. However, if he’s a zebra who needs to eat five “trees” to outrun a lion, suddenly those florets look a lot more interesting. Relate healthy food to fun things that your son or daughter already loves, this way, they will be more inclined to eat what you serve.
- Get them involved
By taking your children with you to the market and letting them pick one or two items to cook for supper, they will be excited about eating them later. Better still, get your own kitchen garden going, and teach them how to plant and harvest their own veggies. You could also allow them to wash the carrots and set the table, the aim to give them a sense of pride that will make them more cooperative at meal time.
- Just one bite
Research has shown that children who initially reject a certain food need to be exposed to it around eight to 10 times for them to accept it. Get your child to have at least one mouthful of the food, and gradually move up. Furthermore, rewarding your child for taking that one bite will make him more willing to eat it in future.
- Offer a rainbow
All kids like colourful foods, so use that to your advantage and serve them coloured veggies, however, bear in mind that unlike adults who tend to like flavours mingled together, children often prefer them separate. Try to make separate vegetable dishes, rather than preparing a big, one-colour stew.
- Make pretty patterns
Arrange various vegetables in pretty patterns on a plate, for instance a heart or smiley face.
- Be persistent
Rome wasn’t built in a day! Some kids will require more effort and patience, but do remember that it is worth sticking at it: the habits they develop at a young age will remain with them long into adulthood. That is why it is advisable to tackle picky eating as soon as it rears its head.
By SONA PARMAR