MANY parents will tell you that getting their kids to eat vegetables is a fight that often ends with the kids winning the battle. No matter what strategies they use, some parents say, their kids still grow up being vegetable-hating little people, and they often have to resort to vitamins and supplements so the kids stay healthy.
Paediatricians will tell you that one of the keys to creating vegetable lovers is to introduce vegetables as first foods, so the babies will acclimatise themselves to the taste before tasting the wonders of sugar present in fruits. So when baby starts eating solids, try them with green peas, pumpkin and the like, before the bananas and apple sauce.
Here are some other tips for creating vegetable lovers:
1. Be creative. Rename vegetables to make them seem more appealing. A vegetable could be named after a favourite cartoon or fictional character that your child absolutely loves. Linking the vegetable with something they already know would be more effective than just telling them to come and have some cabbage.
2. Raw is best. Most vegetables wilt during the cooking process, making them seem less attractive to your child. So, other than just being more nutritious, raw vegetables are tastier, crunchier and look better.
3. Let them go shopping with you for vegetables. Many parents allow their children to select their snacks at the supermarket, but not the vegetables. If you have not been doing so, allow your children to select their vegetables when you take them to the produce aisle or to the market. You will find that they would be more willing to eat it when they play a part in choosing it.
4. Get them to help out in the kitchen. Have them assist in preparing healthier snacks in the kitchen, especially on weekends when you have more time on your hands. It will not only give you the opportunity to bond with them, but it will also help to make them more responsible. Plus, many children love to get their hands dirty, so they won't mind juicing and cutting vegetables with their little craft kid scissors.
5. Make smoothies. The great thing about fruits and vegetables is that they make great smoothies that even the pickiest of eaters won't want to pass up. So have fun with your child as you mix and blend to find that perfect combination of fruits that will keep them wanting more. There is no limit to the number of smoothie recipes you can create; just make sure you remember to add some milk for calcium.
6. Don't bribe or reward them to get them to eat. Bribing seems like the easiest way to get a child to do something, and unfortunately, some parents feel the need to do so when trying to get them to eat their veggies. It's even worse when you bribe them with sweets to get them to eat healthy. Doing so only confirms their belief that vegetables are something bad.
7. Play veggie games. Turn eating vegetables into a challenging game, which you and your child can partake in. A great game to play is to challenge your child to eat a fruit or vegetable, beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet per day.
8. Use stories. Make up crazy story ideas about the vegetables you are about to feed your child. Include the VeggieTales cartoon characters in the mix. Hopefully they will be so captivated that they will forget that they are even eating something they don't like. You can even borrow from the classics and add your own touch to them.
9. Jazz it up. You would be amazed at what your child will eat if it is presented in a fun way. So when preparing those veggies, remember to present them in unusual designs and shapes. There are a number of utensils on the market that will enable you to make your food presentations much more appealing.
10. Make it more accessible. If you want your child to eat their vegetables, then you have to make it easy for them to reach it. Ensure that you place fruits and veggies in full view of children, so that when your children cannot find anything else to eat in the house, they can find them.
When they can relate their favourite characters to vegetables, kids may be more likely to eat.