Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Veggies
Getting kids to eat their veggies at dinner can often turn into a battle that leads to negative attitudes about eating healthy. Threats and bribery can often send the message that veggies are so terrible that they must come with such drastic measures! Before you even get to the dinner table there are things you can do to change perspective of eating healthy. Here are some tips and ideas that can help (these can even work for adults too!)
Take your children grocery shopping. Let them pick which veggies seem appealing. That gives your children some ownership in the vegetables, making them more likely to eat it.
Get kids cooking! Children who help cook healthy meals are likelier to eat them. Get kids tearing up lettuce or spinach for a salad or washing the veggies. Help them microwave dishes or steam chopped carrots, broccoli, or green beans. The older they get the more advanced their skills will become with helping in the kitchen and you can help them become more independent.
Taste Test. Find out which types of veggies your child likes. Just like adults, kids have a preference for the types they like more than others. We often get in the habit of serving the same thing in the same way. Keep in mind your child might not like to eat the same veggies you do.
Make a colorful plate. Be creative in presenting vegetables. Naturally vibrant colors will grab a child’s eye. For example, add bits of sweet red pepper to green beans or broccoli to spark your child’s interest.
Serve finger food veggies. Cut up veggies that kids can hold and dip in low-fat dressing. The action of dipping can add to the willingness to eat veggies and add to the flavor.
Try different types of cooking methods. The same vegetable can taste very different depending on how it’s cooked and served. Veggies canned, fresh, frozen or raw do not taste the same. Find out which method your child likes to eat with which veggies. Some kids might not like cooked carrots, but they will easily eat the raw carrots. They might prefer canned corn to frozen corn.
Serve vegetables (including green salads) as a first course. Children are hungriest at the beginning of the meal. If you serve all the meal together, your child may fill up on other foods before getting to the vegetables.
Perk up vegetables. Use seasonings other than salt, butter, or cheese. Experiment a little with a wide range of spices and juices can add some flavor and zest to veggies. For example, try lemon juice, pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg, basil, curry, oregano, or garlic on cooked broccoli. With steamed carrots, try parsley, cinnamon, lemon juice, allspice, nutmeg, mint, caraway seeds, dill seeds, ginger, mace, thyme, marjoram, honey, or pepper.
Gardening is fun! Like cooking, it’s fun to plant vegetables in a backyard garden or large pot and then watch them grow. Most kids enjoy gardening, harvesting and eating. It is a great educational experience for kids to see the process.