I am a parent who wants my kids to eat more veggies. But I also want my kids to WANT to eat more veggies. I am sure I am not alone here! Here is what we are currently doing in our house to encourage more veggie eating:
Ask Questions - Why didn’t you eat it? Too soft? Too hard? Maybe your child just prefers his carrots cooked as opposed to raw or visa versa. Maybe it’s just that your child doesn’t like carrots cut into little sticks. I know lots of kids who prefer their veggies cooked but guess what? Not mine. Raw all the way. That’s fine by me because veggies and hummus as a dip is both healthy and absolutely delicious! And peanut butter with celery or carrots disappears off my kids’ plate every. single. time.
Get Them Involved - Have your kids peel the carrots and cucumbers (with supervision, of course) or have them add the veggies to the dish or smoothie you are making. If a child is involved in the preparation process they are more invested and willing to give that new veggie a try.
Provide Variety - Does your child only willingly eat 2 or 3 veggies? Make sure the familiar veggie is also on the plate when introducing a new veggie. If a familiar veggie is available it won’t be so hard to get your child to try something new. New veggie wasn’t a hit with the kiddos? I tell my kids, “That’s ok. Maybe you don’t have the taste bud yet for (insert veggie name here). I know you will grow the taste bud in time because mommy has the taste bud for (insert veggie name here) and I love it!”
Set the Example - If you eat lots of veggies, most likely your kids will, too. I try to have a veggie on my plate at every meal. Avocado on toast for breakfast (I’m obsessed) or sauteed spinach over brown rice with a fried egg on top, bean burrito for lunch with a guacamole spread and cherry tomatoes, and no matter what I make for dinner there is always a salad. I am making myself hungry just writing this! Plus, we are always making pressed juices and smoothies over here and we always add plenty of veggies. At this point, my daughter assumes there is spinach in all of her smoothies! ;)
Plant A Garden - If you plant it, your kids will pick it and eat it! Make sure the kiddos help plant the garden and help with upkeep because the more invested they are in the process, the more likely they are to try that new veggie. We are big fans of gardens at home but also think school gardens are important. They really solidify the connection with kids and vegetables (and their natural world, too!). If your child’s school doesn’t have a school garden and the teachers/school are behind starting one, check out Life Lab, a non-profit that not only helps provide the means to plant a school garden but also provides the curriculum and educator professional development to support the school garden. We are huge fans of the important work Life Lab is doing and think every child should have access to a school garden! PS Life Lab has summer camps! If you happen to live near the Santa Cruz, CA area this would be such a treat for your child during the summer! If you don’t live near Santa Cruz, CA that’s ok, do some research and find a summer camp on a farm near you!
Sneak It In - OK you’ve tried everything with your little guy and he is still refusing to try veggies. Well, you have no choice but to sneak them in! The vital nutrients in vegetables such as calcium, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, and so on are so important for growing little bodies! Check out our Pinterest board titled, "Sneak in the Veggies" for some great ideas!
How are you getting your little ones to eat more veggies? Please share with us!