We know our kids should eat more vegetables. The trick is getting your children to do so without tears or threats. With a few exceptions, this colorful, crunchy, vitamin-packed food group often gets a thumb’s down from children whose developing palates shy away from strong flavors and strange textures.
You can be sneaky about boosting your child’s daily vegetable consumption by hiding pureed or finely chopped veggies in spaghetti sauces, meatloaf, fruit smoothies and casseroles. But if your goal is to help your child learn to love vegetables, you need to encourage him to enjoy the flavor of vegetables for their own sake.
Veggie Loving Tips
Use these nutrition tips from Horizon Education Center staff to encourage your child to love vegetables:
• Little chefs. Take your child with you to the farmer’s market or grocery. Allow him to pick a vegetable or two to cook for family dinner and let him help with the preparation, cooking and serving. Children are usually enthusiastic about eating what they cook. Remember to praise the chef!
• Veggie fun. Make eating vegetables fun. Decorate sandwiches or scrambled eggs with vegetable faces. Give veggies fanciful names (broccoli floret "trees," mixed vegetable "bugs") and turn eating them a game. (Elephants need to eat 3 trees to outrun a lion. How many bugs can Freddie frog eat?)
• Experiment. If your child doesn't like cooked veggies, serve them raw with dip. Use sauces, dips, cheese and spices to make vegetables more palatable.
If your child doesn't like a food, don't give up. It can take 10 tries before children accept a new food. For more nutrition tips, chat with your child's Horizon Education teacher.