Let’s face it: getting kids to eat vegetables is not always an easy task. But with the right approach, it’s not totally impossible. Today I’ll share my best secrets for helping kids make friends with veggies.
Why Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables is Important
There’s a reason that fruits and veggies are getting a lot of attention lately. Simply put, research shows that people who eat more of these foods tend to be healthier and live longer. New studies even link eating your veggies with better mental health.
Kids in particular have the advantage of building lifelong habits. When kids learn healthy habits in childhood, they’re much more likely to continue those into adulthood.
3 Secrets for Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables
Knowing something and doing something are two very different things! I know firsthand how tough it can be getting kids to eat vegetables. So here are three highly effective secrets you can use to help them build this healthy habit:
Secret #1: Dress Up Those Veggies
Vegetables don’t have to be boring. Kids who might be turned off by plain steamed veggies might gobble them down if you give them a little pizazz. Here are a few good ways to dress up those vegetables:
- Sauté in butter. Did you know butter is actually good for you? It also happens to be delicious. Most vegetables taste divine when sautéed in butter with a touch of sea salt.
- Give ’em some dips. Have some yummy dips on hand to give your veggies more flavor. Slice up some bell peppers, carrots, or celery (string beans are also great for dipping!). Then try some fun dips like homemade salad dressings, hummus, or cream cheese dip. Or go for double veggie goodness with some spinach dip!
- When in doubt, add some cheese. Tap into the fact that most kids love cheese and smother those veggies in it! This can be a good way to introduce veggies until their taste buds get used to the new flavors. Then you can cut back on the cheese and let the veggies take center stage.
Secret #2: Start Small and Try, Try Again
While it can feel discouraging when your child just doesn’t want to try new foods, remember that repeated exposure is the key. Research shows that kids may not like new foods until they’ve tried them up to 15 times.
Pick 2-3 vegetables that you’d like to see your child eat regularly. Then, start serving one of those veggies each night (or at least a few times each week). It might take a few weeks, but over time you might find that your child is more willing to give it a try.
Remember when you hated pickles but eventually learned to crave them? Taste buds also need time to adapt. It’s best to start slow and be consistent. Try this:
- Instead of loading your child’s plate up with full servings of veggies right off the bat, try just a bite at first.
- Once they become open to trying the vegetable (after repeated exposure, of course – see above!), then you can work on adding a little more.
- Keep in mind, your child will still be healthy and strong even if they don’t eat lots of veggies every day. The point is to build healthy habits over time.
Secret #3: Make Them Your Little Helpers
The more your kids are involved in creating meals, the more likely they’ll get more adventurous with their food choices. Here are a few ways to include kids in the process:
- Garden buddies. Research shows that kids who garden with their parents (or even simply watch their parents garden) are more likely to eat their vegetables. Get kids involved from the beginning: have them help choose seeds or seedlings to plant, care for the plants as they grow, and harvest the veggies when it’s time.
- Go shopping. Give your child room to help plan the grocery list. You can offer them a choice between which vegetables they’d like on the menu. Take them to the store or farmers market and show them how to choose the most delicious veggies.
- Little chefs. Most importantly, have your kids help out with preparing meals. Even young children can help add chopped veggies to a baking dish. Older kids can even prepare a full meal by themselves.
Bonus tip: Sneak them in!
If your picky eater still isn’t a big veggie fan, you can always find creative ways to sneak vegetables into your regular meals. Pureed veggies like carrots or spinach are easy to add to marinara, chili, soups, and sauces for some added nutrients. You can definitely sneak veggies into a delicious smoothie recipe! And doTERRA just introduced a great option for all of us to get 1-2 more servings of vegetables & fruits with their Greens Powder. There’s currently a starter kit with whole food-based supplements, protein powders, fiber and those seriously yummy powdered greens! Reach out with any questions about those.
Any tips for getting kids to eat vegetables?
Do you have any tried-and-true tips to share? Any big wins or major fails? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!
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