Dinner time doesn’t have to be a constant battle and preparing a meal for your little ones shouldn’t be a struggle. However, how often do you come across with someone saying their children eat vegetables and everything else without any worries? Nope, it doesn’t happen very often .
Veggies are the most common food items disregarded by kids, mainly because of the lack of a very sweet taste, some mealtime strategy gone-bad or just the food choices available on the stores can be more tempting than vegetables. If there’s a possibility to choose between mac and cheese vs brocoli, then you don’t need to guess hard to know which one most children will prefer.
If making your dinner plans has become a struggle and getting your kids to eat vegetables is a never-ending battle, then take a deep breath and go through these pointers that will give you some advice and motivation!
Most Common Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Vegetables (and everything else)
- Get your kids involved.
Preparing a dinner is a nice activity to share with your kids so why not get them involved in cooking? Go to the farmer’s market together and pick out veggies, let them help you in the kitchen and teach them a thing or two about cooking on the way. After having made the dinner together, you can be sure they won’t be resistant to the dish on the plate – after all, how could they dislike something they made themselves!
- Make food fun.
This is a no brainer and almost like the golden rule for getting your children to love any food out there. Make it fun! Arranging things on the plate in a fun way, putting together a colorful plate or playing: make believe games asiding dinner time is one of the best ways to make even usually scary broccoli to become there best friends. The more you do it, the easier it will be to teach them about different foods and soon, they will be waiting for the next meal including their favourite veggies!
- Be an example.
You can’t honestly expect your children to love any food item if they see you avoiding the same item like a wildfire. If veggies and other healthy food items are disregarded in your meals overall, then you can’t expect your kids to love them either. They mimic things and choices their parents make, therefore you should be aware of your own meal plan as well and you should be trying to set a good example that showcases how good healthy food really is.
- Don’t play the commander.
Most parents do the so old mistake – they force children to finish their plate and set some condition, like “no TV before you finish your vegetables!”. Clearly, this will associate vegetables with negative emotions which can lead to your children disregarding healthy eating overall even as an adult. Fighting, punishing and threatening will not lead to the wished result and will bring a counteraction instead. Avoid making this mistake at all costs!
- One bite rule is not your friend.
Another very common strategy is to enforce the one bite rule, meaning you are asking the child to try at least one bite. That’s not only fraudulent but it is proven to be ineffective in a long run. The thing is: you might try that trick one or even twice and it might work, but what if you want your little one to try something new and they are resistant? The one bite rule will not work after you’ve tried it for a couple of times. Even worse, your children are not stupid so don’t try to cheat them into eating something.
- Don’t play a charade.
This falls into the same category as the last point: don’t make it a big deal to eat something new. The less you make a deal of it, the more it’s likely for your children to actually love the food item. If you are doing a charade and blowing the thing bigger than it really is, then clearly it might make your child think there’s something wrong with the food that you have to tell them the pretty stories on how they get a candy after eating a brocoli or how they could just take one bite. You don’t need to do that when you are serving chicken or mac & cheese, so why make a fool of yourself when serving vegetables?
- Try dips.
If you’ve done everything right but for some reason your kids still don’t like certain vegetables, try dips. A guacamole or a cheese and garlic dip are divine ways to do that. The next time you are watching a movie together, why not make some carrot and celery snacks and eat them with dip. You’ll be surprised how quickly they will learn to love these veggies!
- Reward good behavior.
Children love to earn rewards so why not try a sticker-strategy. No matter the food served, have a sticker as a reward for finishing the plate. If you are doing this strategy continuously and not only for certain foods, it will feel natural and it will help to develop a healthy mindset towards all food items. No more picky eating!
- Mix the flavors.
Let’s be completely honest – steamed veggies can taste very bland. Therefore, it is no wonder if your child prefers a bowl of potato chips instead of steamed carrots. A trick is to use butter, garlic, bacon or other tasty additions to make the veggies (or any other food) taste a bit more interesting.
- Be consistent.
You can’t expect changes to take effect overnight so be patient and continue with your selected strategy. Don’t give up just after a week – healthy eating is a lifestyle that takes some time. However, if you keep going with it, the results will pay off as you will have a healthy kid who has a friendly attitude towards all food items. It’s worth it!