Broccoli flying through the air. It’s incidents like this that may find you wondering how to get your child to eat more veggies. Some parents give ultimatums, while others sneak veggies into the kids’ favorite recipes. Are these tactics really effective? What are the best ways to get your children to eat more veggies? Here’s some advice from the experts.
Offer Several Options
According to a video produced by Child Trends News, researchers in Australia made an interesting discovery after studying 32 families. Here’s how parents in the study got their children to eat more veggies:
- Offered a small amount regularly.
- Kept offering veggies even if children initially refused to eat them.
- Provided low-fat dips or dressings to spice things up.
In the study, children whose parents followed these guidelines increased their veggie intake. However, the kids still fell below dietary guidelines. What this means — more techniques are necessary.
Use Different Recipes
Dr. Piper Gibson is a nutrigenomics specialist and director of Advanced Holistic Nutrition. She specializes in children who range from picky eaters to those having all-out aversions to certain types of foods. She tells Parentology diversity shouldn’t solely come from just the types of veggies, but how parents prepare them.
“Cook your veggies in bacon grease or sustainable lard,” Gibson suggests. “Season them with garlic, pepper, and salt. Blast them in the oven [at] 425 degrees for 20 minutes. The seasoning and fats make the veggies extra yummy. You need fats on your veggies to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K.”
Teach Children To Cook
One surprising piece of advice many professionals gave Parentology was to involve children in the preparation process. All doctors, nutritionists, nurses and moms who gave this advice reported an increase in children eating vegetables.
Dr. Charnetta Colton-Poole is a board-certified pediatrician at Paint the Town Pediatrics. She advises parents, “You can also allow your child to choose a vegetable they’d like to help prepare during a grocery store visit.”
Keep the trend going and invite the child to help in preparing a dish with the vegetable. “Be creative,” Colton-Poole says, “Use animal-shaped cookie cutters to make vegetables look more inviting. Tasting the final product becomes a reward.”
Cooking isn’t the only part of the meal process children can get involved in. Colton-Poole recommends families grow vegetables when possible.
Carmen Eldridge, co-farm director at Arden, South Florida’s first “Agrihood,” agrees. “Kids are more likely to eat vegetables when they’re part of the growing process,” she says. “Learning about where food comes from and working in a garden helps children connect with healthy foods, like vegetables, at a whole new level. We see it all the time with the kids who volunteer on the farm and come with their families to pick up their Farm Shares.”
The Bottom Line
Getting your kids to eat more veggies can feel like rocket science. However, with a little creativity and willingness to get your hands dirty, you can pass on healthy eating habits and valuable lessons to your kids.