There seems to be some innate bodily reaction in kids that tells them that vegetables are the enemy. The good news is there are ways to change that attitude around.
Instead of sneaking veggies into sauces like you’re on some kind of spying mission, you can get your kids excited about eating vegetables. Here are some ideas of ways to motivate your little eaters.
Grow Your Own Garden
Whether you grow one in a windowsill or in your backyard, growing your own garden is a great way to get your kids involved with their food and excited about eating it. By growing your own vegetables, you can limit pesticides, save yourself money, and educate your children about gardening.
Combine that with the sense of ownership your kids gain from what the plants produce, and you may find a sudden desire to eat the vegetables you once battled them to eat.
Have Them Help You Cook
When kids have an active part in meal preparation, they are far more likely to partake in the results. After all, they helped create them!
Have the kids help you pick out a recipe, take them to the grocery store and let them help you pick out the ingredients. You can teach them to read labels, identify ingredients and even improve their math skills.
Once you arrive home, get them cooking with you in the kitchen. It will be a great bonding experience and will motivate them to try the food that they made.
Kids are notorious for their reluctance to try new things, especially green ones. If you create a reward system for eating vegetables, you can all win big.
You can use stickers, have them select the book to read for the night, or they can choose a game to play. Not only will your child get the benefit of eating the vitamins and minerals their body needs, but they may also discover that they like some vegetables and develop healthy eating habits. If eating vegetables becomes part of the nightly dinner protocol, it may become second nature and set them up for a pattern of healthy eating for life.
Kids love to dip foods in things. Catsup doesn’t have to be the only way to move a food from the plate to the mouth.
Any number of dips can make vegetables more palatable. They can dip foods into hummus, ranch dip or any kind of salad dressing. If it makes it a little yummier, they are bound to eat it. So let them experiment with different kinds of dips.
Lead b y Example
This is not the time to play the “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” game. Your children look up to you, and they watch you closely. If you are telling them to eat their vegetables and you’re not touching them yourselves, they may suspect that something is up.
So make sure that you are comfortably enjoying your greens, yellows, and oranges in front of your little ones. Your good habits will rub off on them, even if it comes from that irresistible bite off of mom or dad’s plate.
Visit a Farm and Pick Your Own
Depending on the season and where you live, this can be a powerfully effective option. When children learn how a farm works, they can form deep connections to the food they eat. They learn where it comes from, how it’s grown, and can pick their own.
This can establish a sense of understanding and ownership that you can’t fully replicate in a grocery store or through the pages of a book. It’s a great educational experience and can lead to a vested interest in eating from the place they learned about.
Make it a Game
Kids love playing games. If you can make it fun to eat vegetables, your children will love the challenge that comes with eating them. Use the five senses as a way to sample new vegetables by doing the following:
– Quiz them on the colors in a mixed salad.
– Ask them what “red” and other colors taste like.
– Challenge them to identify other similarly colored foods or even others in the same food group.
– Combine juices together to guess what colors will be made when mixed together.
– Observe and discuss what each food feels like, and expand their vocabulary at the same time.
– Discuss how each item smells and if they can think of other foods they have smelled that one in.
If these ideas don’t work, have them make up a game of their own. Nothing gets a kid more excited about doing something than being a part of the creating process, especially a game. Before you know it, eating vegetables will be a competitive sport.
Getting kids excited about eating vegetables may not be as hard as you think. By using a few of these strategies, your children can embrace the vegetables on their plates as friends, and you can put away the reconnaissance missions. With a little experimentation of which methods work, you can successfully get your kids eating their vegetables and establish good eating habits that will last them a lifetime.
How do you get your kids excited about vegetables?