Do you struggle with your kids eating enough vegetables? Are you worried they aren’t getting enough of the good stuff? You’re not alone, this is one of the biggest worries parents have for their children. You’ll learn two surprisingly simple ways to get kids to eat vegetables – willingly! No, seriously. No more begging, bartering or hiding vegetables in other food.
If you’re like me, you probably worry your kids aren’t eating enough of the good stuff.
When they were babies, it was easy enough to open a jar of baby food and watch them devour sweet potatoes and peas without a second thought. Fast-forward a few years and now that they’ve had a taste of the good stuff, anything green and healthy generally falls into the automatic category of “will not eat if my life depends upon it.”
Sure, we all know the benefits – and necessity – of eating vegetables and healthy foods. It boosts brain development, helps academic performance, is essential for proper growth and fuels the body as they run around like crazy little madmen all afternoon – but try telling that to a kid who protests the good stuff.
If you were to offer up crackers and carrots, which one do you think they’ll choose?
Hint: it’s not the carrots.
I used to feel like a broken record telling my kids to eat their veggies at dinner. I’d watch them push spinach around while they ate everything else and then asked to be excused. I felt defeated but also didn’t want to force them to eat vegetables, afraid it would ruin their willingness to even look at something of substance in the future.
I tried slicing vegetables into microscopic little pieces, pureeing and blending into sauces and smoothies but this was time-consuming and ultimately, not worth the effort. Their taste buds would send off an alarm screaming “vegetable” just by the sight, smell and texture of one of my concoctions and the experiment would end in defeat.
Right before I almost gave up and let them sustain on a diet of white bread and peanut butter, I found two simple tricks to ensure they eat vegetables daily without forcing or trying to barter with them for a single bite.
The trick is not to hide vegetables in other foods, but to offer it for them to eat on their own.
Say what? That doesn’t make sense.
Bear with me here.
HOW TO GET KIDS TO EAT VEGETABLES WILLINGLY
Kids will eat almost anything when they’re hungry, right? Take advantage of this fact!
Push back dinner time 15-30minutes later than normal but offer a first course at the regular time. When kids are wired to eat a certain time, their bodies are ready and hungry and this is the right time to offer up vegetables to munch on before the main meal.
Set out a tray of carrots or cut up vegetables with salad dressing to dip and before you know it, they’ll all be gone. Experiment with vegetables – celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, jicama, and mushrooms are all great for dipping and have different enough textures to satisfy different eaters.
Another healthy pre-dinner option?
Put together small salads to eat as a first-course while dinner is still being prepared.
Grilled artichokes are a huge hit at our house and are eaten in about 3 minutes flat from the time they’re set on the table. They require a little prep work – 45 minutes of steaming and 5 minutes on the grill for extra taste – but the kids love the task of pulling off the leaves and biting down to get to the yummy stuff.
Think of dinner as a restaurant-style experience with two courses.
Load up the first course with vegetables when they’re really hungry and then serve the main dish after they’ve already eaten the good stuff, and they’ll be less apt to reach for white foods like bread and carbs.
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