Let’s face it, some kids simply hate veggies. You may find that you’re playing hide and seek when it comes to meals. Have you ever hidden the peas in the pancakes? Have you ever added squash to the pasta sauce? If so, you’re not alone. I’ll be you’ve even pureed spinach and put it in a smoothie before.
Of course, one of the things about kids is that they tend to catch on to these sneaky tricks as they grow older. Perhaps it’s time to come up with some new sneaky ways to get them to eat those veggies.
Thankfully, there are more ways that are much easier to sneak those veggies in and teach kids to enjoy them than force feeding them via sneaky methods. Here are some painless ways to get them to eat those veggies.
1. Treat those veggies with respect. When you give kids an ultimatum such as, ‘if you don’t eat your veggies you won’t get dessert’ you’re sending a negative message about veggies to the kids. Instead, teach kids how healthy those veggies are to get them to eat them.
2. Quit hiding the veggies. According to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition, kids enjoy baked goods with veggies, even if they find out that there are veggies in them. Let the kids help prepare the baked goods and help put the veggies in and watch them eat them.
3. Give kids the power, figuratively speaking of course. When kids think they are the ones in charge guess what, they will eat those veggies. Studies done in kids ages 4 to 12 found that when they had choices, as to which veggies they could eat, they made much wiser choices. So go ahead and lay out some healthy veggies and let them pick and choose which ones they will eat. Lay them out in salad form and allow kids to ‘create’ their own salad.
4. Grow your own veggies and give kids their own veggie patch. Kids will enjoy planting, weeding and watching their own veggies grow and then, they will want to eat them.
5. Choose veggies that crunch. Kids love to hear that crunch and when they hear it, they want more. Avoid anything that is mushy or squishy and of course, anything that is slimy.
6. Let kids follow your lead and be sure to eat and enjoy veggies yourself. When kids see you enjoying veggies they will be much more likely to enjoy them themselves.
7. Come up with some non food awards for the best veggie eaters. Kids love to be in competition and be the one that gets the reward. Children as young as 3 and 4 will love the competition. Offer a sticker to those who will at least taste an ‘unliked’ veggie. Those who decide to eat the entire veggie get a bigger sticker.
Within a week to 12 days most of the kids are still enjoying that new veggie. Within three months they are asking you for that veggie. This won’t work for all of the kids but for those it does work for, it’s a great incentive.
8. Make it fun. Make a dip and allow kids to dip their veggies. Dips can be peanut butter, ranch dressing or any other dip that kids choose. Offer healthy dip options or better yet, let kids help you make the perfect dip. Now watch them munch on those veggies.
Be sure to offer up a variety of veggies for the dips. Veggies like broccoli, celery, carrots, mushrooms, red, yellow or green bell peppers cut into strips are all ideal for dipping.
9. Enlist help. Ask everyone that comes into contact with your kids to help by offering them only veggies. When kids have to choose from veggies they will make wise choices. Avoid offering up candy and junk foods that aren’t nutritious and won’t help keep the momentum going. Pack healthy lunches with plenty of veggies and some fruits to counteract those sweet tooth problems that we all suffer form.
10. Never give up. Remember that parents have dealt with veggie issues for decades. Kids have always tried to hide those veggies so take away the mystery and give them options that they will enjoy. Take them shopping with you and enlist their help in picking them out. Plant the garden and watch them grow. A successful plan will be consistent and take a lot of perseverance on the parents part.
Remember that it can take 10 or more exposures to a veggie before a kid will even consider tasting it let alone eating it. Try the above measures and see if you don’t meet with a bit more success in getting your little veggie hater to taste something new and enjoy a veggie today. You’ll be amazed at how well it works.