Unpalatable Greens: How to Make Kids Eat Them Anyway
Holly Easterby is a strong supporter of eating organic foods. She shares content about kids and family at Bonza Brats and in blogs like this one. In this article, she will be talking about how parents could make their kids eat vegetables.
“Green vegetables are healthy! Come on honey, eat them. I am not letting you off the table until I see all of your green peas gone from your plate.” But mom and dads, do you remember the first time you ate your veggies? How did it taste like? Was it yummy like roasted chicken? Or did it even come close to that of barbecued pork? The thing is, taste buds don’t lie. Vegetables may be nutritious, but not many people easily warm up to their taste. Nevertheless, growing kids need the nutrients found in these. So how can you let kids eat their vegetables without going through the usual fight at the dinner table?
Ways to Trick Kids to Love Their Veggies
If you are having a having a hard time feeding your kids some vegetables, why not try the tips below:
- Carefully choose their first bite. There are so many vegetables found in the market. Some of these are bitter while some are sweet. Choose the latter when feeding your kids some vegetables for the first time. Examples of sweet vegetables are sweet potatoes, beets and squash. Even though bitter vegetables can support better digestion, it’s a sure way to make your kids hate their greens. The same holds true for excessively spicy foods.
- Don’t force them to eat everything in their plate. Eating should be an enjoyable experience. Consuming a certain food you barely like is already considered too much. When you force your kids to finish every single vegetable on their plate while knowing that they do not like it, eating in general becomes an undesirable experience. And if it this happens every time vegetables are served, then they’ll associate the experience to these.
- Regulate snacks. Ideally, you should eat five small servings of food in a day- three meals and two snacks. Some parents tend to try and fatten up their kids with unhealthy snacks such as chips. Snacking on processed foods is not contributing to healthy living for kids. Furthermore, these could make them lose their appetite once dinner comes. Cut the portion of snacks being given to your child. When their stomachs are almost empty, they are more likely to eat anything that’s on their plate.
- Incorporate veggies in meat. It’s okay to mix your greens with meat. If it’s a salad, why not add bacon to make it tastier? You can also do this in pastas and soups. Instead of the usual baked macaroni, why not toss in a bit of zucchini, carrots and broccoli in there too and turn this into a vegetable pasta recipe?
- Disguise it as a sweet treat. Children love eating ice-creams and other sweet desserts. Why? There is something about sweets that can put a smile on your face. It makes adults and children alike very happy. Instead of buying pre-packed cookies, cakes, ice creams and other desserts, make you own healthy snacks. You can just add the veggies in these and kids will never be able to tell the difference. How about some carrot cake?
- Play with colors. Color adds life to your food. Eating is an activity that activates your four senses- your sight, taste, touch and smell. Instead of just relying mostly on the sense of taste, you can trick your kid to think that the vegetable on their plate are very delicious by not limiting their options to green vegetables. Carrots for orange, a little bit of tomatoes for reds, and squash for yellow. Instead of serving all these colors in one dish, you can also serve these individually on different days to break away the monotony.
- Explain why it’s important. Teach them the science of the importance of vegetables for kids. Watch a video together that explains why- what happens when they do it, and what happens when they only eat meat on a daily basis. A very good bait for kids to eat veggies? Try telling them, “Did you know that vegetables could make you smarter?” But only say this after you’ve done your research.
- Arrange it in a fun way. Have you ever seen a cute Japanese, Korean or Thai bento box? They like to make fun shapes out of their foods. You will be able to see Hello Kitty’s face, teddy bears, figures of grandmas and granddads, pandas, and other popular animals and cartoon characters. The good thing about bento lunches is that these contain a mix of every food group. You can borrow ideas online or you can just shop for bento makers from retail providers. Or better yet, time to take your cooking skills to a new level and learn Asian cuisine.
- Shop and cook together. Let your kids help you with shopping for the right foods and cooking them too. Never mind the mess in the kitchen. Kids who cook their own foods mostly end up tasting and eating them. Call this the veggies shopping day and let them cook the ones they pick up at the market. And if you want to get them really interested in cooking, why not shop for a kid’s chef hat and apron too?
- Spice it up. Salt and pepper are not the only spices that could make a dish taste good. Sesame oil for example could make sautéed carrots, sprouted beans and spinach taste a whole lot better. So why not experiment using flavored oils or herbs and spices like basil, garlic, or parsley. If you are not sure about the best vegetable and herb combination, there are sources online that can provide this for you.
If you want to feed your kids with even healthier vegetables, you can also try growing these on your own. Some of the vegetables found in the market nowadays were grown with the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. In comparison, a vegetable garden in your backyard offers the advantage of plucking one’s own healthy organic food for you and your family. This activity could also help kids appreciate and learn more about the benefits of eating their veggies.
Author: Holly Easterby
Holly’s love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children’s fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby