Getting kids to eat their veggies can by trying, tiring and stressful. This stress can have a negative impact not only on you or at your dinner table, but also on your child. It’s important to be patient with your picky eater when they don’t want anything to do with their vegetables. Patience is a virtue and nothing proves that more than dealing with children who just won’t eat their greens.
The problem is is that veggies have a lot to contend with. They are likely to lose against any of a number of foods, especially against sugary foods, such as yogurts, pop tarts or ice cream.
A child’s taste buds are still developing, but unfortunately they are being overly stimulated by processed foods that are at the perfect bliss point. This bliss point is the perfect combination of sugars, fats and salts that make a food tasty, but not completely satisfying, so you keep wanting more. Green beans just don’t have this to offer.
So how do we, as parents, contend with this? Luckily, there are a few ways to get your picky eater to start eating new, healthy foods without having to scientifically engineer foods to taste good, like those food manufactures do to reach the bliss point. Here are just a few of the ways…
Healthy Habits for Kids: Be Consistent, Not Persistent
When it comes to serving new foods to your kids be consistent, not persistent. To develop healthy habits for kids by getting them to eat healthier foods, it takes up to 30 exposures of a new food for a child to actually taste it. So if your little one isn’t having broccoli during mealtime, don’t fret! He just needs time. That’s why it’s good to try and expose your child to these foods more than just at one meal. There are plenty of fun interactive ways you can get them more exposed to new foods.
When it comes to persistence, don’t make the dinner table stressful by force-feeding your child or pressuring him to eat. The dinner table shouldn’t be a place of stress. Being overly persistent will make your child shut down and protest.
Cooking and Gardening with kids
Cooking with your kids is a great place to start when it comes to getting your child more exposed to new foods. Kids will have fun cooking with you, which will create a good bond between you and your little one. Not only will you two get closer, but your child will be more willing to try new foods because they will be sharing in the cooking process.
Exposing kids to the whole process of food production will get them more time with the food they normally wouldn’t want to spend any time with. The fact that your kid will be growing foods will create a sense of pride that will translate in him wanting to cook the food, serve the food and eat the food.
Snack Time and Preparation
Start offering a vegetable at every snack and mealtime. That’s at least 5 to 6 exposures a day! Think about how fast your child would be getting accustomed to seeing these foods. If your child eats veggies or fruits during snack time, that means you don’t have to worry so much if your kid doesn’t eat his greens during dinner time. He already got those foods during another meal.
You can present fruits and veggies in so many different ways. With potatoes you can turn them into fries, hash browns, bake them, etc. Even though fries aren’t healthy, your child is still consuming a healthy food. You can change them up, slowly work your kid into having healthier versions, but sometimes you have to start unhealthy. But don’t just think that you can make only potatoes into fries. There are plenty of veggies that can be cut into fry shapes (such as carrots, sweet potatoes and jicama) and your kid will still love them! My kids love almost anything cut in fry shapes.
Switch Up Grocery Shopping
When you shop, go with your kids. Try and work with them and together pick out healthier foods. Try not to pick out processed foods. These foods are filled with empty calories. Try your best at staying out of the snack aisles. Go to the produce section instead. It’s okay that your kid sometimes wants and eats unhealthy snacks, just try to make the healthier ones a priority.
So you see, when it comes to picky eating there are a number of ways to combat it. These methods require a lifestyle change. So get started today by planting a garden, cooking with your kids or creating healthy pre-made snacks! You won’t regret it!
Check out these other resources to help your child learn to love their veggies:
- Use Nibble Trays to Help with Picky Eating
- Why You Should Grow a Garden with Your Kids
- Top Picks: Cookbooks
- Top Picks: Gardening Books