By Fredrica Syren:
So often I hear that kids hate vegetables or how kids don’t eat vegetables. I have heard the same story repeatedly and I’m so tired of it. It might come as a surprise that kids do eat veggies — even love them. Just like adults, they have their favorites and some they just don’t like. For example, I have two kids who are not fans of tomatoes and one who picks them off the plant in our garden and eats them as snacks.
Kids naturally mimics adults around them and will eatmostly what the family eats. So, yes, if their parents don’t like veggies and eat only a few of them and only as a small side on the plate, their kids will do the same. It should not come as a huge surprise that, when the parents eat and love lots of veggies and eat a variety of them and are not scared of trying new things, the kids naturally will also like vegetables.
I also am a firm believer that it’s how you serve the vegetables that matters. If veggies are a major part of mealtime and are super fresh and prepared the right way, kids will be more likely to fall in love with at least some of them.
My kids all eat lots of varieties of veggies. It all has to do with the fact that my husband and I always have loved vegetables and we eat lots of them. I would say that our lunches and dinners usually contain at least 50% organic plants. We usually serve cooked vegetables along with raw. We never tell our kids that they won’t like something, and we always always let them try our food when they are curious. Of course they have gone through picky phases when they have eaten less — but still will eat — vegetables, especially in soups and stews or casseroles.
Here are a few tips to get your kids to eat more vegetables:
- Parents need to be role models and eat lots of veggies — Kids do look at us adults to lead the way when it comes to how they eat and what they eat. If we don’t eat our veggies, they won’t, either.
- Make sure to buy good quality vegetables — No one likes sad looking and sad tasting food, so make sure the veggies are fresh and come from a good source.
- Let kids help pick out the vegetables — My kids love having their own little bags when grocery shopping. They can pick out two vegetables of their choice to bring home in their own bags. They are way more interested in trying to eat them this way.
- Let kids help prepare the vegetables — First of all, kids love to help in the kitchen, and I have found that when they cook their own food, they tend to eat it because they are so proud of their achievements.
- Be a sneaky mom — Over the years, I also have learned how to add more vegetables to foods they like. For example, I make avocado ice cream; put zucchini, peas and dark leafy greens into smoothies; make creamy soups with broccoli and kale; and add carrots and zucchini to baked goods.
- Be calm and never get angry — We want the kids to enjoy sitting at the dinner table. Nothing will make eating more uncomfortable for children than confrontations and angry parents. It’s so easy to get frustrated when your kids won’t eat the food we’ve slaved over, but it’s important to know it’s a journey and work in progress. By making eating vegetables fun, they will eventually come around.