By now we all know the wonderful things about vegetables and how important it is for kids to get enough to meet their vitamin and mineral needs. Telling kids to eat their vegetables because they’re “good for you” doesn’t always swing their vote, and getting to to their greens can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help peak your child’s interest in vegetables. Here are some tricks and tips for getting your kids to go for the good stuff:

  1. Don’t use rewards. Telling your kids to finish their broccoli before they can have dessert sends the wrong message. By doing this, dessert becomes the holy grail and broccoli becomes the obstacle to getting there.
  2. Learn what your kids like. Some kids won’t eat boiled veggies because they’re too soft or mushy, but they like the crunch of quick-steamed or baked veggies. Cooking methods that don’t change the colour, texture or flavour of vegetables too much are often better accepted by kids. However, different kids like different textures. Knowing your own child’s preferences can go a long way in getting them to eat more.
  3. Make it fun! Studies have shown that making healthy foods more appealing to kids increases their intake of those foods. Using fun names like “white trees” for cauliflower makes it more fun to eat.
  4. Get kids involved. Let your kids decide which vegetables they want for dinner and even get them to help you prepare them. Kids who help make meals are more likely to want to eat them.  
  5. Offer veggies at all meals and snacks throughout the day. They may not eat a lot at one sitting, but even if they just nibble on a few veggies at each meal and snack it can add up to a few servings.
  6. Be patient. Continually offering foods over time will increase the likelihood your child will try that food. Patience is best, and remember, never for a child to eat any food.
  7. Eat your own veggies. Your kids are watching what you do more than they are listening to what you say. If you’re not eating your vegetables, don’t expect your kids to.
  8. Disguise your vegetables. If you’re still having a tough time, disguising veggies can be a useful trick to help increase the nutritional value of your child’s diet. Puree or finely chop vegetables and add them to everything from tomato sauces, homemade burgers, soups, and muffin batter. Or try adding finely chopped pickles, lettuce or tomato to sandwich spreads and they will likely go unnoticed.

Janine Bolton

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