Getting your kids to eat veggies
Getting your kids to eat their veggies every day is not always easy, to say the list! It can even be challenging at times. Some kids love veggies and are always happy to try anything new while for other kids it can be difficult and even danting.
Kids go through phases as hey grow and develop. Some only eat the same 2 or 3 veggies and don’t want to try anything else. Others only eat cooked veggies or only eat raw veggies. Others prefer white or orange veggies. Others don’t want to know anything about salads or leafy greens.
In my house, we went through many phases. My older son used to eat everything when he was a baby and suddenly stopped and developed an aversion for most veggies. NO MORE VEGGIES would go through his mouth and each meal became stressful for a while. My daughter on the contrary, tries anything before making a decision and prefers fruits and veggies to animal protein. While I raised them the exact same way, they are two completely different individuals with different palates, preferences and personalities
What turns them off:
- The Variety: If your child only eats 2 or 3 of the same veggies, it is a good thing. Our body is ancient and for thousands of years we only thrived on a limited number of seasonal fruits and veggies that we available. The abundance that we are used to know is very recent. Even if they tend to refuse, keep offering your children to try new veggies. As they grow, their palate will be interested in picking up more tastes and new flavors. I was an extremely picky child until I turned 12 years old at which point I started trying and loving so many new foods.
- The texture: some kids don’t like certain textures. For example, pureed food can be a turn off for some an a huge incentive to others. Pick the right texture for your child. By the way, that also can change with time so keep offering new textures regularly.
- The color: some children are turned off by certain colors. My son who is 10 years old, has an aversion for green veggies for a reason he can’t explain while my daughter who is 6 y/o loves everything green. I try to offer more than one color veggies to compromise
- The taste: children’s palates need to be trained and developed. In Europe, kids are trained to eat a little bit of everything since their childhood. Schools menus are balanced and almost always include veggies. Pizza and processed foods are rarely available on school premises. By exposing children to a variety of tasted, we educate their taste buds little by little and eventually get them to open to a variety of foods.
The little tricks:
- The one bite rule: Often unpopular with the super picky kids, it is something I really believe in as it sometimes helps them open up and discover something new they like. It also helps them gain self-confidence when their opinion is respected and valued after they try the food.
- Decrease processed foods: processed foods should be reduced to an absolute minimum. It kills their appetite and is generally very poor nutritionally, which leaves them hungry, malnourished and anxious. Including more whole foods and veggies helps them grow, move, think and sleep better.
- Include healthy snacks: children need to refuel and eat every 3hours. Including healthy snacks is really important. My daughter is a huge fan of seaweed with hummus or edamame hummus. Try to include a veggie that they like while staying away from processed bars and sweetened foods. I recommend stopping the snacks at least 2hours before the main meals. You want them to come to the dinner table hungry
- Sweet veggies: if your child has a sweet tooth, include veggies that are sweet such as sweet potatoes, carrots, leaks and peas that you can blend with veggies that have a less pronounced taste such as chickpeas, potatoes and spinach for example.
- Hide your veggies: My son does not eat green veggies if presented individually, however if I include them in a soup he does not mind. Every week, I make a big soup where I steam carrots and sweet potatoes as well as a lot of broccoli and zucchini and he devours it. I also use the soup as a sauce for he vegetable pasta I make for the school lunches.
- Cook with them: Include them in your fun culinary experiences and pick recipes that simple, colored and include some form of their favorite veggies. For example, you can make pizza together and use real ingredients such as fresh tomatoes, onions etc.