So, how do we get our children to eat their vegetables?! I grew up in a household where meat was paramount on our plates with bits of vegetables here and there. Embarrassingly enough, it wasn’t till my late teen years that I started to eat and appreciate my vegetables. As a Uni student, I decided that if I was living away from home, I better behave and treat myself like an adult. That meant learning to eat vegetables as well. I’m not pin-point sure how that mentality of “only adults ate vegetables” came about. But that’s a whole new discussion for later. I can clearly remember my flat mate eating a bowl of vegetables and I thought to myself, I can do that! So I did.
I then decided that if I ever had children, they would eat and love vegetables from a wee babe and not an “almost adult”.
My dear friends… I’m proud to share that my girls love eating their vegetables. Their favourite vegetables are broccoli, carrots and corn. But before I carry on, I have a little confession to make… as much as I would like to take the credit for their successful vege consumptions, it was actually my husband’s doing. His caring instincts as a father was not only for their physical safety, but also for their health and mental safety.
As you all know, the purpose of this blog is to help and motivate moms in their everyday challenges and getting our children to eat their vegetables are one of them! So, I’ve put together a list of 10 ways to help your children eat vegetables 🙂 This list is from my own experience and so far, it has worked well for my family.
1. In it together: This is very important. Both mom and dad need to be in it together. You both should want to teach and encourage your children to eat their vegetables. You need to help each other, otherwise the process will be a struggle. Admittedly, there were days where I found it much easier to cook some noodles or chuck beef patties in the oven and be done with it. But my husband is always there to add vegetables to the noodles or the patties. We help each other to help our children.
2. First foods: If you’re a mom who is expecting or have a child who is not on solids yet, introduce vegetables as one of their first foods. Trust me, it will work well for you. I would also recommend cooking fresh veges and making your own mash at home. I remember conversing with another mother about my daughter refusing to eat the pre-canned baby food I bought from the supermarket and she asked, “well, would you eat it?” to which I sheepishly answered, “No, it’s not very tasty”. Yup, I walked into that, huh! I made my own mash from then on and my babies enjoyed it.
3. Add it to their favourite meal: Try adding vegetables into their favourite meals. You decide the portion and see how they react to it. Some kids may not notice it and some will.
4. Be consistent: Usually if you’re constantly exposed to something, you eventually take or be a part of it, right? My husband and I add vegetables to our dinner every night. Sometimes for lunch as well. Including vegetables in our everyday meals allow our children to be more familiar with it and more willing to try it.
5. Testers: Introduce different vegetables for your kiddies to try. They may not like a lot of it but I guarantee you their taste buds will eventually pick a winner. My daughters don’t like every vegetable, they refuse to eat capsicum, cucumber and some others, which was discovered through testing and trying. Change or rotate your vegetables every night or fortnightly till you find a variety they like.
6. Treats: I used to tell my girls that if they ate all their vegetables, they would get a treat. It’s about getting them to try it, giving the vegetable a chance. Once they start enjoying their vegetables, rewarding them with treats will no longer be necessary. Now, my daughters eat their vegetables with no expectation of receiving a treat because they enjoy it. A treat doesn’t have to be something sweet, it can be an extra 20 mins of TV or free time before going to bed.
7. Texture: Watch how they respond to the texture of the vegetables. If it’s too mashy, too soggy or too hard. My oldest girl loves carrots but she refuses to eat it half cooked, it has to be well cooked.
8. Be an example: The best way to teach is by example, right? So mom and dad has to eat their vegetables as well. They have to see us eat it. While eating our vegetables we like to exaggerate a little and say “oh yummy!”
9. Limit their options: Don’t put too many varieties of food on their plate, otherwise they will fill themselves up with the other foods and refuse to eat their vegetables or have no more stomach space.
10. Patience: be patient, be consistent and don’t give up.
Have you had any success on how you fed your children vegetables? Please leave a comment below of your experience, I would love to hear it 🙂