Creative Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat More Vegetables

There are many struggles that come with being a parent. One of the most common challenges is getting your kids to eat more vegetables. 

According to the CDC, children often don’t receive enough vegetables in their diet1. Then again, most adults don't eat enough fruits and vegetables either. When kids don’t see their parents or friends eating vegetables, they are less likely to eat them.

Vegetables may also lack flavor or have a strange texture if they aren't cooked and prepared well. Cooking vegetables in an appealing way makes it much easier for parents to get kids to eat healthier.

Fortunately, getting kids to eat vegetables doesn’t need to be a daily struggle. Here are a few tips for getting your kids to embrace a healthy diet.

1. Live By Example

Your kids look up to you and watch every move you make. Although you might not realize it, your kids pick up most of your habits. If you eat vegetables, they are more likely to do so.

Every meal, serve up a side of vegetables. Don’t let anyone escape it. Even though your partner might dislike greens, serve them up a side of some. If you and your other family members eat your veggies, your children might follow suit.

This tip isn’t an immediate solution. Although living by example works, it takes some time2. You need to be repetitive and firm.

2. Be Silly About It

Dinner time doesn’t need to be serious. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to get some smiles from your family. When dinner rolls around, don’t be afraid to get silly with your food.

For example, take some broccoli and stand them up in mashed potatoes. Tell your kids the broccoli are trees in a large forest. Then, tell your children that they are giraffes that need to eat the trees.

Playing games with food makes dinner time more entertaining. Instead of forcing your kids to eat their vegetables, you can gently encourage them. If this technique doesn’t work, keep at it. Over time, they might be more open to eating their greens.

3. Cook As A Family

A family that cooks together eats together. If you involve your kids in the cooking process, they are more likely to eat the food.

Start off by taking your family on a trip to a local farm or a farmer’s market. While you are there, allow your children to pick out some vegetables. They might find something unique, like purple cauliflower or little finger eggplant. They'll be more excited to try the veggies they picked out for themselves.

You can also grow your own vegetable garden. By having vegetables and herbs in your yard, you can encourage your kids to eat healthier. Allow them to do all the planting and garden care. Once they grow their first vegetable, they will likely be excited to eat it.

When you prepare your vegetables, let your children help. Show them a recipe book and give them the responsibility of picking out a recipe. During the preparations, let them assist. At the very least, let them watch.

4. Encourage Them To Try One Bite

If you force your kids to eat vegetables, the results can be disastrous. However, many parents make their children eat every bite. This technique often backfires. When mealtime is a constant battle, children learn to hate food. In fact, a negative dining experience can make children even pickier.

You can improve the experience by employing a one bite rule. The one bite rule shouldn’t be a rule as much as an encouragement3. Every time you sit down for a meal, encourage your little ones to eat at least one bite of vegetables. Make sure they know that they don’t need to finish it. If they don’t like it, they can eat something else on their plate.

You might consider rewarding them for eating one bite of something new. For example, you can praise them. Let them know that you are proud of them for trying something new. In some cases, you might consider giving them a physical reward. Many children respond well to stickers or dollar store prizes.

You should strongly encourage your children to eat at least one bit of veggies. However, don’t force it. If your child is firmly against it, let them win one battle. You can try again the following night.

5. Mask The Veggies

If you have a particularly picky eater, you might not be able to coax them to eat vegetables. However, you might be able to hide the vegetables. Dishes like cauliflower mashed potatoes and zucchini noodles feature vegetables, but they also hide them. If you choose to hide your veggies, you might have better luck getting your kids to eat them.

Many great dishes don’t taste anything like the vegetables from which they are made. Try out some new recipes and you might find a winner. If you’d rather not deceive your children, you can just try cooking your vegetables in a different way. Garlic, bacon, and cheese have flavors most children love. If you saute your spinach in garlic, your children might enjoy the flavor.

Kids who are picky eaters are often lacking in essential nutrients. We recommend NATURELO's Whole Food Vitamin Gummies, made with real fruits and vegetables, as a fun way to boost your child's daily nutrition.

References:
1. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/division-information/media-tools/dpk/vs-fruits-vegetables/index.html, Children Eating More Fruit, but Fruit and Vegetable Intake Still Too Low
2. https://familydoctor.org/nutrition-tips-for-kids/, Nutrition Tips for Kids, July 20, 2017