Ever wonder why kids tend to prefer fruits over vegetables? Yes, you guessed right—it’s the sweetness. However, it is also because we are born with a natural preference for sweet foods.
A healthy diet means eating lots of vegetables, plus a wide variety of foods from the other main food groups. Veggies give your child energy, vitamins, fibre and water. They help to protect our children against diseases later in life, including heart disease and some cancers. This being said, how do we get them to eat more?
Ways to getting more colour into your child’s diets
- Be a role model: Family meals are a great way to teach your child about healthy eating. If your child sees you and their siblings filling plates with vegetables to enjoy, they will probably want to copy you. Your child learns about food choices from you, so the best way to encourage your child to eat veg is to let them see you eating and enjoying them yourself.
- Keep offering: It is normal for children to say that they don’t like vegetables when they first taste them, especially the bitter-tasting ones like spinach, broccoli and cabbage. However, it’s important to keep offering them, as it can take up to 10-14 times before they eventually give in and accept. This is why adults tend to eat more vegetables than kids—frequent exposure! Make sure to never take them off the plate, as it can be hard to get them back onto the plate.
- Involve them in the cooking of vegetables: If your child gets more involved in the prepping and cooking of vegetables, they are more likely to eat them.
If you are still finding it really challenging, you can also disguise vegetables in the foods that you know your child likes to eat. Don’t worry; this won’t change their behaviour and thinking about vegetables. It’s also important to continue to regularly give your child vegetables in their original form. When you do this, your child has the chance to get familiar with and learn to like different tastes and textures.
- Include pureed or grated vegetables in pasta sauces or soups. Then, gradually increase the size of the vegetables so that they get used to the textures, as well as the taste.
- Spaghetti Bolognese and lasagna dishes are a great way of adding lots of vegetables to your kids’ dinner.
- Try making fritters out of vegetables such as peas, carrots, courgette, or sweet potato. These can be a great way to disguise vegetables.
- Savoury muffins packed with vegetables are a really tasty and handy snack that work well in a lunchbox.
- Make vegetable fries. Sweet potato can be a popular option here. You can then add in carrots or parsnips.
- Make a homemade pizza with lots of veggies as toppings. You can also liquidise vegetables into the pizza sauce.
- Don’t forget: You can always disguise lots of fruit and veg in a smooth soup or smoothie!