Is your child a picky eater who only wants cereal, white bread or noodles? Do you find yourself pleading to “just try a little” when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
When it comes to getting children to eat healthy things, you have a lot of factors working against you. Research has shown that children need to be exposed to a food 8-10 times before accepting it, which explains why they tend to refuse fruits and vegetables they aren’t used to. You also can’t control their taste buds. People are born preferring sweeter tasting things, so it takes some effort to learn to like everything else!
Try a few of the tips below to get the little ones in your life to eat more fruits and vegetables!
Set an example – The first predictor of a child’s eating habits are the habits of their parents. If fruits and vegetables are always your second choice, you can’t expect your children to be eager to eat them, either. Also keep in mind that if you are constantly dieting or have erratic eating habits, your children will pick up on this and grow up thinking this behavior is normal.
Get them involved – Children are more interested in a meal that they help prepare, so be sure to get them involved! Take them to the grocery store with you and let them pick out a new vegetable or fruit to try, or even start a garden. Creating your own garden has multiple benefits, such as giving you more time with your children and helping them learn about healthy options to enjoy as part of their meals.
Turn fruits and veggies into treats – What kid doesn’t love a treat? For example, try freezing bananas in plastic sealable bags, then blend them with other fruits or cacao powder to create healthy “ice cream.” You could also try freezing grapes and then blending them together with other fruits, veggies or juices of your children’s choosing for a fun slushie snack!
Make produce part of the main meal – If your child loves spaghetti and meatballs, mix some mushrooms or real tomatoes into the sauce. If they enjoy macaroni and cheese, add in some steamed broccoli or butternut squash. You could even try offering to add a veggie topping of their choice to a pizza you are making at home.
Make food fun – Wasn’t it more fun as a kid to eat “ants on a log” (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins on top) instead of all the ingredients separately? Kids love fun and make-believe! Your child may not want to eat his broccoli, but being a dinosaur that needs to eat “mini trees” will probably be a lot more appealing.
Try a new recipe!
These tasty recipes will get your child eating more vegetables without even knowing it:
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Coaching program, call your coach for more tips and recipes to help you and your family eat better!