My 5 year old ate a salad for the first time a few weeks ago and I almost fell over. It was one of the happiest moments of my life… okay at least in the top 50. 🙂
I’ve offered him salad hundreds of times before. I would put it on his plate… but he’d always skip it and it would sadly end up in the trash or in my husband’s belly.
I realized in this “making it available to him hundreds of time” process that by not adding onions and garlic, to his portion, was key. Also, creating a slightly sweeter citrus vinaigrette… This concoction finally convinced him he really was a salad fan!!
I make salads ALL the time, I eat them, and put them on his plate just as much. If I hadn’t tried hundreds of times before I would never have figured out what combinations of veggies and dressing would create a veggie-infused dish he would actually eat!!
Getting kids to eat their plant-based friends can be SO challenging. I mean when you put them up against tater tots, mac n’cheese, chicken nuggets, potato chips, or a grilled cheese, we all know who is going to win… and it’s not the fruits and veggies.
Now fruits tend to be easier for kids to consume, I mean they are sweet and juicy, so many mom’s don’t have problems with these plant friends, but when it comes to veggies that’s a different story… but there are many moms whose kids don’t prefer fruits either. So this post is for every mom struggling to get their kids to eat more plants. It truly is my mission to make families healthier and I truly believe this is a key step! CONSUME MORE PLANTS!!
Let’s do this!!
6 Ways to Help Your Kids Eat More Fruits and Veggies
- Start early. Start NOW!! Don’t wait any longer to help your kids develop a healthy relationship to food… especially their relationship to our plant based friends. The earlier the better. As babies beginning solids with not so sweet peas, carrots, broth, avocado, green beans, etc. helps their pallet develop and truly taste these less sweet plants and love them!(Check out this great article on healthy baby food options)
- Model it. The number 1 question I get from Mom’s is exactly what this post is about. “How can I get my kids to eat more fruits and veggies?” My number 1 answer: You eat them. First and foremost we have to truly embrace and exhibit the behavior we wish our kids to demonstrate. You eating your fruits and veggies shows them that YOU like them and YOU want to eat them. Eventually they become just like us, so you eat yours first. 🙂
- Grow it. We have basil and mint in abundance in our yard. The kids always pick a few leaves off and eat them. They love it! Growing your own food propels them into truly seeing the magic of plants first hand. They really are magical. I mean when you look at the formless intelligence it takes to create a tomato plant from one little seed, It’s AMAZING! When children are part of the planting, watering, and nurturing process they will be part of the eating process too.(Check out his article for ideas of what to plant and what’s in season!)
- Make them part of the process. Involving kids is also a great way to teach them about food and lead them into a life of creating food for themselves. Asking them what they want, looking through cookbooks and talking about new recipes is a great way to make them part of the process. Start the conversation. Make a list, go the the store or farmer’s market and let them to help pick out the ingredients and make them part of the cooking process too.(Check out this article on age appropriate kitchen tasks for kids)
- Leverage hunger. This is my secret weapon. Upon rising my kids eat a bowl of fresh or frozen fruits. Depending on what’s in season will determine what’s on the menu… but frozen mangoes and blueberries are my boys favorites. I ALWAYS offer them a bowl of fruit first thing in the morning. Fruit is digested easier when consumed on an empty stomach so this is a no-brainer for me. Also, when they get home from school I always have veggies cut up. I plop the glass Tupperware dish right in front of them without any words or looks. They are usually ravenous so they just dive in. Boom.
- Don’t give up. It can be downright frustrating to continue to offer your kids food they don’t like or even try… BUT this is part of the process. The more they are exposed to the food the more likely they will try it!Check out this excerpt (Source cited below):Several studies have demonstrated that children’s preferences for and acceptance of new foods are enhanced with repeated exposure to those foods in a non-coercive setting. New foods may need to be offered to preschool-aged children ten to sixteen times before acceptance occurs. At the same time, simply offering new foods will not necessarily produce liking; having children taste new foods is a necessary part of the process.49 Awareness of this normal course of food acceptance is important because approximately one quarter of parents with infants and toddlers prematurely drew conclusions about their child’s preference for foods after two or fewer exposures (Source)
Moral of this article? Start now, be the example you wish your children to model, grow any and all the food you can, invite them into each food creation process, feed them fruits and veggies when they are ravenous, and DON’T EVER GIVE UP!!!
Creating a healthy relationship to healthy food is part of our jobs as Mothers. We truly are setting the foundation for their health and it is a BIG responsibility! BUT luckily we have the community and support to help us along this path!
Do you have a secret weapon to feeding your kids fruits and veggies? What are some recipes that make eating these plant-based friends more fun? Please share!
Live Hippily… and eat your VEGGIES!!