Parents often tell me that their children don't eat any vegetables or will only stick to one or two that are acceptable to them - a concern that is common for many families. Making these options readily available, more exciting, and fun to eat can help. It's important not to pressure your kids to try any food, since this may backfire and result in a power struggle. And remember, the key is to remain neutral, yet consistent. Continue to serve a variety of vegetables at mealtime and don't give up. Show your enjoyment of the same foods you expect your children to eat. Modeling a healthy relationship with food is a very important factor in the development of your children's food preferences. Eat your vegetables and casually comment how fresh they taste.
The following are some tips that may help entice your children to try new vegetables:
1 - Involve your child in the entire process from A-Z (Grocery Lists, shopping, unloading groceries, washing and cutting produce, and deciding what to serve)
2 - Visit a Farmer's Market and have your child choose a new vegetable. If possible ask the farmer to talk to your child about how and where the chosen vegetable was grown. If this is not possible, bring them to a small store with predominantly produce so there are fewer distractions from unhealthier options. If this is still not an option, bring them to the produce section of the grocery store.
3 - Explain where the vegetable comes from, the variety, and even locate it on a map at home. For older kids you can compare prices of various options and brainstorm together as to why certain varieties may be more expensive than others. Explain organic options and the potential benefits.
4 - At home, have your child take the vegetable out of the bag and wash and cut it.
5 - Decide how to serve it (raw, with dip, in soup, stir fried, on pizza, etc.) and prepare it together.
6 - When your child tries the vegetable, offer a non-food related reward (ask me for ideas by leaving a comment).
7 - Celebrate success with family, friends, and teachers so that your child feels proud of his/her accomplishment.
8 - Remind your child that athletes and superheroes eat a lot of healthy foods to give them strength and energy! (Don’t forget water too!)
Offer vegetables at meal and snack time - and if they have vegetable preferences include them as well as others to try. Patience and perseverance are key!