We all know that vegetables are rich in vitamins,antioxidants, fibre, and water that are vital for children to build a strongimmune system and grow up healthily. However, many parents can attest to havingto plead with their children to eat their vegetables, especially when it comesto picky eaters.
It is crucial for you not to get frustrated withyour children and give up; instead, you have to keep encouraging them todevelop healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to help you get more veggiesinto your children’s diet, and maybe even get them to love and enjoy chompingthem down!
Set a good example
Children are like sponges; they take in andcopy the behaviour and actions of those around them. Since they are easilyinfluenced, it is important to set a good example for your children to followwhen it comes to eating vegetables. Showing them how much you enjoy eatingvegetables is a great way to encourage them to follow suit.
When you sit together at the dinner table,remove distractions like the TV or digital devices, and show your children thatyou’re happy eating the nutritious food you’ve prepared. If your children seeyou and their other family members filling plates with veggies, there is ahigher chance that they will want to do the same.
At the same time, explain to them why eachvegetable is good for their health. Your children learn about food choices fromyou and their school or childcare centre so it is important for you and theireducators to be patient so that your children will not feel as if they areforced into eating something foreign to them.
Make it fun!
Contrary to general dining etiquette, when itcomes to encouraging your children to eat their veggies, you should play withyour food! Have your children cook family meals with you, especially the onesthat have vegetables in them. Studies have shown that children who are involved in the preparation of foods develop more positive attitudestowards, and preferences for, those foods.
Do not hesitate to let your children touch theveggies – perhaps washing them in the sink before you start cooking – as a wayto introduce them. You can also have them choose the vegetables for dinner whenyou do the shopping, as seeing different vegetables at the supermarket can makechildren more curious to try them.
Some schools and childcare centres role-play akitchen scenario to get children to love being involved in the kitchen.Children are encouraged to count out measurements and ingredients as a way toimprove their numeracy skills, which is just another benefit of including themin the food preparation process. They also get to touch, feel, and smell foodsas part of their sensory play. Likewise, you should mimic these steps at hometo get your children accustomed to vegetables.
Offer veggies assnacks
If you treat vegetables as a snack-time foodinstead of just a compulsory part of a meal, your children may be less hesitantto try them. As mentioned, you play a huge role in influencing their foodchoices, so you may need to be seen snacking on veggies for them to followsuit. If your children see you snacking on veggies, they will most likely wanta bite as well. While you are at it, limit unhealthy snacks in your home soyour children will be more likely to choose these veggie snacks when they arehungry.
Keep a container of chopped veggies such asmini cucumbers and carrot sticks with your children’s favourite dip in thefridge, or offer them a few fresh cherry tomatoes alongside fruits. When yourchildren are hungry, be proactive and offer them these veggie snacks. Yourchildren are more likely to eat the veggies if it is offered to them – they areunlikely to start out by requesting veggies when they are feeling peckish.However, once they get used to it, you may find a few veggie-based snackrequests headed your way!
Grow veggies together
Children will get excited to try food they haveworked hard to grow. Creating a vegetable patch is a simple and interactive wayto spark your children’s curiosity about veggies. It can also be a great way toteach them science and general knowledge. Cherry tomatoes and snow peas are agreat starting point, as they are easy to grow.
Many schools and childcare centres havevegetable gardens where they grow seasonal produce, where the children get ahands-on experience of tending to it. This encourages an understanding of wherefood comes from and makes it all the more appealing to eat. Seeing the processof growing something from scratch will have your curious children dying to trythose veggies!
If a particular veggie-based dish is notworking for your children, do not get frustrated. Instead, switch the method ofpreparation (if your children dislike stir fry veggies, offer them roastedvegetables) or presentation (try making a face using different vegetables tocreate the eyes, nose, and mouth).
Innovation is key to engaging your children’sinterest to try something new. There are so many different ways you can getyour child to reach their daily dose of vegetables, so keep trying and don’tgive up!
Nutrition at GeniusChildcare
At Genius Childcare, we are well aware of theimportance of a balanced diet and nurturing lifestyle for children of all ages.Our menus are createdand assessed through Nutrition Australia, in line with National QualityStandards and the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Each centre has its ownin-house professional chef dedicated to creating well-balanced meals that caterto a range of tastes, allergies, intolerances, and eating styles!
If you are looking for a quality childcare centre near you that can help you with your children’s eatinghabits as well as their educational journey, contact us today and book a tour of our centre to find out how we offer aninspiring learning environment for your little ones.