We know the importance of a proper diet, and why kids need the vitamins and nutrients to grow, play, and learn. Unfortunately, our kids don’t care. ‘I hate spinach!’ ‘I don’t like this food. Yuck!’ Or they just simply cry, or sit there at the table without touching anything, until you end up shouting in frustration.
Here are some parenting tips on how to end the meal battles and get kids to eat vegetables. Like all of o5.com’s recipes for life, these tips are tested and practical.
Parenting tip # 1: Don’t turn it into a battle of wills
Fighting with kids about food will only make them want to rebel even more. It’s best to stay calm but firm—and the only way to do that is to take the right perspective. Don’t panic if your kids go through a food jag and won’t eat anything but fried chicken or boiled egg for weeks. It’s also common for toddlers to become picky eaters and many of them outgrow it on their own. Besides, you’re building a lifelong habit, and that takes time. Be patient with yourself and your child.
Parenting tip # 2: Make Fruits your ‘Plan B’
You should always offer vegetables, but if he constantly refuses, then sneak in the nutrients by offering fruits for dessert or snacks. Nutritionists agree that with less fuss, chances are great that a child’s appetite will eventually head around to eating vegetables.
Parenting tip # 3: Train the tastebuds
Instead of forcing rules, develop their taste buds. Ban salted chips, candies and cookies, which are so heavily seasoned that nourishing, home-cooked food taste ‘bland’ in comparison.
Parenting tip # 4: Don’t reward or punish kids for food
No praising whenever he swallows a spoonful of veggies; no bribe either, if he eats up all his greens; no threats, likewise, if refuses to eat. Just cheerfully remove the dish after 30 minutes, no matter how much or how little he has eaten. Eventually your child will realize that mealtimes can’t be used to get attention or manipulate you into giving treats. And because you don’t make a big deal about the vegetables, he won’t have any negative assocations with it. and will end up trying the vegetables in his own time.
Parenting tip # 5: Don’t discriminate over types of food
Offer him a balanced meal of protein (meat, fish, chicken, veggies and fruit) on a plate and let him eat what he wants at his own pace. If he refuses to eat the veggies, don’t force or cajole him, as in ‘They’re good for you’ This decreases his chances of developing a dislike for, or a bias against vegetables. However, you have done your part by making everything on his plate healthy. He may have refused the broccoli, but he gets lots of nutrients from the steamed fish.
Parenting tip # 6: Soften the taste
Remove the strong taste of some vegetables by changing the cooking water twice. Although this could destroy some nutrients, at least, it would help get the little tyke to like his vegetables. Examples of strong-flavored vegetables are broccoli and cabbage.
Parenting tip # 7: Serve vegetables in appetizing, attractive ways
Take it from chefs who believe that you eat first with your eyes. Even adults would turn away from the sight of a blob of green mush. It may have been easier to feed him pureed carrots, spinach, celery or lettuce when he was a baby. But as he becomes more aware of food aesthetics, make eating vegetables more creative and playful.
Fun ways to serve vegetables
Here are some parenting tips from moms who somehow got their kids to love vegetables.
• If your toddler doesn’t like cooked vegetables, try serving them raw as veggie sticks, which he can dip into yoghurt or cottage cheese. You can also drizzle with orange juice or sweetened lemon juice. He may also like vegetable tempura Make a large enough serving for everyone, so even adults join in and he feels grown-up. Another parenting tip: to help your toddler’s digestion, cut the vegetables (shred carrots, chop celery) and remove fibrous parts, skin and seeds. Thoroughly wash and scrub everything before serving.
• Make a vegetable soup or stew that’s tasty and easy for him to chew. Some of the nutrients go into the broth, too, so if your child won’t eat the actual vegetables pour some of the broth on the rice.
• Puree some of the vegetables to thicken the sauce or soup. Kids can’t complain about what they can’t see.
Photo from parenting-skill-info.com