How to get your kids to try more veggies
I have worked with families and children for the past 15 years. The number 1 question I get is how to get kids to consume more produce. Fruit and Vegetables are key in your children’s diet. Children need a minimum of 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily. Sadly, most children in the United States are not meeting that recommendation.
I get it! Somedays, it is a battle at my house too to get my boys to eat their vegetables. They definitely reach for the carb and protein before going for the vegetables, but they always end up eating those vegetables.
How did I get them to do this? It’s not always easy and sometimes you have to pick your battles, for me nutrition is a battle I will fight, having a paci till 4 or throwing balls in the house are not really battles I fight. As parents we all have our battles so if nutrition hasn’t been a battle that you have been choosing, then give yourself and your kids some grace and know that it’s okay for this process to move slower than you would like. And know that my kids are far from perfect and there are days where they don’t get in their vegetables, but I am going to share with you my three top tips to help your kids chose more veggies.
- Courtesy bite or taste bite: We have been doing this since the boys were tiny. They are required to take a taste bite or a courtesy bite of every vegetable every night. The reasoning behind this is that kid’s taste buds are constantly changing. In fact it takes a child 24 exposures (taste bites) of a certain vegetable for them to realize if they truly like it. So when our youngest tries a vegetable he might not care for, I beat on the table and do a big cheer! Guess what happens next? He eats more! For the big boys, I tell them that it took time and money to prepare this meal so the least they can do is take a courtesy bite. This also works like a charm and also creates manners for when they are in a situation where the food prepared is not exactly something that they love.
- Education: This is a big one; I am constantly talking to my boys about the whys. I just don’t shout at them to eat their veggies but I explain to them what will happen in their bodies when they do. I make is pretty simple, but I always chat with them briefly about what that specific veggies does for their body. So I turn it into a game, I quickly google a couple facts about that veggie that we are eating that night and so it helps with dinner conversation as well. This is certainly not every night, but I try to do this a few times a week.
- Role Model: This is by far the biggest habit that you can do for your kids to help them consume more veggies. If you are eating vegetables and they are seeing you eat those healthy foods day in and day out, they will think that it is just the norm. They also are seeing you make healthy choices for yourself and therefore will think it is important to make healthy choices for themselves. If you are constantly saying how much you dislike veggies they will do the same. It is all about presentation my friends!
I hope some of these suggestions help you. Remember perfection is overrated and just keep on offering vegetables and fruits to your children. My greatest advice on nutrition with children is to not give up and know that everyone struggles with this with their children, including me!