One of the things that parents stress out about is trying to get their children to eat the right way. Many are worried that their children don’t eat enough vegetables, and they’re probably right.
Food issues can be incredibly difficult for families, and unfortunately, can be a means for kids to exert control. The most important thing is never to create a power struggle over food.
I’ve been very lucky to have two boys who like vegetables, but at the same time, I don’t think it was simply luck. I love vegetables myself, and ate plenty of them when I was pregnant and nursing. The experts say that babies learn the taste of various foods from what their mothers eat, since the taste comes through in the milk.
If you are nursing a baby, eating a variety of healthy foods is important, not only for your own nutrition but also for theirs. And a side benefit is that they will get used to the taste of vegetables and other healthy foods, and will be more likely to eat them later on.
When my boys started eating baby food at around five months of age, they ate pureed vegetables of various types. Serving vegetables as often as possible, and trying new things, seemed to agree with them.
Now, they’re teenagers, and still eating just about any vegetable you can think of. In fact, my oldest is a vegetarian.
If you are having trouble with getting your children to eat vegetables, the first thing to do is simply relax. If you skip a meal or two without vegetables, it’s not the end of the world. If vegetables aren’t going over well that day, just serve fruit instead. Don’t get into a struggle with your child over eating veggies.
Some people think it’s appropriate to sneak vegetables into recipes so that kids will eat them. You can do this is you want to, but my feeling is that taking a more open approach is better. Instead, I would try to provide vegetables that are appealing to kids and to try different preparations to see what they like.
If they turn down cooked vegetables, serve raw ones instead, maybe served with dip. Or you can try some unusual vegetables, like artichokes or eggplant. Dare them to sample a weird-looking vegetable (this works well with boys). Try a salad – you never know. I was under the impression kids didn’t like salads, but my younger son started eating them when he was only about 6.
Take them to the grocery store with you and encourage them to pick out what they want to eat. Show them how to choose good vegetables in the produce section. Take them to farmer’s markets or roadside stands so they can see interesting or unique vegetables.
Also, you should be a role model for vegetable eating. Let them see you eat vegetables and, more importantly, enjoying them. You can tell them they’re good for you, but also emphasize how delicious they are. Kids learn what they live with.
If they still don’t want to eat vegetables, don’t give up. Make a deal that they have to try one bite of everything you serve. With enough exposure to vegetables, they’ll eventually eat what’s offered.
My oldest son swears he doesn’t like broccoli; in fact, he tends to complain about it when I serve it. But he eats it anyway. Go figure.
Source: Personal experience