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You give a bowl of broccoli or carrots to your kiddo to munch and your kid may take forever to finish it. Does this sound like it is a story of your household? you’re likely not alone – this is a struggle that most moms may be experiencing in their day to day lives. Why is there an aversion for vegetables in some kids and what can you do to make your kid eat his greens? If this is what you have on your mind, we may help you overcome this constant struggle to feed veggies to your child. Read this post for more!
Why is it Important for Children to Eat Vegetables?
With so many options available in the market for junk foods, children seldom pay heed when it comes to eating a nutritious meal that contains vegetables. There is no substitute for vegetables and thus no matter how much your child despises; you may have to find ways and means to feed them to your kid. This is because vegetables are high in essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and anti-oxidants, which are of utmost importance for the proper functioning of various vital organs. Eating veggies may help your kid against many dangerous health ailments too. A well-balanced and healthy diet should include a wide array of vegetables apart from other things, which means your child should eat various kinds and colours of vegetables to attain maximum nutritional benefits. On an average, your child (up to eight years of age) may require up to 2 to 4 servings of vegetables in a day.
Why Some Children Don’t Like to Eat Vegetables
You may think that your kid may be the only one making faces at the sheer sight of vegetables. You may be surprised to know that it is very common for children to dislike vegetables. Let us help you solve this mystery, read below to know why your kid dislikes eating vegetables:
- We can blame the human evolution for this, strange isn’t it, but it is not. It is believed that human being has evolved to like and prefer sweet-tasting things rather than sour or bitter tasting things.
- Your child may cringe while eating Brussels sprouts or other such vegetables because of their peculiar or bitter taste. The presence of calcium and phytonutrients in most vegetables make them bitter and thus unpalatable for children.
- Disliking for vegetable may mostly be seen in kids in the age bracket of 2 to 6 years of age. This is because they may develop food neophobia or fear of unknown or new food. This is usually a behavioural problem that kids of this age may experience.
- Also, whenever we eat something for the first time, we may not like it and may start liking it after repeated exposure. The same may apply to the kids and as they grow they may start liking their vegetables. It may take 10 to 15 efforts on an average for you to finally make your child accept the taste of a particular vegetable.
How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables
Here are tips that may help you make your kid polish off veggies from his plate:
1. Lead By Example
As boring and as clichéd as it may sound but it sure does work. If you snack and eat vegetables for your meals, your kid may do that too. Kids are like monkeys, well, not literally but they like to imitate their parents and siblings.
2. Give Them Time
Do not expect your kid to eat any vegetable that you may offer for the first time. As discussed in the above-section, kids may take time to familiarise and once they may be comfortable with the taste, they may begin eating that veggie.
3. Don’t Create a Hullabaloo
Whenever it comes to feeding vegetables, do not make it appear like something grand is going to take place. Make it a regular eating experience and do not threat, bribe or do any such thing to make your kid finish his veggies.
4. Add the Touch of Beauty
Whatever appeals to the eye may appeal to the palate too. This means if you present the vegetables in a boring or drab manner, your kid may not be interested at all. However, if you present the vegetables in an appealing manner, it may grab your kid’s attention for sure. Carve roses out of a carrot or make a mouse from a cucumber and watch your kiddo hog.
5. Give Them Options
This sneak trick may work for sure. Whenever you cook vegetables, try and cook two or more options for your kiddo to choose from. This may give your kid the feeling of independence and he may feel free to choose. Don’t be surprised if he chooses one or more.
6. Use Peer Pressure
Well, peer pressure may not only work in the field of academics but it may also be helpful in making your kiddo eat veggies. Invite friends over for dinner (who like to eat vegetables) and just see how in order to impress his friends or to gain brownie points in front of you, your kid may finish all his veggies.
7. Spice It Up
Kids love to experiment with various tastes and flavours, add some punch and zing to their boring vegetables by adding some dressing, seasonings or dips.
8. Let Them Pick Vegetables
If you are fortunate enough to have a kitchen garden of your own then you may allow your kiddo to pick vegetables. On the other, you may take him to the supermarket with you and let him pick vegetables from the selves. Freshly grown or nicely arranged fresh vegetables are a visual delight and may lure your kid in eating them too.
9. Let Them Starve!
That sounds extreme, but sometimes you have to be strict with your child! If your kid refuses to eat his veggies, do not give him anything else. Whenever he asks for food, give him veggies only. Believe us, when hunger strikes, even a bowl of broccoli tastes like heaven!
10. Let Them Cook
Cooking may excite young children and if you involve them in cooking their vegetables they may be tempted to try out their creation. The entire cooking and eating experience may become one fun experience for your kid.
11. Praise Your Kid
If your kid makes efforts and tries to eat a particular vegetable, make sure you appreciate his efforts. Words of appreciation may pep up your child to try out different vegetables.
12. Experiment With Vegetables
If your kid does not like stir-fried carrots, you may give him the carrots in the form of a soup. In a similar manner, you may change the form of other vegetables too. Sometimes it may be the textures of a particular vegetable may make your child refuse to eat vegetables.
What Parents Should Avoid Doing While Making Their Kids Eat the Veggies
Firstly, we discussed the things for that may be helpful in encouraging a child to eat vegetables and now we shall talk about few things that you may like to avoid to make your kid eat his vegetables or things that you should refrain from doing for getting a toddler to eat vegetables:
1. Do Not Force Feed
You can be insistent but you should not force. Any kind of force-feeding may leave a negative impact on your child and do not be surprised if he may completely refuse to eat his veggies. Let your kid adjust to the new taste and he may eventually start liking the taste.
2. Do Not Give Anything Outside Meals
Refrain from offering anything else in between the meals because a hunger pangs may make your kid relish the veggies.
3. Do Not Prepare Special Meals
Offer your kid what everyone else will be eating. This way you may be snubbing the habit of picky-eating.
4. Do Not Label Your Kid
Refrain from giving any label, tags or names such as fussy-eater, picky-eater etc to your kid. This may give them a reason to stay away from vegetables.
5. Do Not Bribe
Bribing by giving them a candy stick or letting them play a video game may solve the problem in the short run but it may lead to negative association towards food in the longer run.
6. Do Not Sneak the Vegetables in Food
This way you may win a small war but not the big bigger battle of helping your kid develop a healthy habit of eating vegetables.
Hope this post may help in overcoming your vegetable-feeding woes.