Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables: 8 Secrets for Parents
Getting kids to eat vegetables can be tricky. It can make cooking difficult and mealtimes stressful. And, it can be detrimental to your children’s growth if they don’t eat a variety of colorful produce. If you’re looking for new ways to get your kids to eat their vegetables, check out these eight secrets to make veggies fun!
1. Let Your Child Choose
One of the easiest ways to get your children to eat new foods is to get them more involved in the process. Bring them grocery shopping and let them pick out one new vegetable to try that week, as well as one new treat to try.
By letting your children choose the vegetables they try, they will feel like they have more control over the situation, and that little extra bit of control and curiosity can make a big difference when the food hits their plates.
2. Make Veggies Fun
Getting kids to eat vegetables is no easy task – but getting a little creative can help your children be more excited about veggies. Try using cookie cutters or even a paring knife to cut vegetable snacks for kids into fun shapes like hearts, stars, or zig zags. If you’re really feeling creative, use a bunch of vegetables to make a face or character that your children will love.
While it may take a few extra minutes, making vegetables for kids look more fun can save you lots of stress later on and prevent you from having to make a different veggie-free meal just for your child.
3. Change Up Your Cooking Method
If you’re struggling with getting your kids to eat vegetables, try a new way of cooking them. Boiled or steamed vegetables can be bland, but roasted veggies might leave your kids begging for more. You can also experiment to see if your children prefer their vegetables crunchy and raw instead of cooked, as many children do.
Kids can be very particular about the texture of their food, so if they are refusing to eat a vegetable, try changing it up. You might be surprised by the vegetables kids will eat once you find a cooking method they like.
4. Offer a Dip
When’s the last time you ate plain, raw broccoli, carrots, or celery? Most parents don’t even love these snacks plain, but serve them to their kids all the time.
While veggies may be healthier on their own, offering veggies with a little dip or sauce can totally change your kids’ attitude toward trying them. For a healthy option, choose a Greek yogurt or avocado-based dip that will offer extra protein and fat to keep your children fuller longer.
5. Focus on Essential Nutrition
Chances are, you won’t be able to get your child to eat every veggie you serve. If you’re struggling with getting your kids to eat vegetables, focus on just a few key vegetables to make sure they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow. While nearly all vegetables offer health benefits, here are a few key veggies to focus on when all else fails:
- Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins C and B6, which are keys to immune health and brain development
- Carrots contain lots of vitamin A, which helps develop good vision
- Broccoli contains calcium for bone growth, as well as a slew of other vitamins and minerals
- Peas are full of vitamins C and K (as well as fiber), which support brain, bone, and gut health
If your children aren’t fans of these vegetables, don’t worry. There are plenty of other vegetables (and fruits) that can provide the vitamins and nutrients that children need to grow. Many doctors recommend “eating a rainbow” of foods to get the full spectrum of nutrients that produce can offer.
6. Add Veggies to an Old Favorite
If your child gets anxious or upset over trying new foods, consider adding vegetables to an old favorite. If they love hamburgers, serve them with lettuce and tomato. If they’re a pizza fanatic, chop up a few different vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli and let them create their own colorful pizza.
Sometimes half of the struggle with how to get kids to eat vegetables is the fear of trying something new. By adding veggies to something your child already knows and loves, you can make them a little less scary.
7. Sneak Veggies Into Other Recipes
If you simply can’t get your kids to eat vegetables willingly, it might be time to start sneaking them into other recipes. Baked goods are a sweet and easy way to sneak in a few added vegetables, like shredded zucchini or carrots.
Smoothies are another great way to make veggies taste sweet so that kids will try them. Blended up, your kids will barely even know that there is spinach or kale included. Just make sure to balance out the greens with something sweet, like banana or berries.
Soups, stews, and casseroles can also hide vegetables easily to get your children to try them. Corn, carrots, peas, peppers, and broccoli can all be finely chopped and added for a boost of nutrients that kids won’t even notice.
8. Don’t Overthink It
At the end of the day, don’t overthink it. If you make vegetables a big deal, so will your children. Not every day will be perfect, but as long as you keep trying and your kids get a few servings of veggies in, you’ll be well on your way toward a growing, healthy child.
Interested in teaching your kids more about the importance of eating vegetables? Learn more about produce offerings from locally-grown organic vegetables to our Signature fresh-cut produce from Stauffers of Kissel Hill.