During a recent interview with a major magazine I was asked about my thoughts on how to get kids to eat more vegetables. Using my kids as examples, I shared my opinion on what works in our family and I thought I would share them with you, too.
Change it up.
The rule in our home when it comes to school lunches is that any uneaten food must return home. This way I can mentally take notes on what my kids are eating and not eating. I noticed a pattern emerged with Abbi. Every time I packed carrot sticks, she brought them back home. As it would turn out, she shared that she didn’t like the texture of big chunks of carrot in her mouth. The next day I decided to slice them very thinly like coins. I packed them in her lunch box and when she came home later in the day her lunch bag was empty. When I asked her about the carrots she told me how she really liked the way I cut them. By changing the way I cut them she was more open to eating them and loves them now.
I’m a firm believer of grouping different foods together with familiar favorites I know my kids will love. I’m convinced this approach takes the intimidation out of trying new foods. This strategy particularly works well in soups and sandwiches. What I tell my kids when serving them new foods this way is that picking out certain foods from their bowls is not an option. By slightly adding foods to a familiar taste the change can be minimized and kids may discover they actually like vegetables they had convinced themselves they didn’t. Many times my kids have been won over to new foods this way.
I would never recommend parents sneak vegetables in certain foods for the sake of sneaking vegetables into their child’s diet. However, there are certain dishes that sneaking vegetables does make sense. For instance, adding a little bit of spinach puree to just about anything from smoothies to spaghetti sauce is a great way to add vitamins to your child’s diet. Spinach is great because it is easily masked by other foods and “dissolves” easily into other foods. Kale and romaine lettuce are also great leafy greens which can easily be blended or pureed.
Although the battle between parents and their children when it comes to picky eating can become exhausting and tiresome, if you keep introducing them to your kids, you might be rewarded with a vegetable lover instead of hater.