The Battle of the Plate: Helping Our Children Eat Vegetables:
We all want our children to eat healthily and when we start to pick these battles when it comes to ensuring our children have some form of fruit or vegetables in their diet, we end up cutting certain corners. Whether this is that carton of juice or considering it a success if they’ve had one small mouthful of a vegetable, it can make us worry after a while if they’re not having any sort of goodness in their diet. So with this in mind how, can we help our children to eat healthily, especially when it comes to the dreaded vegetable?
Reduce the Overwhelming Flavor
If your children don’t like a vegetable, why is this? Really? It’s important to get to the bottom of this. When our children don’t like a vegetable, the scientific explanation is that it is bitter. Young taste buds can’t tolerate bitterness like adults do. We know the bitterness comes from the nutrients but what we can do to help our children get on board with the taste is to minimize flavors that they don’t like. Take something like oatmeal, which is a very plain flavor. But there are easy ways to make oatmeal taste good, such as by adding cacao or a sweetener like agave nectar. When we start to think about why our children don’t like vegetables, we can start to jazz it up in so many ways. Take inspiration from the Italians; they cover vegetables like eggplant in cheese and olive oil. And we can do the same thing with vegetables by covering them in butter and seasoning. Butter is something that we shouldn’t fear. And in fact, but is full of good fats which helps us to absorb nutrients better. So don’t be shy with it!
Let Your Children Pick the Vegetable
It is essential that we help demystify the process for our children. They need to know what to expect, so this means that we can help our children by getting them into a routine of sorts. If they know that every time they sit down for a meal, there’s going to be a fruit or a vegetable it will minimize the worry or anxiety that can build up to mealtimes. It can take a while to get our children into this frame of mind, but if we can help to demystify the process by helping our children pick the vegetable, this means they will have a choice in the process which of the very least means that they have control over what they eat. Another way to do this would be to grow your own produce. If your children see that you are growing vegetables and you ask them to help out in the garden and look after them, this gives them an emotional connection as well.
How Many Vegetables Do You Really Eat?
We have to ask this question. Because if you are constantly telling your child that they need to eat vegetables, it might be time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. If your child sees that you are eating the same foods as them it gives them a better incentive to try it. We can sometimes suffer from not practicing what we preach. This is why it’s important to make sure that we fix our own relationship with fruits and vegetables before we start telling our children they need to eat it as well. One simple way to do this is for everybody to have the same meal at dinner time. Unfortunately, it gets to the point where there are so many children that become so fussy that they end up having their own meal. But if you’re someone that’s not a big fan of vegetables yourself, you still need to have them on your plate. In fact, you can start to inspire your children in ways to eat vegetables despite not liking them yourself. This can be about having the additional seasoning but you can also eat the vegetables first. Because if your children see you eating your vegetables, despite you not liking them yourself, they may feel they have an ally in you.
Think About How You Reward Them
We can spend a lot of time getting our children to eat vegetables by giving them a reward. But rewarding good behavior with food can be a vicious cycle. If your children eat a fair share of vegetables because you are rewarding them with a dessert, this can have a negative impact on your child. After all, their relationship with food is a precarious one at this point. So if we start to glorify desserts and make vegetables the demon of the plate, it can have repercussions further down the line. When we reward our children for eating a vegetable, it may be worth incorporating a sticker chart which can build up to a reward over a certain amount of time. Reward systems are common for our kids, but if we continually tell them they can have dessert if they eat a vegetable, it may throw the entire thing off balance. When you think about it in terms of the health benefits of a carrot in comparison to a bar of chocolate, they might very well cancel each other out.
When it comes to helping our children eat vegetables, it can be one of those lifelong battles. But we’ve got to think about approaches to guarantee that they can have a good relationship with food. When we start to reward our children for eating a vegetable or we give in to our kids because they don’t want to eat something, it can become one of those lifelong struggles. While vegetables are certainly beneficial, we have to remember that they are only one aspect of a good diet. Our children still need to have good quality protein and healthy fats to ensure that they are healthy. And we have to remember that when we were kids, it’s unlikely we ate our vegetables. So it might not just be about the battle, but about the war.