Getting our kids to eat healthily can be a struggle, but there are two things many of us are doing wrong when it comes to encouraging nutrition. Firstly, some of us are forcing our kids to eat vegetables, and secondly, some of us are resorting to hiding veggies in amongst other foods. While these may yield short-term results, they’re not great techniques in the long term. If you’re struggling to get your kids to eat anything other than fries and candy, we’ve got some excellent parenting tips for broadening the palate.
My Kids are Fussy Eaters
You may think that your kids are testing your patience when they outright refuse to eat their vegetables, but cut them some slack – it could be that your kids really don’t like ‘natural’ ingredients. Children’s’ immune systems are not are mature as ours, meaning they can become sick much more easily. As natural foods such as vegetables could contain toxins that are potentially harmful to children, some scientists believe that a child’s body is programmed to reject such ingredients. Fortunately, our methods of farming, harvesting, and storage are much better today, so there is rarely an issue with becoming ill, but the body hasn’t evolved to accommodate these new techniques.
The difference, of course, is fruits. Fruits are also natural ingredients, yet many kids scoff down fruit as though there’s an apple shortage. Why? Unlike many vegetables, fruits are very high in natural sugars, which makes them taste delicious. By offering a range of sweeter vegetables, you can start your kids off on a healthy path. Here are some delicious foods to try:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sugar Snap Peas
If your kids are still having a tough time eating these sweet vegetables, you may wish to roast them with a little unrefined sugar – a tablespoon of honey or a sprinkling of date sugar added before roasting, for example, can just help draw out the natural sweet flavors of the veg.
Don’t Hide the Veg!
If your kids don’t like vegetables, it is so tempting to puree them and mix them in with potatoes, pasta sauce, or any other kids’ favorites. While this is good for a quick fix, it’s not doing our kids any favors in the long term. In hiding vegetables, we’re confirming what our kids have always suspected – that veggies are bad! Once they are old enough to make their own decisions, they’ll steer clear of vegetables because they’ve been taught they’re something to fear. Make veg a prominent feature of your meals! The trick is to cook them in interesting ways, appealing to your kids’ palates. Here are some ideas:
- Roast broccoli with a drizzle of lemon juice and a few garlic cloves for extra flavor
- Pour a little maple syrup and add a sprinkle of fresh dill to cooked carrots
- Bake asparagus with a little balsamic vinegar for added zing
- Mix a handful of breadcrumbs with some pureed squash, and grill in patty shapes
Getting your kids to eat a healthier diet isn’t difficult when you know how, although making changes isn’t always an easy process. If your kids refuse these new dishes initially, keep trying. Allegedly, children need to be introduced to new foods a number of times before feeling comfortable enough to try them.