Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Get Kids to Eat Green Vegetables [Guest Post]

How to Get Kids to Eat Veggies

When I was little, I refused to eat green food. It didn't matter if it was asparagus or a green M&M...it was NOT going in my mouth no matter what the consequences.

Now I am blessed with a munchkin that will not eat crunchy or cold food...of any kind. This isn't too bad and I just make sure the veggies are served cooked and warm.

Why do some kids hate veggies?

It could be worse; there are lots of different reasons for kids to refuse their vegetables, and other kinds of foods (like my gotta-be-squishy eater).

Texture: My child isn't alone in her distaste of anything that makes noise when she chews it, this is common, as is the opposite...children who won't eat squishy, mushy, or sticky food. Texture is actually a big reason for kids to refuse what's for dinner. I can't blame them and I don't eat cooked onions for the same reason! They're just slimy!

Smell, taste, and color: You can't change these things about most vegetables (although I did once manage pink cauliflower once with some red food coloring), but you can add them to things the kids already like. Pizza and pasta are great places to "hide" veggies! Yogurt is also a good fruit combo.

How can I get them to enjoy their vegetables?

There are a few tricks you can use to make veggies less troublesome...

Add them to old favorites: Cut-up veggies can be disguised in pasta or casseroles. Maybe it's not ideal to hide them from your kids, but you can make them less prominent on their plate. Your little ones might even deal well with a choice..."would you like carrots or peas in the casserole tonight?"

Let them help: Picking out fruits and vegetables when your shopping is something the kids could help with, as well as washing and peeling, and slicing and dicing (older kids). This might make them more interesting to your picky eaters.

Change it up: Instead of just piling veggies on the plate, try grating carrots on top of pasta salads, or adding chopped tomatoes to burgers instead of slices. Anything different might make vegetables more fun. If all else fails, make broccoli landscapes and funny faces out of carrot slices.

Don't make it a fight: If you make your child eat every vegetable that crosses her plate, she will grow up despising them. Let some things go, and offer alternatives. Not every kid likes every veggie...carrots instead of corn is not a bad thing to have to accept.

Make them available: Instead of a cookie jar, have a veggie bowl in the fridge...maybe with little cups of ranch or another vegetable dip. When you're cooking, cut up the veggies first and let your little one "graze". Hide the junk food in a place where it's less convenient for your child to grab.

Keep trying: Even if your little one didn't like carrots last week, that doesn't mean she won't eat them this week. Kids change their tastes often, and you can take advantage of these swings to try out things that were shelved once. Sometimes it takes a few tries.

Invite adventurous friends to dinner: If your child has a friend that will eat anything, by all means let that child be an example. Kids might try something new if a friend tries it first.

Eat your own veggies: Why would your kiddo eat green food if you won't touch it? Try to set a great example, and recruit grandparents and other adult relatives to do the same. Sometimes that's all it takes!

Amy Brown, a stay-at-home mom, is an editor of Livesnet, a site offering baby gear reviews and parenting tips. She's surely willing to share her own experience and tips.

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