Vegetables seem to be an acquired taste for most of us. We go through childhood convinced that Brussels sprouts are the worst things on earth, and then one day, we see the light (cheese is usually involved in this revelation). Most of you are cleaning up your eating habits and incorporating more vegetables into your diets. However, if you have picky eaters in your house, it can be hard to stay on track, especially if you feel that you need to make different meals for everyone. Here are some tips to get you through those picky years:
1) Repetition is key. Studies show that kids may need to try a food 8-10 times to accept it. Try using a one-bite policy for foods they don’t like. They might find that they do like it, this time.
2) Mix it up. Vegetables are so versatile. They can be roasted, sautéed, steamed, mashed, seasoned in a number of ways, or enjoyed raw. Present vegetables differently to your kids each time. Steamed broccoli may not do the trick, but roasted might! Also, boiled vegetables lose their nutrients to the cooking water, so it’s best to avoid that method of preparation.
3) Set a good example. If your kids see you enjoying a food, they will likely also want to eat it.
4) Get creative! If your kid wants to be big and strong like a dinosaur, they need to eat their trees (broccoli and cauliflower). If they want to have superhero vision, they better eat their carrots!
5) The ultimate goal is to have your kid come to like vegetables, as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, if you aren’t quite there, yet, try hiding vegetables in some of their favorite foods. Add pumpkin or squash puree to mac and cheese. Add a handful of spinach to their banana berry smoothie. Add cauliflower to mashed potatoes. Every bit counts!
(I can’t take credit for any of these photos or ideas. These are from various locations on the internet. Thanks to client, and Dietitian-in-training, Amber James for helping me with this article!!)