Did you know that only 5% of children get enough veggies daily, whereas 71% consume sufficient amounts of fruit?
Most parents know that fruits and vegetables are essential for growing bodies, yet encouraging your child to eat their greens may be tricky.
Whether your child picks out even the tiniest fragments of carrot or spinach from their meals or refuses to consume anything green in colour, children have a reputation for turning their nose up at vegetables.
Why do kids dislike veggies?
Most children don’t like veggies for one simple reason – taste. Veggies can be bitter, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. This bitter flavour results from the calcium content and the presence of beneficial chemicals such as phenols, flavonoids, isoflavones, terpenes, and glucosinolates.
How many servings of veggies should my child consume daily?
Depending on their age, children should have at least two to three cups of veggies a day.
Why are vegetables so important for children?
Vegetables have several health benefits for children. Numerous minerals and vitamins, such as B-carotene for normal eyesight, vitamin C for a strong immune system, and folic acid for healthy growth and development, are provided by veggies.
They are also an excellent source of fibre, which helps maintain regular bowel movements and reduces the risk of heart disease, some malignancies, and diabetes.
How can I encourage my child to eat more veggies?
Below are some suggestions for incorporating more veggies into your child’s daily diet.
Eat the spectrum
Did you know that vegetables of different colours contain different nutrients? This is one reason why consuming various vegetables every day is crucial.
A fun method to encourage children to consume more veggies is to emphasise colour. Teach your child the advantages of different coloured fresh foods using colouring pages, or have them build a ‘eat a rainbow’ colour chart to keep track of the vegetables they’ve consumed each week.
One of the benefits of gardening is that it may encourage children to try new foods they’ve grown while teaching them about seasonality and food production. Gardening may also be an excellent form of exercise and can boost mental health, making it an all-around healthy hobby!
Whether you have a vegetable garden that your child can help with or just a few pots on the balcony, try gardening to see if it inspires your child to try new foods.
If you cannot cultivate at home, consider taking your child to a nearby community garden or an open-to-the-public farm, where they may learn more about how food is grown, potentially select some vegetables, and become enthusiastic about eating fresh produce.
Don’t force your child to eat veggies they don’t like
There are several reasons why children may not want to eat particular vegetables, including taste, texture, and appearance.
It might be upsetting when your child refuses to eat a particular vegetable, but pushing them to do so seldom helps them overcome their aversion and can potentially exacerbate the problem.
Instead, try the following strategies to encourage fussy eaters to try new vegetables:
- Place a communal dish of cooked vegetables on the table so your child can serve themselves.
- Encourage your child to become acquainted with a new vegetable by examining its appearance, smell, and texture. Inform them that they can test it by taking a bite, but they are not required to swallow it.
- Spent time in the kitchen: Teaching your children to cook by allowing them to assist with age-appropriate kitchen tasks will help them develop a taste for a variety of foods and good eating habits.
- Hide veggies: Some families swear by shredding or chopping veggies into little bits and preparing them into a dish their child likes. For example, grated carrot, celery, and zucchini may be added to Spaghetti Bolognese so children won’t even notice.
- Get creative: Try cutting veggies into fascinating shapes, or encourage your child to create a picture or tale out of vegetables as they arrange them on their plate.
- Create a menu plan: Plan meals for the week, designate who will prepare what, and ensure that each day’s meals contain an adequate amount of vegetables.
- Set a good example: Children who grow up in houses where nutritious meals are readily available, and an active lifestyle is the norm are more likely to make healthy decisions as adults.