Even if your kids enjoyed little nibbles of cooked sweet potatoes or squash when they were first trying solid foods, there will likely come a time when eating vegetables each night becomes a battle. It’s a common problem that can make dinners dreadful and become a cause for concern for parents.
“Kids should eat one to one-and-a-half cups of vegetables each day for proper nutrition, depending on their age and how active they are,” said Jinja Notargiacomo, clinical dietitian at Geisinger Health System. But this can be easier said than done.
If you’ve tried different strategies for getting your kids to eat vegetables but they aren’t working, here are some tips that can help get your kids excited about eating healthy.
Try a variety of veggies
Just because your little ones weren’t fans of cooked carrots does not mean they won’t like cucumbers, kale or eggplant. Don’t give up on vegetables after your kids try one or two. Introduce them to a variety of vegetables until you find some that your kids like.
In addition, your children’s tastes will change over time. If you tried zucchini last year and they weren’t fans, try again.
Make it fun
Kids are more likely to eat vegetables if they are arranged in an interesting way. Try cutting up vegetables and arranging them in the shape of animals or smiley faces rather than just putting some carrot sticks in a bowl.
Set a good example
Your children likely won’t ask for a side of cauliflower if you won’t eat it yourself; you’ve got to set the right example when it comes to helping your kids eat their vegetables.
“Eat vegetables in front of your kids to show them that you enjoy them and they’ll be more likely to try them on their own,” said Notargiacomo.
Offer vegetables as snacks
Your child likely needs a snack or two throughout the day. Instead of offering them cheese or yogurt, give them vegetables as a snack. Cut-up carrots, broccoli, peppers, snap peas or cherry tomatoes paired with hummus or another low-fat dip makes a tasty snack that is much healthier than potato chips or crackers.
“These smaller, bite-sized vegetables are also easier to eat and more appealing to kids,” said Notargiacomo.
Explore new recipes
While the adults in your family might be comfortable eating steamed vegetables with a touch of salt, your kids might find these foods rather bland. Try new methods of preparing vegetables that boost the flavor while keeping veggies crisp, such as roasting.
“When preparing vegetables, make sure you don’t overcook them so they’re mushy—kids want flavorful vegetables and a little bit of crunch, just like you do,” said Notargiacomo.