It’s time we stopped the war on broccoli. Let’s leave behind all those fights over eating all the greens. Let’s try to make our kids love veggies as much as we do.
But… do we really like veggies, though??
If we, responsible grown-ups, were offered a hamburger or a salad, and eating fat or red meat had no health or environmental implications whatsoever, most of us would totally pick the hamburger. So it’s not like liking veggies comes naturally to us –at least not nowadays –, it’s something that we learn to do. A process.
This doesn’t mean no one likes veggies, personally, I would be able to live on vegetables, and my favourite dish as a kid was creamed spinach; but this is certainly not common. Proof of this is the fact that most child-friendly foods are super high on sugar, salt or fat (pizza, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, super sugary yogurts and juices…). Awful.
In fact, if you think of it, kids don’t just dislike veggies, they seem to have a problem with fresh flavours in general. So… let’s see what we can do to help them eat veggies and change their eating habits in general.
Ways to make your kid like veggies (without drama)
1. Play with food
Yeeees, we knooooow, playing with food is baaaaaad. Well, it’s not bad if you make up the game and are the rule-master, is it??
So, what’s this game about? A veggie tasting! Ask your kid to close their eyes and give him different varieties of some veggies and fruits. Ask them to tell you what they taste like, what their texture feels like, which one they liked better… like a test with no wrong answers! This way, your kid will focus on textures and flavours instead of on whether what they see on the plate is appealing or not.
2. Lie. Lie blatantly
Seems like this tip can be applied to everything –or at least to how make kids go to bed –, and it sounds kind of awful, so let us explain ourselves with a couple of nice examples:
- Kids don’t like greens, but they do like pasta, right? What if we fool them into eating greens while they think they are eating pasta? Yes, you got it: zucchini noodles (you can check some nice recipes here).
- Kids love fries, why not chop some carrots and roast them? Carrot fries are delicious!
3. Give in (just a bit)
Kids specially like sugar. Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on their fruit or in their juices and smoothies to make them more easily. They will grow out of this extra sweetness at some point; and, in the meantime, you will get them to eat veggies.
4. Let them be chefs
You know how much kids love feeling in charge, if you let them help you cook, they will definitely eat the resulting dish –and praise it like it has been cooked by a Michelin star chef –.
5. Awesome sauce
Hummus, tzatziki, guacamole… accompany your veggies with some !!healthy!! dip and your kids won’t make such a big fuss about eating greens.
6. Set an example
You want your kid to eat veggies because they are healthy and necessary, right? Then your kid should see you, responsible adults, also eat and enjoy greens. If they see us having erratic habits, they will just think that’s the normal attitude towards food, so let’s fix that by being a proper role model.
That includes not buying junk food. If they feel hungry but there are no crisps around, they will end up eating that shiny apple you left for them in the kitchen. Clever, right??
7. Be creative
We’ve all decorated pancakes with chocolate syrup, kids love it. Why not do the same with veggies? A pea smile, a landscape of broccoli… options are endless (and Pinterest is a great source of ideas!).
8. Reward them when they try something new
It’s hard for them to give in and take a bite of something. If you reward them for doing it, their picky eating habits will slowly disappear. And by rewarding them, we mean something like praising their positive attitude towards fresh and healthy food in front of friends and family. It will make them proud and will encourage them to keep it up!
9. Be patient and stick to your methods and rules
Kids can be stubborn, so don’t give up. The habits they develop now will remain with them into their adult life. You need to be patient and stand your ground (without being too forceful) and they will end up adapting to this healthy lifestyle. Just follow these tips and you will see results very soon!