In my many years as a practicing nutritionist, the one food group that parents told me that their kids struggled to enjoy is vegetables. It is really important for families to work on improving this as there are essential, protective nutrients in vegetables that our bodies need to thrive. Most of these important phytonutrients (plant nutrients) are simply not found in any other food group (not even fruit).
My kids love vegetables and I don’t believe I’m just lucky' , I persisted with teaching my kids many things over the years starting with toilet training, reading, writing and manners, I’ve used many strategies to teach them to genuinely enjoy eating a wide range of vegetables. One was to have a colour chart on the fridge that they would receive stars for eating different coloured fruits and veggies throughout the day and week, they loved this as it resulted in a reward at a certain star achievement. ( not a junk food reward) !!! A little toy or book or a trip to the movies when they were young was plenty to entice them, whatever was sensible and would motivate them. This is also great for teaching them a bit of goal setting and achieving !!!
So today I share my 5 top tips for raising veggie loving kids…
1. Educate them - Talk to your kids about vegetables. In my experience, kids are much more likely to eat something if they have an understanding of exactly what it is.
2. Let them shop - When you are shopping for veggies, get them to help. They could put five of the best looking carrots into a bag for you or choose the biggest broccoli. Another idea is to let kids pick one ‘new’ vegetable a week from the market or grocery store and prepare or cook it (and then let the kids eat what they’ve chosen).
3. Let them help prepare them - There are many vegetables kids wouldn’t consider worthy of eating until they have helped prepare them.
4. Love eating veggies yourself - Kids are much more likely to follow your example, not your advice. So you can talk until you are blue in the face about how delicious vegetables are, unless you are eating them yourself, you will never get your kids on board. Next time they reject a vegetable, don’t get upset, instead offer it to other members of the family or gobble it up yourself stating ‘you don’t know what your missing out on’. Eventually the positive role modelling will rub off.
5. Never give up - I can guarantee that persistence will pay off. I've been putting salad and veg as a priority for my 3 kids plate for about 16 years. If I didn’t persist, they would still be ‘leafy green’ fussy. When they were little If my kids didn't like a vegetable one way, I would find another way to present it. Patience, persistence and praise is my motto. I suggest starting as young as possible. My youngest is my best veggie eater as she started pretty much from birth.
This morning for breakfast my kids had a green smoothie with the following- 1. Kale 2. Avocado 3. Coconut cream 4. 1/2 lemon with the pith 5. 1 large green apple with the seeds 6. Celery 7. 1 Tablespoon - green Qi - sea veggies 8. About a litre of water
They had 500 Mls each and loved it!!!
Then I chopped up carrot so they had something to chew as well and that was breakfast !!! They are teenagers and that's their normal now. I won't say it's been easy but it's been worth it xxx
I hope this overview helps. I’d love to hear from you - I hope you can add something that works for you and your family, it took me years to perfect mine Any questions for me? Post a comment below. I also do shopping tours!!!
I'm here to help and support you and am available for Health talks, Healthy cooking classes, Nutrition consults at Higher Health or via phone , please download my free Ebook " Your guide to green smoothies for gut health" off of my Facebook signup button or my website www.higherhealth.com.au
Yours in health, Maria Lucey, Nutritionist and Health coach