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We all know we need fruits and veggies, but even as a fruit and veggie lover, I find myself struggling to get my daily share. Imagine being a really picky kid and it becomes even worse! Imagine having three kids and a husband that are picky eaters (yes, that’s my life). Even if I serve a rainbow of veggies, there are still issues. My daughter (who’s now a pescatarian) doesn’t like certain veggies, my youngest child who has to approve every single thing on his plate (and he will freak if he sees any onions near his food) and my oldest child has Type 1 Diabetes. My oldest child was my original picky eater but started changing as he got older. Now with his Type 1 Diabetes, he can eat anything he wants as long as we know the carbohydrate count for it and I’m trying to make sure he eats as many healthy foods as possible. He’s the healthiest eater in our house, but I still have to bargain to get him to eat all his vegetables! My husband has Celiac and my little one – he’s just so super picky now. It’s maddening! So what can you do to get your kids to stop being so picky with veggie eating? Here are 10 simple tips to get your kids to eat their veggies.
1. Get kids involved with your family’s meals. Either plan out meals for the family or take them shopping with you. I took my younger kids food shopping and we decided to make salmon and veggies skewers for our dinner. You can also open the grocery app or website you use and have them help you plan. They need to know that a meal includes planning a main, a veggie, and some kind of a whole grain.
2. Kids can do meal prep.
Even smaller kids can washing veggies and do simple meal prep. My 10 -year-old loves washing veggies for our dinner. I’m teaching my daughter to cut veggies (with my supervision). She’s even helping with mean planning and the meal prep when I need her to. I just bought this cutting board set and think you may like it too – https://amzn.to/3oBg23B
3. Teach cooking skills.
Show them how to break lettuce up or how to make a simple salad dressing. Plus, it helps with bonding.
4. Make salads as a side dish or as a starter nightly! Salads can be a lot of fun. Throw in veggies that they like and add some other veggies that they may have declined to try before. It can even be a simple salad with romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. I usually grab one of my biggest metal mixing bowls and throw everything in it. I like these on Amazon (they have lids).
Or you can go really crazy and throw in practically everything in your fridge. I took my simple salad and the next night I added strawberries and sliced almonds. My family absolutely loved this.
Add a low-fat dressing or a choice of dressings to give them even more control over their salad. My kids tend to go towards ranch and caesar dressings, while I love a balsamic vinaigrette. You can even make a quick dressing from scratch.
5. Let kids set the table and hand out beverages. They can put out utensils and fill shallow water glasses. They can also put dishes of veggies on the table – hey, it may help to spark interest!
6. Set out raw veggies as snacks while kids are hungrier. I do this often – I’ll set out carrots and hummus or cucumbers with ranch dip while I’m making dinner. If kids are starving, this gets them to snack on veggies. Even if your kids are helping you make dinner, while the food is cooking, they can hang out at the table and snack on veggies. Sometimes I even ask my kids to do this. I sometimes serve the veggies on a big platter or a cutting board with these little pyrex bowls for hummus or ranch dressing.
7. Encourage kids to try new meals. Even if they take one bite, experts say that it takes kids up to 10 times before they like a new food. I try to make a lot of soups, because they contain tons of veggies and kids won’t realize it. My family’s chicken soup recipe is great for that.
8. Model good eating behaviors. Pile your plate high with veggies and dig in.
9. Is there a non-negotiable veggie? I try not to have many “rules”, but I do insist that my kids have to have at least one vegetable at dinner. Most of the time I will give them a choice (like cucumbers or broccoli), but it needs to be eaten.
10. Relax and regroup! If your kids see you getting upset over them not eating their veggies, it’s not going to change anything. I’ve sneaked veggies into their food when they aren’t looking and I’ve decided that’s not how I want to parent. So, I’ve decided not to stress. My kids may never love eating veggies like I do, but I can model veggie- loving behavior and in the meantime, I make sure I give my family a good multivitamin and make sure my husband and I take one too.