If you, like many other mommies, go through great lengths to prepare wholesome and healthy meals for your family, then you know that fresh vegetables and fruits should never ever be left out. There’s just one problem most mothers have when feeding their kids veggies – little kids seem to have an aversion to the green stuff after they’ve tasted chicken fingers. If you are tired of arguing with your kids about how French fries isn’t a vegetable, here are some tried and tested ways you can cheat your way into sneaking vegetables into the family’s daily diet, and eventually getting your kids to love them.
The big WHY
Before you encourage your children to eat their greens, it pays to know why (they won’t let you get away with it unanswered). If you didn’t already know, here are the top reasons you should include a serving of veggies in every meal:
1. Fiber: Veggies help prevent constipation and irregular bowel movement. Fiber acts like a broom which sweeps toxins out of your body and keeps your digestive system in tip top shape.
2. Vitamins: Your ABCs make your skin glow, your eyes bright, and keep your body’s immunity working well. That means fewer bouts of illnesses for you and the family.
3. Antioxidants: If you are looking for the best way to stay young for longer, vegetables and fruits have antioxidants that prevent premature aging caused by free radicals. Antioxidants also protect you from cancer-causing substances.
4. Water: Vegetables have high water content and they are practically fat-free. When you snack on a piece of fruit or vegetable, you’ll be satiated for longer and be without ridiculous carvings for carbs.
It starts with YOU
If you weren’t an avid fan of vegetables before, it is safe to say that pregnancy changed all that. Your efforts were all directed to eating more healthily to deliver all the necessary vitamins and minerals to your unborn child, even if it meant a lot of vegetable and fruit servings.
Some researches say that a baby’s sense of taste develops between the 13th and 16th weeks of pregnancy. The baby is capable of tasting the amniotic fluid he or she swallows. After birth, if he or she is breastfed, the baby becomes exposed to different tastes through the mother’s milk.
The ACQUIRED taste
Pediatricians recommend introducing veggies into a baby’s diet as early as the sixth month. Vegetables are rarely allergenic, and they are generally bland-tasting, perfect for baby’s developing tastes. Start with pureed peas, carrots and potatoes. A child is less likely to become a picky eater when he or she is exposed to the taste of veggies early in life.
SNEAKY ways to get the veggies in
Sometimes, a little sneaking will do your kids’ health a little good. If your kids are old enough to say “no”, then begging, bribing or blackmailing them into eating their vegetables isn’t going to work. In fact, these techniques may only cause more dysfunctional eating habits later on. Here are some ideas:
- Boil and strain carrots finely and add them to your spaghetti sauce.
- Puree beets and mix them in with your pizza sauce.
- Mash some squash in with your mashed potatoes.
- Throw in some finely minced or strained peas or broccoli when making burger patties.
- Sneak in some green beans or spinach into salsa, dips or pickle relish.
- Add some carrots into the blender when making their favorite fruit smoothie.
- Make bread from veggies: pumpkin bread, carrot cupcakes, or zucchini muffins. Top with cream cheese or some nuts.
The RIGHT approach
Because you can’t keep sneaking veggies into daily meals, use these great techniques to get your kdis to face their fear of veggies and crunch away:
- Involve them in meal-making. Your little ones will take so much pride in helping out in the kitchen, it’s impossible to not be able to get them to munch on a stick of carrot or two.
- Give them choices. “You can have vegetable lasagna or these saltine crackers for dinner”. It may sound cruel, but your picky eater would be so hungry, he or she will eventually try that lasagna.
- Never use dessert as bribe. This trick does get old, but it doesn’t mean your kids have learned to love their veggies.
- Lay it out. Keep all your other snacks in your best hidden spot ever, and lay out a bowl of fresh crunchy veggies alongside a dip. When your kids come wandering in the kitchen and find nothing else, your bowl of veggies will greet them with a big hello.
Skinny Mom Fact: In recent studies that have been conducted, it is estimated that nearly 70% of children do not like to eat their veggies. Come on moms, it is up to us to change this number!