7) Search for fun recipes online with them
My kids enjoy watching mini cooking videos on websites like Tasty Junior and Goodful. Watching videos on creative ways to make healthy foods can motivate them to see the fun side of eating their fruits and veggies. Additionally, you could sneak vegetables into their meals. Mix in pureed veggies in stews or spaghetti sauce. You could also bury veggies in baked goods like shredded zucchini or carrots in sweet muffins and bread, pureed spinach in brownie mix, ground beets in chocolate cake, pureed yellow squash in yellow cakes or ground pumpkin in pancake batter. They won’t notice the difference. Try to have “Veggie Mondays” where you just serve creative veggie dishes like humus with cut vegetable sticks or mushroom burgers. That way there is no competition from other types of foods. There are many tasty veggie substitute dishes online you can try out.
6) Don’t force them to eat veggies they don’t like
You can urge your child to try 1 bite of a new food but don’t make them eat anything they don’t want to. Many of the struggles obese people have stem from learning to eat just because someone told them to “finish their food” at a young age. Children have natural instincts on controlling their intake. Don’t disturb this balance by making them eat when they don’t want to. Try to offer kids different colored veggies. Kids like colorful foods. Try to serve veggies separately since, unlike adults, kids prefer different flavors served separately instead of together. Try playing with them to make up cute names for veggies. They will be more likely to gobble up carrots sticks if they are renamed “superhero bites”. Try it! You can also make a game where they help arrange the veggies into colorful patterns on their plate before they eat.
5) Teach them how to shop for fruits and veggies
The fruits and vegetable section of the grocery store can be a fun and colorful place for a child to be. Have them pick a vegetable they have never tried. Tell them about the vegetable and how it makes them strong. Better yet, if you are not sure about the benefits of a vegetable, go online together and look it up along with possible fun recipes. You’ll teach them how to introduce new healthy foods in their diet while learning how to research topics safely online. If you have backyard space, you could plant a vegetable or herb garden with the kids. Kids love planting and gardening. They’ll learn how plants grow and be more likely to partake of the veggies that grow as a result.
4) Have fruits and veggies readily available when they are hungry
Instead of having french fries and deep-fried snacks available after their soccer game, have carrot and celery sticks with humus dip or cut apples with peanut butter ready. Your kids are more likely to munch on just about anything, including veggies, if they are hungry enough. You could also have a veggie-juice cocktail ready for them after their game. A great way to introduce a new veggie or a veggie they may not like is to serve it with a dip they like a lot. If they hate carrots but love ranch dressing, serve them carrots with ranch dressing as a way to ease them into new flavors.
3) Be an example
I still struggle with this. It is difficult to choose that garden salad when you have the option of a cheeseburger and french fries. However, kids are more likely to adopt healthy eating habits if their parents practice these habits themselves. My kids are less likely to indulge in junk food if I buy very little of it for the house in the first place. Allow the joy of knowing your kids will adopt healthy eating habits to motivate you to stick with it.
2) Have them prepare fun fruit and vegetable meals
Having them engage in making fun treats with fruits and veggies makes it more likely they will eat the food once it’s prepared. Arranging the veggies on the plate in a fun way e.g. a happy face or the shape of a dinosaur can also make eating their veggies a more fun activity.