How can you motivate your children to eat more vegetables?
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Vegetables are a vital part of our diets, and eating more of them can have a huge impact on our health. Keeping your children healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. As a parent, it’s crucial to make sure your child has a balanced diet and eats plenty of vegetables. However, it can be hard for young children to adjust their eating habits and get used to new foods. Here are some ways you can help your child enjoy more vegetables.
Reward good behavior
Children love rewards, so if you want them to stop eating junk food and start eating healthier, give them positive reinforcement when they do! When they say they want to try a new vegetable dish, reward them with something they enjoy. For example, if they eat a salad for lunch one day, let them have a sweet treat for dessert that night. The positive reinforcement will affect them to prefer healthier foods over time.
Introduce small portions of different vegetables
As an adult, you might not love every vegetable out there, but this doesn’t mean your child has to share that opinion. If you want your child to eat more vegetables, try introducing them to several different types of vegetables in small portions at first. Vegetables like carrots and broccoli are popular with many kids, so these are good starter choices for young children.
Let your children assist in the meal preparation
Try giving your child some control over what they’re eating. Letting children help prepare their food can be a great way to get them interested in healthier foods they might not have tried before. When they help cook or prepare the meal by themselves, they are more likely to try it because they feel like they made the choice themselves!
Kids love imitating their parents, so get them involved in the cooking process itself by involving them in various tasks like measuring ingredients, mixing, chopping, etc.
Three golden rules
The first tip is to have vegetables available and convenient. If you have vegetables in the house, your kids will eat them. You can easily conceal vegetables in foods like soups and stews. Raw vegetables are also a great way to get your child to eat more greens. Consider putting out a vegetable platter with a hummus or ranch dip for an after-school snack.
The second tip is to make sure you’re purchasing healthy options. Frozen and canned goods are usually convenient, but these products can be high in sodium and sugar. Select fresh vegetables whenever possible. When buying canned vegetables you should opt for those that are packed in water and not the ones that come smothered in sauces or butter.
The third tip is to prepare vegetables in ways that make them more appealing to children. Cut veggies into fun shapes or sizes, such as hearts or stars cut out of carrots. That can increase your child’s appetite for veggies as they learn to enjoy different shapes and sizes.
Create fun games
Make it more interesting for children by turning it into a game. You can create a fun vegetable garden, where you can grow your produce and harvest it together as a family. Create garden markers and grow little plants in small pots (think herbs or tomatoes). Every time the child eats something from the garden, give him or her a stamp on his or her “stamp card.” When the card is full, give your child a prize!
When you have a garden at home, you are laying the foundation for children to love vegetables and understand their importance. For your plants to be successful and to save money, you need to try a hydroponic system that is ideal for home conditions.
The best way to get your kids to eat healthily and enjoy it is to plan. Always have a vegetable dish available for your kids at home. Don’t rely on pizza or hamburger, which is considered unhealthy food for your children. Make sure you have steamed and roasted vegetables, salads and other dishes that promote good health. While preparing food for your child, make it fun by playing games and involving them in various activities like singing songs or dancing while cooking or by telling stories while eating together.
Be a role model
Showing an active interest in healthy eating habits can also help influence your kids to eat healthier as well as exercise regularly. Therefore, make sure you are also a role model by practicing what you preach.
When you force your child to eat veggies, it may seem like they will eat them because they don’t want to disappoint you, but this can create a negative experience that your child will associate with the vegetable. Instead of forcing them to eat the veggies, use positive reinforcement by praising them when they finish their vegetables or when they ask for their snack to be their favorite vegetable. You can even use stickers or rewards like extra TV time or video games if there is something that your child wants that you know he or she doesn’t need.
We believe these tips will help you build healthy habits in your children.
Alison Pearson is an interior design student. She is a writer and designer, and her ultimate passion is art and architecture. She is also a bibliophile and her favorite book is “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner. Follow her on Twitter.