Many kids don’t like vegetables, or least they think they don’t like vegetables. They frequently reject the idea of vegetables without even tasting then. If you’ve got a picky eater or two in your family, proper nutrition can be tough. You can, of course, just make them eat their vegetables, but this rarely leads to good lifelong eating habits. They will eventually be too big or too old to follow your rules. A better strategy is to try and find a few healthy foods they will eat willingly and also to put healthy food in unexpected places.
Many kids don’t like plain vegetables. So serve them with a tasty dip, or spread peanut butter or cream cheese on celery sticks with raisins on top. One good strategy is to offer a healthy snack that you want them to try, but don’t force them to eat it. Offer two healthy snack alternatives and let then choose how much they eat, but if they choose not to eat it, don’t give them anything else. It seems harsh, but if they learn it is a matter of trying the healthy stuff or waiting until dinner they will be more likely to try it.
When it comes to dinner, offer two healthy alternatives, a vegetable and a salad and give them the choice of which dish to eat. It is better not to force them to eat anything. Don’t make them sit at the table until the food congeals into a nasty mess and then force them to eat it anyway. This will likely create a lifelong aversion to the food. If they choose not to eat anything healthy it is better to withhold a privilege than to use force or punishment. Less computer, television, or phone time or withholding dessert can be good alternatives.
In addition to gradually trying to get your kids to choose healthy alternatives, you can also add healthy foods into everyday recipes. Spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and carrots can be steamed and pureed and added to many recipes such as hamburgers, chili, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and soups for a healthy boost. With the right spices and other ingredients they won’t even be able to taste the vegetables. Bananas, blueberries, and applesauce can be used to substitute for some of the liquid and oil, butter, or margarine in dessert recipes.
With a little experimentation and you can come up with tasty recipes that your kids will gladly eat that include healthy fruits and vegetables. They’ll be getting all the health benefits of good foods without even realizing it. This strategy, along with gradually trying to get them to make healthy choices on their own, should lead better to long-term health for your whole family.