Children can be picky eaters, especially when it comes to healthy foods like vegetables. Explanations on the benefits of vegetables are lost on children, leaving creativity and consistency as a better approach. With some persistence, the following five tips will get children to eat and enjoy their vegetables.
Set a Fun Example
Kids learn best by example. Showing them that mom and dad enjoy eating vegetables motivates them to do the same and discourages requests for special meals. Since kids love to play games, include vegetables as part of a puzzle or a special mission helps children see vegetables in a more adventurous light. It is even a good idea to include kids on shopping trips to the grocery store and meal preparation. The process can create excitement for eating vegetables later on.
The One Bite Rule
Studies have shown that children who initially reject a certain food must be exposed to it an additional 10 times before accepting it. This works by insisting children eat at least one bite of an undesired food each time it is served. Through repeated exposure to the food, kids become more familiar with the food and may accept it more easily. Rewarding children’s efforts at trying foods makes them more enthusiastic about vegetables and less likely to be picky. Parents should never force children to finish something they truly do not like, as this will create a negative experience regarding food.
Kids look at food in a very different way from adults. They will not respond to pleas to eat something because it is healthy. Parents can avoid this situation by stating the food helps them grow and makes them strong and powerful. Being creative by using various colors of vegetables and arranging them in artful way on the plate, such as a smile or heart shape, makes the food more appealing to children.
Kids respond strongly to flavors they enjoy. Adding garlic, bacon or butter to vegetables helps a child accept the taste and increases the chances the food will be appealing. While this strategy does add extra calories, most children can handle it as long as it is used in moderation. Sticking with real food ingredients keeps everything healthier with less chance of allergic reactions and other effects from chemicals and processing. You can also try making your kids smoothies too.
Be Positive and Persistent
This is by far the most important component. It is easy to give up when a child consistently balks at eating vegetables but like anything worthwhile, it takes time. Parents must remain positive, especially on days when children refuse to eat even a single bite of vegetables. Staying persistent in the different strategies is the key, as mealtimes should never turn into power struggles. Making vegetables a fun adventure, while including kids in the selection and preparation process, will lead to success.
About the Author
The professionals at the Genesis Weight and Age Management clinic in Nashville help with healthy aging, weight loss, hormone therapy, and even programs that help promote a clean lifestyle. Visit them at 2207 Crestmoor Rd. Suite 204 Nashville, TN 37215.
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