Dr. Carter’s Nutrition Journal
Getting Your Child to Eat More Vegetables
Dorene E. Carter, PhD, RD
May 14, 2010
Feeding children is a constant struggle for many of today’s parents who are often competing with fast food and other low-nutrient foods for their children's appetite. Unfortunately, children do not understand that eating too much of these foods could be bad for their health. Nor do they understand why it is important to eat vegetables.
Children are greatly influenced by powerful television advertising that entices them to eat foods high-calorie foods that are loaded with fat and sugar but offer little or none of the vital nutrients kids need for healthy growth.
As a parent, there are some things that you can do to get your child to eat more vegetables.
Here are a few tips.
Get your child excited about vegetables. Ask him about his favorite vegetables, take him shopping and allow him to wash the vegetables. You might even having a ‘tasting party’ before the actual meal. Another great way to get your child excited about vegetables is to have him plant a fast growing herb or vegetable, such as green onions or tomatoes.
Serve vegetables daily. Making vegetables a regular part of family meals will help your child to see that it is nothing unusual, just another part of the meal to be enjoyed.
Offer one new vegetable at a time, but aim for variety over the course of a week. This will give your child the exposure he needs to discover some vegetables that he might like from the start while warming up to others. Try not to limit the choices to two or three vegetables as this could make it harder for your child to accept others.
Prepare vegetables in different ways - raw, added to casseroles, soups, salads and stews. You can even add them to fruit smoothies for a special treat.
Use colorful vegetables to brighten up meals. Kids like bright colors, so choose foods that represent the colors of the rainbow to get your child excited about eating them.
Keep portions small at first. Putting too much on your child’s plate is likely to cause him to think that he cannot eat all of that and therefore not even try.
Finally, The most important thing you can do to teach your child is to set a good example. Children are great imitators and you are your child’s biggest role model. So, eat your vegetables.
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Dr. Dorene E. Carter is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, specializing in child health and nutrition, with special emphasis on childhood obesity. Dr. Carter, who earned her PhD in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, is CEO of CHANA Project, the Child Health and Nutrition Access Project. To learn more, visit www.dailydietguide.com and www.chanaproject.org.