Monday, August 30, 2010

7 Quick Tips for Getting Your Child to Eat More Vegetables

Children choose foods, not based on the nutritional goodness or health benefits that foods provide. Rather, they are guided by their taste buds. But that’s not all. Habit plays a major role in what children like and what they do not like. And habits are developed early.

Unfortunately, children are exposed to high sugar, high fat and high sodium (salt) foods so early in life that they never learn to enjoy the natural goodness of foods without these added ingredients. The end result is a child who likes all the “wrong” foods and who may refuse to eat the “right” foods.

Parents know that vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and other vital compounds that promote healthy growth and development. But, getting children to eat their vegetables could prove to be quite challenging, to the point of frustration.

So, short of throwing in the towel, what can parents do to make sure that their children eat their vegetables?

Here are a few ideas:

1. Make vegetables a regular part of every meal. This will get children to accept vegetables as a normal part of the course and get them comfortable with these foods on their plate.

2. Serve up a variety of colorful vegetables. Kids like colors, so use colorful vegetables to tweak their curiosity about the foods on their plate.

3. Serve small portions, particularly when you are introducing a new vegetable for the first time. Seeing too much food on the plate could have the child feeling overwhelmed, perhaps even feeling like he might be punished if he doesn’t eat all. Serving smaller portions will help to remove the fear.

4. Allow the child to have seconds if he wants, while teaching him to control portions.

5. Disguise vegetables by adding them to soups, salads, casserole, gravies, pasta sauce and other dishes where they can be hidden. Chop, mash or grate the vegetables if necessary, but be careful not to overwhelm the dish with the vegetables so that the taste si overpowering that the child refuses to eat it. Gradually, increase the visibility of the vegetables as the child develops the taste or outgrows the resistance to them.

6. Be a good role model. If your child sees you eating your vegetables, he is more likely to do the same.

7. As soon as your child is old enough, involve him in doing fun things to peak his interest in vegetables and motivate him to want to at least try new ones. Be creative.

About the Author
Dr. Dorene E. Carter is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant with over 25 years of experience in teaching, counseling, training, project development and writing. Dr. Carter earned her PhD in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley and is currently President & CEO of CHANA Project, the Child Health and Nutrition Access Project. 

Copyright 2010 (c) Dorene E. Carter, PhD, RD. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or reprinting in any manner or form is strictly prohibited.
The information provided herein is for education and information services only and is not intended as a substitute for proper, personalized medical attention.