3 Facts Every Parent Should Know About Vegetables
Many parents of young children struggle to get them to eat vegetables. Their little ones may be going through an age-appropriate picky eating stage or a food jag; they may be very cautious eaters overall; or may belong to the club of super tasters. Whatever the reason for their declining interest in vegetables, your most helpful strategy is to remain as neutral as possible and take the pressure off of mealtimes.
Here are three facts about serving vegetables that parents should keep in mind if they plan to help children learn to enjoy them:
Consistency is the Key to Success
When vegetables make an appearance only at dinner table, kids are less likely to eat them.
Solution: Make vegetables a part of every meal or snack. If veggies come back in the lunch box untouched, keep packing them but make sure it is a really small serving. This way you can reduce both waste and level of frustration.
Hiding Spinach in Brownies is Not Helpful in the Long-Term
Many parents I know have resorted to this technique as a temporary strategy to boost their child’s nutrition. But somehow, most of them still cannot find their way out from spending hours in the kitchen while dealing with a child who eats fewer and fewer vegetables.
Solution: Feel free to fortify meals with pureed and shredded vegetables, but make sure to always also serve vegetables in their natural form alongside the meal. If children like the new recipe of cauliflower mac-and-cheese, use this opportunity to “disclose” the ingredients and invite them into the kitchen next time to help with preparation.
Many children are very sensitive to the bitter compounds found in some vegetables and may reject them for this reason.
Solution: Mask the challenging taste with additional flavorings, such as fat, salt and sugar. The nutrition children get from vegetables is worth the splurge! Add some oil and a sprinkle of salt or parmesan cheese to the broccoli, serve a flavorful dip with raw cucumbers and peppers, or roast carrots with a splash of honey to highlight their natural sweetness.
Tell me, did your child go through the “I hate veggies" phase? What approach did you use to handle it?
Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian in a private practice in New York City and blogger. Read her recipes and advice on weight management, prenatal and pediatric nutrition at TribecaNutrition.com/blogspot, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.