As a supermarket dietitian and a mother of a toddler, I all too often listen to good-intentioned parents who provide their kids with a nutrient-rich diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables, but their kids just won’t eat them. Parents, you are not alone. I struggle with this too. I wish I could tell you that my toddler loved vegetables, but that would be a lie. I’ve seen my child eat bath water and cat food, but grimace at a vegetable? Alas, I am not a parenting expert, but I do know a little something about fruits and veggies, and can offer some helpful hints and support to my fellow parents trying their best to get their kids to eat right.
3 Ways to Make Fruits & Veggies Appealing to Kids
- Celebrate if they like fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars and this sweetness is appealing to kids and adults alike. Vegetables, on the other hand, often have bitter flavors that are harder to like. But, have no fear, I love peas now but vividly remember stuffing them in a milk carton in grade school. Our tastes change. Also, fruits and veggies have many of the same vitamins and minerals. Variety is key.
- Sneak them in. Before I had kids, I didn’t like the idea of sneaking vegetables into meals. But, I think this tactic works to give parents peace of mind, and to get kids some much-needed nutrition for growing bodies and brains. Try this …
- Be creative and get them involved. Kids who choose and assist in preparing vegetables for dinner may be more likely to give them a try. Make funny faces with shredded carrots, sliced peppers, radishes, and grapes for a nutritious after-school snack.
Things You Can Do At The Table To Help Your Kids Eat More Fruits & Veggies
- Offer. Don’t give up on your little ones. The more accustomed they get to seeing fruits and vegetables and watching you eat them, the more likely they are to try as well.
- Encourage. Bribery and forcing your child to eat fruits and veggies is likely going to backfire in the long run. Encourage them to try a bite reminding them that tastes change and they may like it this time.
- Don’t fuss! Any parent of a toddler knows that if you let on that you want them to do something, they’ll likely do the opposite. I try not to make a fuss about eating fruits or veggies, again just encouraging to try. Recent studies show that telling kids fruits and veggies are good for them actually decreases the likelihood of trying them.
Melissa Hehmann, RD CDE ACE-PT
Wellness & Corporate Communications Director
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