Have you hugged your veggie today? Most of us have to fight the good fight to develop healthy eating habits. Research estimates that kids have to be exposed to a new food up to 20 times before they may be willing to try it. That’s a lot of tries and it gets hard to always be met with refusal. Here are some ideas that seem to work well with a lot of different kids. There’s a little psychology to this whole food thing. I definitely got bad results from ordering them to try “just one bite.” It just wasn’t the successful approach for us. Instead of intimidating the kids with a big serving, put one tiny bite of a veggie and don’t make it a requirement. It’s much less frustrating to waste one tiny bite than a whole serving. We made this a game– the only prize was me pretending to be shocked that they were brave enough to try it, followed by me being very proud of them and exclaiming that they’re really eating like a big kid now. Even if they just put the bite in their mouth and spit it out, I would praise them and plant a seed of hope for next time.
- While the kids are learning to like their veggies, sneak them in! For several years I snuck all sorts of pureed veggies into foods. To save time I bought baby foods. I tried to make sure the foods’ colors matched. Put yellow squash into mac ‘n cheese, carrots into ketchup, or just about any kind of veggie puree into spaghetti sauce. Be creative! Another idea is to make our legendary scary veggie muffins!
- If you have a toddler who is already a fan of certain foods, start tweaking those foods. If your kiddo craves chicken nuggets, try a version that uses almonds and whole wheat flour and bake them. (See recipe here) Heck, go all out with spinach brownies for dessert!
It’s frustrating and it’s hard, but it will eventually happen. Kids that are exposed to healthier foods will eventually eat those foods. Good luck!
Champions For Health