Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month? June 17 is also Eat Your Vegetables Day. Eating vegetables is essential for staying healthy, but we all know that convincing children to eat vegetables can be hard. But don’t give up hope! Research shows that small changes can actually make a big difference in the amount of veggies kids eat.
The following strategies are easy to implement, and they’re scientifically proven to make kids eat more vegetables. Check out these healthy eating tips!
Load up your own plate with veggies
A survey of over 700 children and their parents found there was a strong positive correlation between the amount of fruits and vegetables children eat and the amount of fruits and vegetables their parents eat. It seems that the best method is leading by example.
This study also found that saying something positive about the food you want your child to eat is far more effective than simply telling your child to eat the food. So, if you want your kid to eat vegetables, load up your own plate first, and talk about how yummy the broccoli is.
Cut veggies into shapes
Merely changing the appearance of the vegetables can make a huge difference. When researchers served children raw vegetables whole, or cut into slices, sticks or stars, they found that children clearly preferred the star-shaped vegetables. You can cut vegetables into fun shapes simply by using a cookie cutter.
Hide vegetables in other foods
When researchers served children meals that contained pureed vegetables, the children rated the dishes with the hidden vegetables just as highly as the same dishes without the vegetables. In short, hiding vegetables in foods kids already like is a good way of adding veggies to their diet.
If your child is a fan of pasta with marinara sauce, try pureeing some cauliflower and adding that in. If your child likes fruit smoothies, try incorporating some spinach into the smoothie. This strategy will increase children’s nutrient intake, but don’t give up on encouraging them to eat whole vegetables. After all, whole vegetables contain more fiber.
Serve veggies with dip
Another study found that serving vegetables with peanut butter increased vegetable consumption among children who were particularly averse to eating veggies. If your child has a peanut allergy, you can try another nut butter, or a different type of dip altogether. This study found that when raw broccoli was served with salad dressing as a dip, children ate more broccoli than when it was served plain.
Start a garden
Researchers have found that gardening significantly increases children’s vegetable consumption. It seems that when kids grow their own vegetables, they are more likely to enjoy eating them.
Obviously, not every family can grow all their veggies in their backyard. But growing just one or two types of vegetables with your kids may encourage them to adopt more adventurous eating habits. If you don’t have the space to grow your own vegetables at home, try looking for a community garden that’s kid-friendly.
Convincing a fussy eater to eat vegetables may not be as difficult as you think. Try some of these healthy eating strategies to celebrate Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!
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