Care of Emily Wood, RD
Emily Wood is a plant based Registered Dietitian, wife and mom of 2 young, energetic boys that are thriving on a plant based diet. She operates her own coaching business, where she helps people transition to the plant based lifestyle to revitalize their energy and vitality, so they can reach the level of ultimate health and happiness in their lives. She holds a Plant Based Certificate from the T Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Join her Plant Based Lifestyle for Busy Moms Facebook Group to connect with other inspiring, health-bound moms.
Let’s face it, most kids don’t LOVE their veggies. When my kids first started eating solid food, I always offered a wide variety of vegetables, which they usually gobbled up! But as they grew and started developing a taste for other things, it got more challenging. The good news with kids is that they need a lot of calories to meet the demand of their rapidly growing bodies. But with that said, you still don’t want to be feeding them fat, sugar, and refined foods all day.
I have found a few ways that have really helped me to get my kids eating more veggies. It took some time though! So if these methods don’t have your kids eating a salad the next day, don’t worry! Just keep working at it.
1. Try them frozen. I was listening to the radio one morning, and they were discussing ways to get kids to eat more veggies. Even as a Registered Dietitian, my kids are still just as picky as the next. So I turned the volume up over the screaming kids in the backseat, and tuned in. One thing they mentioned that I hadn’t tried is to offer the veggies frozen instead of cooked. Sounds crazy, but I figured what the heck and starting offering my youngest son frozen peas….and he LOVED them! That’s all he asked for to eat for two weeks straight!
2. Cut them into different shapes. Another piece of advice that may sound crazy, but really works! My oldest son has been brutel lately with the ‘not eating veggies’ thing. One day a few weeks ago I was spiralizing some yellow squash, and the idea popped into my head to offer them to him raw. He refused to try, but I didn’t give up. He used to eat a lot of cucumber, and I had some in the fridge, so I spiralized some of that up….and he couldn’t get enough. I have also discovered he likes when I cut cucumber into longer stalks. Still won’t touch them if they are sliced into circles. So weird.
3. Have them help in the kitchen. I know it can be a little scary having kids help you out in the kitchen with knives, and boiling water, and things of that nature, but even just having them help you get out the ingredients, do some mixing, or look at the food through the glass oven door excites them. Getting them involved with the cooking intrigues their curiosity and gets them in the spirit of trying what was prepared.
4. Make them readily available. Keeping veggies whole piled up in the produce bins in your fridge makes them hardly accessible. Take some time a day or two after shopping and slice up veggies like carrots, celery or cucumber, and put them in the fridge somewhere easily accessible and in plain sight. Berries are a huge demand in our family, so I try to rinse and slice the strawberries as soon as I can and put them right at eye level in the fridge for my kids. They are usually gone before I even get a chance to eat any!
5. Offer veggies first. My boys are ALWAYS hungry! But I attribute that to them being so young and being so active! My point is that they are always asking me for food. I have learned to adjust my approach from “What can I get you?” to “How about some carrots or apple slices?” It’s working great so far in that they often will pick one of the two healthy options presented.
6. Have them see you eat them. If you are never eating the right things, then how do you expect your kids to? Make sure to present veggies often, as often as you can so your kids will realize that as “the norm”. Often times now when I want to snack on some veggies, I will sit next to my boys on the couch, or place the open container on the counter if they are in the kitchen. Being a good role model and making these items as accessible as possible is key. My 3 year old now likes to take 1 bite of each stalk of celery and carrot and put it back, but Hey, I’ll take it!
7. Try a smoothie. What better way to sneak in some veggies then mix it in with some fruit! This is a great tactic for spinach especially. Spinach is super mild and mixes beautifully in a blender with fruit and liquid to make a smoothie. This trick doesn’t work every time though; my son has made it very clear that he will only drink light green smoothies. Kids.