How do you make you kid eat vegetables?
It is a parent's endless battle when their child won't eat vegetables. The battle of persistance ends with them taking a bite of broccoli, and eating plain bread. Even though they claim they are full, the next moment they are hunting for any chocolates and sweets on the adult restricted shelves!
While it's difficult to make kids enjoy bitter foods, some of their taste palettes are purely psycological. A Middle Eastern kid will eat red peppers as snacks, and WWII children were rationed raw carrot on a stick. You can also see this effect in the regional differences of the movie “Inside Out”, where the food toddler Riley rejects is different depending on the audience. Western audience get a broccoli, but the Japanese get green bell peppers as broccoli isn't considered a hated vegetable.
Why do kids reject vegetables?
Part of this is simply an evolutionary trait of innate aversion to new tastes, which can be overcome by gradually introducing small amounts of the vegetable until their taste buds adapt.
Then there's vegetables that may have unpleasant flavors or textures that children find unappealing, such as corriander or overcooked vegetables. Overcooking a vegetable to mush takes away much of the texture and flavour that they could've enjoyed.
Finally, eating habits can influence a child's willingness to try vegetables, so it's important to find what works for your child. Offering dessert as a reward for eating vegetables could train them to believe vegetables are chores or punishments. But it can be challenging to convince children to eat something without much sugar, carbs, or fat.
Here are some tips and tricks that may help a child eat their vegetables.
- Calling broccolis baby tree or dinosaur food, cut carrots as baby carrots.
- Using lettus to let the kids wrap meat like Korean BBQ. Who doesn't love playing with their foods?
- Nuts – Make a pretend game where the kids act as birds and eat nuts.
- Lunches are not packed with crisps, but fruits, carrot sticks and bell peppers. Avoid enforcing the idea that a processed snack comes with every meal.
- Bring out the vegetables on the table before the main meal is served, and permit them to eat first. If they are hungry, they will eat out of boredom.
- Garlic fried broccoli – Boil the broccoli for 1 min, then fry it in a pan drizzled with garlic and oil. flavour with salt.
- Butter fried mushrooms – Just as it says. Sprinkling some vegetable stock can also enhance flavour. Use salt or soy sauce to taste.
- Oven cooked carrots and parsnips – Marinate with oil, sugar, and salt before sticking it in the oven.
- Quick boiled vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, fine beans cooked for 1.5mins or less. Salt the water if you want to keep your greens green.
- Cauliflower with white sauce – mix 1:1 flour and butter in a pan, and slowly add milk to a sauce thickness you like. Add chicken stock to make it irresistable.
I believe if plain vegetable isn't convincing enough, adding sugar, carbs, or fat is the key to introducing the novel ingredient.
Other behavioural training
- Don't give them separate meals from the adults.
- Avoid desserts after meals. One family has even gone as far as allowing the kid to choose what to eat first, as long as they eat everything
- Prepare vegetable sticks and nuts if they get hungry at an odd time. Avoid processed snacks
- Let kids choose their food portion. Forcing kids to eat a certain amount can make meals a pyschological punishment.
- Let them drink water, flavoured water, or tea instead of juice with a meal or any outdoor activity. Drinking sweet drinks is a learnt behaviour.
There are many ways to skin a cat, and these are just a few examples based on personal experience. Have you found something that works for you?