Quarantine times can be hard as we try to make healthier choices, especially when it comes to our children’s eating habits. What is one of the biggest challenges? Getting them to eat more vegetables!
With fewer options to eat out and ideas running low on home cooked meals, incorporating vegetables into meals is becoming a bigger challenge. We’ve always been taught that variety is good, but at a young age, our taste buds aren’t as developed so a diverse veggie preference isn’t a reality for most children.
So, now we pose the question: How do we get our children to eat more vegetables without dinner time turning into a war zone of arguments and tantrums?
First, we need to change our own approach on the matter. The goal is to “help” children eat more vegetables, not “make” them. It is fundamental psychology that humans do not like to be told what to do. Three things happen: they stop listening, they refuse to comply, and they are quick to lose their tempers. So, instead of trying to “make” kids eat more vegetables, we need to “help” them. As their mentors, we are responsible for guiding them in the right direction and inspire them to learn and try new things.
Here are a few steps to take:
1. Practice the behavior you want to see.
Choose to go for the vegetables before other food groups, eat slowly, don’t eat in front of the TV, take time to cook your food, and stop eating when you are satisfied, not when you’re full.
2. Do your part and trust them to do theirs.
As the parent, make the decisions as far as what food will be brought into the house. Provide a variety of choices for the children to choose from for dinner. Allow them to have some say to help them feel like their voice is being heard.
3. Remain neutral.
It is tough to please them every single time when it comes to vegetables; therefore, it is important to ask thought provoking questions on taste and what they perceive. Help them voice their opinions when something tastes particularly good, and encourage them to explain why certain vegetables do not taste quite right. It goes without saying that you do not need to immediately remake dinner to their liking but reinforce their communication skills by acknowledging that their concerns have been heard for future reference.
4. Ask for their help.
Children like to feel like they are making a difference and their help is appreciated. A few things you can do to help include:
- making the grocery list (reasonable choices)
- picking out fruits and vegetables at the store
- help prep/cook the food
Now, take some time to practice these tricks and tips. Observe what you see as a positive response from the kids and take note of it. Over time, they will learn to make healthier choices and start to develop key habits