Inspiring Kids to Love Fruits and Veggies
I often hear about the challenges moms have in getting their kids to eat fruits and vegetables- and am asked for advice on how to help motivate kids to not only eat them, but ask for them. I believe that fruits and veggies get a bad rap. How often have you heard or caught yourself saying that you try to find ways to "hide" the veggies in something "good" that the kids will like? Do you willingly, happily eat your veggies (and does your hubby)? Or, do you use negative terms when talking about veggies?
Step one in getting kids to willingly eat veggies is to change the vernacular. Your kids pay close attention to everything you say and do, even if you think that they aren't listening. Stop thinking and speaking so poorly about veggies, have fun with them. I mean, a big part of child rearing is brain washing (or shall we say classical conditioning, that's more "pc")- saying please/thank you, clearing their own plates, making their beds are all examples of good brainwashing that we are all "guilty" of. Not only are veggies great for you, and very necessary for a healthy lifestyle, they can taste great too! There is a whole lot of power in positivity and ensuring that veggies are a punishment.
The next step is to buy fresh. It makes SUCH a difference. A tomato from your backyard or from the farmer's market does not taste the same as one that you buy at the conventional supermarket. If you don't believe me- do a taste test, you will be surprised and this can be a fun interactive experience. One of the first times I made brussel sprouts for my guy, he told me that he didn't like brussel sprouts (I think he said something to the effect that they are gross and smell bad) and made that face- you know the one. I asked him if he had ever tasted fresh brussel sprouts or if he had only ever tried frozen ones. After convincing him that there really is a difference, he relented (we have since established a household rule that everyone has to at least try something once). To make a long story short, they are now one of his favorite vegetables- and the kids eat them too. Challenge yourself and your family to try 1 new fruit of veggie every week- have some fun with your food.
Finally, get the kids and the family involved. If you all have time to shop together, have the kids pick out a different vegetable for each day or meal, boredom is never good so change it up and keep mealtime interesting. Teach the kids how to pick out a good cucumber, apple, head of broccoli or melon and give them tasks at the store. Then try new ways to prepare the veggies and different ways to serve them. Mix some spinach into your pasta sauce (spinach and basil pesto is amazing and can be made in large batches), or try a new carrot or parsnip recipe. Have fun with it and get your kids involved in the kitchen with peeling, cutting, stirring, whatever.
Your kids, and your spouse will come around- evolution isn't over night, but if you do it together and have fun they will soon be asking you to pass the veggies and put the apple in their lunch box.