If you’re losing the battle with your 2-year-old to get more nutritious veg into their mouth than you would like to admit, try these simple ideas.
We all know the benefits of vegetables - energy, vitamins, fibre, anti-oxidants – but for kids they’re not always as fun as ice-cream. To meet the Australian dietary guidelines of 2-4 serves of vegetables a day for kids under 8 years, we’ve come up with some fun ideas you can do to inspire your kids to eat their veg and help them set up good food choices that they will follow through on later on in life.
Naughty but nice
Kids are all about fun and they’re more likely to love eating cauliflower if you make it into a funny game. So pull out your best reverse psychology moves to get them to eat the veggies you want: flip ‘healthy’ on it’s head and make it ‘precious’ by telling them cauliflower is a VERY special food and that it’s only for special occasions or only for adults. Make this even more fun by appearing to hide the cauliflower from them, then watch them up their cheeky game plan and sneak it off your plate straight into their mouth!
Broccoli makes for a great mop of hair, capsicum is perfect for lips… filling their plate with a variety of vegetables can be a fun game to play when it’s used to make a face. Invite them to suggest a vegetable for each feature of the face and then ask them what the ear, eyes, nose tastes like. A game of ‘oh, no! Don’t eat Vegie Person’s ears, how will they hear?!’ will get the giggles out along with popping the item into their mouth! The Create a Vegie Man on the gofor2and5.com.au has some great inspiration to get you started.
Persist, persist, persist
Don’t get disheartened on a rejection, it takes time for kids to try a new food and up to 10 times for a food to be introduced before it becomes the norm. You can always use education and priase to reinforce the benefits and the good vibes. Try thing like ‘carrots are good for your eyes and will help you see in the dark!’ Even if this is rejected initially, it could stay with them and be taken up later on down the track. When they do eat vegetables, be sure to reward them with praise - but not too much. Food needs to be about energy and nourishment, not eaten as a reward.
From harvest to plate
It’s well documented that the more involved kids are in the whole process, the more likely they are to eat the food on their plates. If it’s possible, create a vegetable patch for your little gardener to get him/her involved at the growing stage. Always get them involved in meal prep, and encourage eating by commenting on the meal they created for the family.