Getting kids to eat their fruits and vegetables has probably been an ongoing battle since the beginning of time. Parents have tried every trick in the book to persuade their children to eat healthily, and considering that there’s no real definitive guide to parenting, the techniques are wide and varied.
Being the only girl with five brothers, I remember my father sitting at the head of the table keeping a watchful eye over all of our plates, while encouraging my brothers to eat all their vegetables because, “It will put hair on your chest!” To this day that confuses me, but it worked, and of course we did as we were told.
But now it’s our turn, and just as our parents did, we want our kids to grow up healthy and strong too. Kids need their vitamins and minerals as they grow and develop. As parents it’s our job to not only make sure they get these nutrients in their diet, but we are also responsible for establishing healthy eating as a lifestyle. By installing these principles from an early age, our kids are more likely to develop an inherent like for fruits and vegetables rather than processed foods and sweets.
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Read our article “Healthy Lunch Ideas” to get some suggestions on what to include in your child’s lunch box.
A Teaspoon Of Butter Is How Many Calories?
All of this is for good reason: obesity among children has become a growing problem over the last 50 years. Since most of us don’t have to climb a tree or chase down an animal to eat anymore, the convenience of high calorie food sources has contributed to this tremendously. When you consider that a teaspoon of butter is 35 calories as compared to an entire cup of nutrient-dense vegetables, it doesn’t take a lot of in-depth research to figure out that we need to rethink how we want our kids to eat.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at 5 techniques every parent should use, as part of an overall strategy to get your kids back into that nutritional zone with the least amount of resistance. Combine these tips with some of your parents’ old tricks, and before you know it you’ll have your very own family legacy for getting your children to happily clean their plates.
- Set An Example: Kids tend to duplicate what they see. By letting your children see that you eat fruits and vegetables too, this will go a long way in establishing that this is mainstream, normal and expected for the family. It’s probably not going to happen overnight, and you can expect resistance in the beginning. But by staying firm and by setting a good example, your kids will gradually accept that this is how it’s done… this is how we eat in our family.
- Include Fruits And Vegetables In Kid-Friendly Meals: Sometimes you’ve got to be a bit creative, and maybe even a little sneaky. Try mixing corn or peas into a tasty casserole; grated carrots and mushrooms in spaghetti sauce; or fruit slices mixed with sugar-free jello. If your kids love bread and muffins, simply switch to bran or whole grain, and mix in some raisins and walnuts too. Finding or discovering recipes where fruits and veggies can be mixed in is a great way to go.
- Never Threaten Your Kids With Vegetables: I know, this is common sense, right? But it’s funny how dinner table discussions can escalate. Threats or negative reinforcement should never be the first weapon of choice. You know your kids and you know what buttons to push. For my Dad and my brothers, it was the ol’ hair on the chest thing. Find what works for your kids and maybe they’ll at least be smiling while they chew on their broccoli.
- Start A Family Vegetable Garden: This is one of my favorite tips because it’s a lot of fun, very educational and it works. Learning how to grow your own vegetables is something that your kids will remember for the rest of their lives. The worthwhile attributes of doing this as a family go way beyond what I could write in this article, and if you don’t have a small patch of land to use, go hydroponic right inside your house. Once your kids have harvested their first tomato or field peas, your job at the dinner table will become a whole lot easier.
- Teach Your Kids To Cook: Involve your children in the kitchen preparation from time to time. Let them make suggestions or select the menu for tonight’s meal. As they get older, begin teaching them how to prepare and cook different meals. Not only will you be providing them with some important life skills, but inclusion is always a good thing. It’s good for the family, and it just might reduce some of the whining and moaning when dinner is served.