Most kids refuse to eat veggies, and this concerns a lot of parents. Parents want their kids to have a well-balanced diet and become overall healthy, especially during this pandemic. But what do you do if your child refuses to eat vegetables?
Why do kids refuse to eat veggies?
First, let's understand why kids are refusing veggies. There is a scientific explanation for this. A child's body requires more energy for daily activities. Their body's normal response is to eat more high-calorie foods that can match their energy needs. They tend to eat more of it, not because of its taste, but their brain and body instincts detect that they can get their needed calories from those energy-giving foods.
The next reason is that veggies taste bitter. This is because of its calcium content and other beneficial compounds like flavonoids, phenols, etc. Children's tastes are more sensitive than adults'. Their natural reaction to bitter foods is that they may have potential toxicity. Also, kids haven't developed a tolerance for bitterness. They may need to try a veggie 10 to 15 times before they can adapt to its taste and conclude that it is safe.
Another reason is kids associate vegetables with their parents' nagging and forcing them to eat, which is quite negative. While sweets, cake, and other treats, are associated with happy memories, like birthday parties, trick or treat, etc. Simply put, kids think of veggies as a task and sweets as a reward.
Tips to help kids eat veggies:
1. Mask the bitterness
There are different ways to cook vegetables, and one way to mask their bitterness is by roasting to bring out their sweetness. Balance the flavors by adding spices or herbs. You can also add parmesan cheese or prepare some dip to make it more appetizing. Most veggies best paired with a dip are asparagus, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and green beans. On another note, the most common kid-friendly veggie dips are cottage cheese dip, greek yogurt, ranch dressing, peanut butter with cream cheese, homemade BBQ sauces, or bean-based sauces. Try and search for dip recipes that your kids might like.
2. Eat veggies with them
Adults should be role models when it comes to healthy eating. Your child will think that it's okay not to eat veggies because mommy and daddy don't like them too. Practice good eating habits with your child. Advise them that veggies are tasty and good for their bodies, making them smart and strong.
3. Make it appealing
Sometimes it's all about the presentation. Prepare the veggies in different shapes and sizes. You can colorfully arrange them like a rainbow, or you can make smiley faces, animals, cars, or anything they are fond of to make it more appetizing. It can make a fun, healthy eating environment, and they'll get excited on the next meal to see your new design. Get creative! Your ideas can be endless!
4. Mix veggies with other meals or fruits
You can incorporate veggies into a fruit smoothie like spinach blended with avocados and bananas, or you can mix beets with cherries or strawberries. You can also add veggies to soups or cream-based soups. Mixing veggies into pasta, like zucchini or cauliflower in lasagna or making fresh tomato sauce for spaghetti is also a good idea. You can make omelets with veggies or add them to burger patties or meatloaf. There are a lot of ways to add veggies to our everyday meals. Your child can eat them freely and get the nutrients he needs without feeling any pressure.
5. Let them choose their veggies or involve them in cooking
Let them discover different vegetables at a grocery store and choose which veggies to try. You can also involve them in cooking, let them watch how you prepare the veggies, or let them help you with simple things like mixing, tossing salad, sprinkling spices, etc. Getting them involved is an opportunity to learn more things and develop their fine motor skills.
We hope these tips can help your child eat more veggies! You can always try to repeat serving the same food after a certain time so they can learn to adapt to its taste. It may be a long process, but our patience, persistence, and efforts will benefit our children in the long run. Remember that we want to raise healthy kids and help them develop good eating habits.
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