I’ve recently had an increase in ‘fussy eater’ parenting emails that prompted me to write this post about veggies.
I’m always asked for ideas to get littlies eating the dreaded greens – not an easy task for sure, but one I’m happy to say I’ve done rather well at during my career and now as a mum.
So then – fussy eating! It’s a problem that worries parents to the point of despair. Worrying their child isn’t getting the right nutrients, worried they’ll starve (seriously – a child won’t starve themselves) and worried they can’t take them anywhere else to eat through the stress of it all!
Here’s my top Ten tips to get children eating veggies!
1. Don’t get stressed! Littlies are very smart – they know the buttons to press and what works when it comes to not wanting to eat those greens, so pop them on the plate and smile! Ignore the moans and complaints. Don’t encourage negative behaviour by arguing the veggie cause. Relax, have a cuppa and chat about anything other than the meal itself.
2. Set a good example! Oh dear- I’m awful at eating veggies. Really awful! I drive my vegetarian husband potty with my fussy eating habits but my little ones aged 2 and 3 are unaware because I’m a great actress! I’ll often share my veggies with them (they love them) as some kind of treat. I don’t have to eat so many then. Smart hey?
3. Make veggies taste better!
Overlooked, out of date soggy veggies are pretty gross keys face it. Making them taste (and look) great is a far better time taker than sitting at a table having a food battle for half an hour right?
Try adding fruit to veggies – cooked apples mixed with carrots taste great as does pear. Or how about adding a cheese sauce to broccoli? There’s lots of tastier ways to serve up the greens ~ give it a try!
4. Grow your own!
Not everyone has a garden, but some veggies can be grown in small pots on a windowsill or balcony quite easily. Letting children get involved with the planting, growing and harvesting of vegetables can really encourage eating them. Pictured right is a pumpkin we proudly grew last Autumn and msde into fabulous pumpkin soup!
5. Let them play! Younger fussy eaters will love this but parents may not! Let your little one eat their dinner with their fingers, a small digger (I’ve let a child in my care do this to get over his Brockley fear! It worked!) Or leg them make a picture with the veggies on their plate on the understanding they eat a piece every few minutes.
Bad manners? Sure! But they’ll be learning to like the tastes and the novelty will soon wear off and they eat them normally.
6. Make up veggies stories!
One of my favourite ways of getting children to eat their greens is to make up stories. My two think Asparagus are actually tinkerbell sticks! Eat them and you’ll become magical! Dipped in sauce or a boiled dippy egg – they’re a great veggie to master!
7. Hide them!
Yes-the old favourite of mashing veg and hiding them.
Soups are a great way of getting veggies into little ones, or adding them to favourite dinners. Ever thought to add grated carrot or courgettes to spag Bol? You don’t even notice it’s there taste-wise! How about grating veggies underneath the sauce on your homemade pizza?
8. Good old bribery!
Yes – the oldest trick in the parenting manual. Bribery. Is it wrong to bribe your little ones in the name of healthy eating? I don’t think so – so get bribing!
A reward for trying new veggies or eating half of the portion given is. Great way of encouraging eating veg. I’m not talking cash here! I’m talking a trip to the park, a comic (yes I’m old school) or a favourite pudding treat.
9. Veggie trading!
Great for older children – trading ( a little like bribery) is a great way of easing the food battle and encouraging eating better! For example – you’ll trade them eating all the courgettes on their plate for an extra half hour watching their favourite TV show/staying out playing in the garden/staying up a little later. It works!
10. Give veggies funny names.
Lets face it – veggies have dull names so how about adding a little character to them? We like to call sweetcorn sweet-sweety-corn. Yes my two little poppets think sweetcorn are little sweets. I’ll suffer for it later I know, but for now – they love it!
I hope these tips help you in your veggie journeys with your little ones! Good luck and I’d love to hear of any of the ideas helped you.