Guidelines and strategies to help kids eat their fruit vegetables and other healthy foods.
I remember when I was a kid that I hated, and I mean hated, green beans. My parents would make me sit there for hours until I finished my serving, and they tried lots of creative ideas like adding almonds, seasonings, honey, etc. The truth was, I just didn't like them, but I had to eat them anyway. And now, as an adult, I LOVE green beans and can't understand why I didn't used to think they were so great. I also now appreciate why my parents were so insistent that I eat my veggies.
Why is childhood nutrition important
As a naturopathic doctor, I have many parents asking about nutrition information for their children to promote holistic healing and overall wellness. Many kids don't like to eat fruits and vegetables. And many adults don't either. In many ways learning not only to tolerate but actually crave and enjoy fruits and vegetables is a gradual, learned process. If you didn't learn to like them early on, and if you are never challenged to try new foods, you will never like vegetables.
When taste buds are used to pizza and chicken fingers, of course the subtle flavors of carrots or broccoli aren't going to measure up. But with time and persistence, kids can not only learn to eat them, but actually enjoy them and prefer them over the old foods!
Guidelines and strategies to help kids eat their vegetables
1. Start early. The best and easiest way to teach a kid to like their fruits and veggies is from a very early age. Offer toddlers lots of different types of foods, especially colorful fruits and vegetables. Studies show that new foods are often more likely accepted at age two to four than at four to eight. It's a lot easier to teach them to like healthy foods when they are really young than to wait until they are older.
2. Your kids are watching you. If you don't like vegetables and never eat them, chances are your kids won't like them either. Young kids want to emulate their parents, and these fresh foods are important for all of us, so set a good example by trying new foods yourself.
3. Don't give up. Multiple studies have shown that for kids and adults alike, you may have to be introduced to a new food 5, 10, 15 times before you like it. If the first time you serve spinach it is rejected, then simply serve it again. And again. And again. Eventually your child will be curious to try it, and may find they actually like it!
4. Remember who is in charge. In the end, you are the parent and it is up to you to teach your children healthy habits. Be firm with the "picky eaters" in your family. They may not like every vegetable you serve them, and that's okay; but don't allow them to get away with never trying or eating anything new.
5. Vegetables do not have to be bland! So often when I talk to people about not liking vegetables, I find out that they are simply cooking them with no seasoning. Presented in that fashion, the french fries and grilled cheese on the plate will seem much more appealing. Especially for new vegetable eaters, prepare your meals full of flavor-all sorts of spices, culinary herbs, sauces, and recipes can take a boring chunk of cauliflower and turn it into a fantastic side dish or even entree!
Reference: Dr. Kristina Lewis specializes in holistic women's health, classical homeopathic medicine, herbal medicines, nutritional counseling, all natural weight loss and healthy lifestyle coaching. She is a graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona and works as a naturopathic physician in Asheville, North Carolina at Lewis Family Natural Health. For more information visit www.LewisNaturalHealth.com