Do you find it challenging getting your kids to eat their veg? You’re certainly not alone! Take a look at some clever ways to boost your little one’s veg intake…
Are meal times sometimes a struggle? We all want our families to eat healthily but, for many of us, life can get in the way. We all know the 5-a-day message and that we should be eating more vegetables. But come dinner time, the broccoli you lovingly steamed is rejected and the kids are screaming the house down. This is accompanied by a worrying trend in the amount of vegetables kids are eating. It was recently reported by CBBC’s Newsround that more than half of kids don’t eat a single portion of veg a day, potentially paving the way for a generation of obese salad dodgers with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Support website Eat Your Veg has come to the rescue with helpful tips from real mums and dads (like grating a courgette into your spaghetti Bolognese) and dinner time will be much happier and healthier for the whole family. We asked dads from Eat Your Veg for their words of vegetable wisdom…
Milo Cumpstey, “In a nut shell – a 2 year old is a tiny version of you but really drunk… what do you snack on when you’re pickled? Salad with roasted squash? No, thought not. So, how do you incite your mini dude to enjoy healthy and tasty? So try these:
1. Blitz up veg into a pasta sauce – you can hide all sorts of less appealing items in a red goo.
2. Don’t give up after a few attempts…they will buckle eventually.
3. Obvious, but not always easy is the leading by example. Eat together and have the same things and NO snacking in between. How can you get a petulant toddler to nibble on something they are not too keen on when they are half full already?
4. Texture can be the key – quite often it’s the texture not the flavour that is the issue. Mushrooms and spinach etc is tricky – try them raw.
5. Have a big pot of the offending veg on the table and not too much of the ‘fun stuff’ on the plate – they soon get extra portions of goodness!
6. My favourite (but most time consuming) is the ‘get them to make it with you’ technique. You’ll be amazed how much salmon stir fry they wolf down if they cut up the veg first. Also, wraps are good.”
Sam Almond, “It has always been relatively easy to get Wilf to eat his veg. I guess this is down to the fact that he was fed homemade meals as soon as he was on solids that were largely vegetable based, so he has a taste for it. He can be a bit stubborn when it comes to new veg and tastes such as aubergines and asparagus, so the trick that works is to cut them up small, or even better, roast them up, and incorporate them into a sauce (curry or bolognaise) and then add meat and more familiar veg to it (he is a sucker for tomatoes). I got him to eat half an aubergine this way last week.”
Tom Price, “We have two boys who love eating meat and carbs but have to be encouraged to eat any veg. The trick that works best with them is to voice the veg and make it into a mini drama with reverse psychology. I’m no actor so I have two horrendously stereotypical voices; a high pitched posh toff pleading “please don’t eat me you meany” or a low cockney gangster voice challenging them, “you just try and eat me sunshine”. They’re both effective and I’m thinking of venturing into accents for things like French Beans but I’ll have to practice on my own first so I give a convincing performance.
My contingency plan is the classic, eating races – Carrot on the fork, on your marks, get set, go! The only downside being that I can’t help wanting to win and then they cry if they don’t win. In fact it’s difficult to lose, so you end up with a mouthful of warm mushy broccoli while they catch up!”
Nick Stephens, “My kids like their food to look as drab as physically possible. No beige is too beige – veg just occupies a place on the plate that could be better used for chips. The way I got my girls to start eating veg was to help cook their own food. This helps them have a sense of personal pride in preparing the food. They were much happier eating something they could take credit for. Not always easy getting girls of 8 and 10 to cook their own meals mind you. Even with enthusiastic supervision…”