This post was sponsored, however, all opinions are my own.
As a parent, there are certain phrases that we are forced to use so often that we actually get sick of hearing ourselves say them.
“Put your socks and shoes on.”
“Pick up your mess.”
“Eat your vegetables.”
While you are on your own for the first two, there is hope when it comes to getting your kids to eat veggies. Even as adults with busy lives, it’s tough to break our unhealthy eating habits and set a good example. It’s even worse when, as an adult, we actively avoid eating our vegetables and set a bad example for our kids.
According to the Mayo Clinic, over three million kids under the age of 18 suffer from childhood obesity. That can lead to a myriad of health issues like diabetes, high cholesterol and other issues that can haunt them as they get older. That’s why it’s important to instill good eating habits early on and as their parent who usually serves as the gatekeeper for what they put in their mouths at mealtime, you have the biggest impact on how well they eat, including a diet high on vegetables.
Here are some simple tips to get more vegetables in your children’s diet.
- Serve them during non-meal times: Some parents have a problem instituting rules and boundaries with their children and believe they shouldn’t ever force their children to do anything they don’t want to. One way to avoid forcing kids to live up to the expectation of eating their vegetables at the dinner table is to serve those vegetables where there aren’t those expectations, like during snack time. Just making vegetables available in a pressure-free environment is enough to inspire kids to snack on veggies without having to have rules enforced by a parent.
- Offer several options: Providing at least two different types of vegetables as sides during mealtime can give kids the illusion that they are in control of their eating decisions. By telling them they only have to eat all of one and just try the other will make it appear that you are willing to compromise a little. They don’t need to know that getting them to eat a helping of vegetables, no matter what it is, is considered a win in your book.
- Set a good example: Children who are never taught to eat properly by their parents grow up to be parents themselves who don’t know how to eat properly. If that parent refuses to eat vegetables because “they don’t like them” or because “they don’t want to,” they will have zero credibility when it comes to making their kids eat their vegetables. Being an adult means doing things you don’t like so don’t just push those mushrooms to the side of your plate. Put them in your mouth and swallow. If your kids see you do it, they won’t have an excuse why they won’t have to as well.
- Prepare them their way: The taste of some vegetables can vary greatly depending on how they are cooked. For example, they may not like steamed green beans, but they will eat them if they are sautéed and crispy. If adding a little cheese sauce to broccoli will make you kids more likely to eat them then go ahead. Once you get that proverbial “foot in the door” or more accurately “fork in the mouth” it will be easier to get them to eat them in other forms.
- Mix them in the meal: If all else fails, just straight up lie to them about eating vegetables. Many recipes like pancakes, sauces and meatloaf allow for you to add pureed vegetables that your kids will never even notice. You can even add them to a smoothie – just make sure they don’t turn the smoothie green. After all, what they don’t know will actually be good for them.
- Give them what they want: Sometimes, you might even find that they enjoy eating their vegetables. We recently discovered Garden Lite’s Veggies Made Great available at Costco. The Souble Chocolate Muffins have become a staple in our breakfast rotation. He enjoys them so much that he doesn’t even realize that the two main ingredients are zucchini and carrots.
Vegetables are the first and primary ingredient in every Garden Lites product, from the muffins and veggie cakes to frittatas and entrees. Not only are all of their products vegetarian-friendly but they are gluten-free as well.
Getting your family to eat more veggies may take some advanced planning. Make sure they’re offered several times a day and in several forms. Give your child, and yourself, time to decide if you like a vegetable. Go ahead and be sneaky with the veggies sometimes too. When it comes to your family’s health, vegetables matter.