6 Practical Things Moms Did To Get Their Kids To Eat Their Veggies
We all know it’s not a walk in the park, but these might do the trick for you.
It is a well-known fact that vegetables are a good source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. They also help protect you from chronic diseases, including stroke and some cancers. However, almost every mom can attest that getting the kids to eat veggies is challenging, especially if they’ve acquired a taste for sweets and junk food. There’s hope, though, with these tips from moms on how to encourage kiddos to eat (and love) veggies!
Why is it difficult for some kids to eat vegetables?
To encourage them to love vegetables, we must first understand why it is difficult for our kids to eat them in the first place.
According to Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian and mama-of-five Crystal Karges, vegetables can be more difficult for children to get accustomed to.
“It may be helpful to know that we are born with preferences for sweeter tastes. If you think about it, a baby’s first food is breast milk, which has naturally occurring sugars, including lactose, which is beneficial for infant growth and development.”
Because of this, foods that tend to have more bitter, sour, or complex flavors (like veggies) are new to them. However, Crystal says that they can learn eating different foods by getting familiar with them.
“Eating vegetables is no different [from] developing a new skill, like riding a bike. It takes practice in a low-pressure environment, [with] patience, and nurturing,” she adds.
Tip #1: Serve fruits and vegetables as snacks.
Marites, a 35-year-old mommy of twins, says that getting her daughters to eat veggies was one of the most challenging tasks when they were toddlers. However, it really helped when she introduced them to fruits during snack time. “Mas gusto ng daughters ko ang fruits, siguro dahil they are sweeter,” she shares. “What I do is I prepare fruit and vegetable kabobs, so they can easily eat them while watching TV or playing.”
To make fruit and vegetable kabobs, all you have to do is grill your chosen ingredients (depending on which fruits and veggies you have) and assemble them on barbecue sticks. Marites’ kids learned to love veggies because of this trick, and yours can too!
Tip #2: Try vegetarian versions of the usual ulam.
Instead of using meat when cooking spaghetti, Marites opts for mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli.
“My kids don’t notice the lack of meat in the spaghetti, because it’s still tasty even with veggies,” she says. She emphasizes the need for flavor when it comes to introducing vegetables to your kids. “Combining veggies with sweet-tasting dishes can mask some [of the] bitter or sour flavors of the veggies.”
Tip #3: Make veggies look more appealing.
Karen, 42, and a mom of four, says that a proven way to encourage your kids to eat their greens is to make their plates as colorful as possible.
“Nu’ng marami pa akong oras, I would design their plate into their favorite characters. Minsan si Dora the Explorer, Doraemon, or Mickey Mouse,” says Karen. It does not matter if they do not look 100% alike as the characters, you just have to put your kids’ imagination to good use.
“I also make sure that their plates are colorful, a bit of orange for carrots, green for kangkong or spinach, and I’ll add fruits too.” This was extremely helpful for Karen’s kids as they got to explore their five senses, as well as their imaginations. “They always look forward to it,” she says.
Tip #4: Make their mealtimes interactive.
Mealtimes can be stressful, especially if your kids would rather play than eat, so why not do both?
Mylene, 28, learned to make mealtimes interactive for her 3-year-old son. “I was a preschool teacher so my experience there helped me [with] motherhood,” she says that “making it fun” for your kids is helpful as they won’t consider meal times as something that hinders them from their free time.
“I read stories for my son sometimes and we’d make it a game. Mag-set ako ng specific word mentioned in the story, tapos kung gaano karaming beses ma-mention yung word na yun, he will take a bite of his meal.” Remember, making mealtimes interactive is an opportunity not only to include healthy vegetables into your kid’s meals but to teach them as well!
Tip #5: Serve vegetables with dips and sauces.
Another trick from Mylene is providing dips and sauces, especially for merienda. “I learned from teaching preschoolers that kids really love flavors, lalo na ang sweets,” she shares. Mylene suggests whipping up different dips, like cheese, salsa, mustard, and ranch.
“You can grill sweet potatoes and broccoli to go with the dips,” she says that these flavorful dips satisfy their taste buds, because they mask the bitter taste of some of the vegetables.
Tip #6: Keep trying!
The most important tip is to keep trying! Getting your kids to eat healthy can be a tedious job, but it’s not impossible. In fact, these mommies successfully did it!
So, which trick are you trying today?