Vegetables. Yuck!! Or at least that’s what your little ones say.
Kids and veggies often don’t mix. Why, you ask? They’re usually bitter, look weird, and because YOU really, really, really want your little one to eat them. You want them to eat vegetables so bad that you hide veggies in every single food possible, even sacred foods kids used to love and trust like smoothies, cookies, loaves, and muffins.
Did you catch that used to in there?
Feeding kids is all about trust. They trust you to meet their needs with regular meals, with bonus points for you if the food tastes and looks good. And it’s your job to trust them to eat what they need for their body and hunger-level.
You break that trust when you start cramming things they dislike into foods they like, all for the purpose of filling your need to “get your little one to eat healthy” or “have a balanced diet.” Don’t get me wrong, you’re coming from a place of love; a place of worry and concern about your little one’s health, but being sneaky will undoubtedly backfire.
It may not backfire today, or tomorrow, but one day your little one will catch on to your fancy tricks of playing hide-the-veggie and you’ll be left stunned by the shear number of foods they will stop eating because they lost trust in what they thought was safe.
Does this mean veggies are out for good?
Not at all! It just means you need to change your strategy and your intentions. Stop playing the losing game of getting your little one to eat veggies, and learn a few strategies that actually work.
4 Strategies to try to help take veggies from yuck to yum:
1. Check your expectations
=> If your little one has never been a fan of veggies, don’t expect them to start now just because they “need” to eat them. Your expectations are palpable, meaning your little one can feel your intentions, your gaze, ultimately the pressure to eat the veggies. Meals times turn into a power play where your little one will show you just how in control they are of what goes in their body.
2. Make veggies fun
=> You don’t have to have an Arts degree or a Masters from Pinterest to put a fun twist on veggies. Play with different shapes, cutting styles, sauces, and dips. This helps your little one get in the mood to enjoy their veggies instead of instantly pushing them aside. Having fun with food is an easy way to break the usual stress at the table. Let your little one’s imagination take the lead.
3. Veggies aren’t just to eat
=> Think outside the box. Help your little one see you don’t care if they eat veggies or not (and you have to mean it!) Veggies make great utensils, scoops, dippers, fishing rods, and apparently great birthday candles. The key is to show your little one how to use the veggie item and then sit back and watch.
4. Serve veggies anyways
=> A “no” today doesn’t mean it will be a “no” tomorrow, or 20 tomorrows from now. Keep serving up veggies often, and by often I mean once or twice a day. Mix things up. Serve veggies as a stand alone with different dips then serve them next time as an option with other foods. Carve them out as a spoon and have no expectations for your little one to eat it, or maybe you use a cookie cutter or toothpicks to make cute shapes and characters. The point is every time your little one sees, touches, licks, or smells veggies without pressure to do so it’s step in the right direction towards helping them feel safe and comfortable again to take a bite.
Now, my question to you is….