I’m not a big fan of mom-guilt. I try to avoid it by keeping in mind my definition of what a successful mom is. Part of that definition is “keeping the kids alive”. Yeah, I know I’ve got the bar set pretty low. But, that one goal has a bit of a gray area, I think. If I can’t get kids to eat veggies … am I really keeping them alive? Or, am I failing as a mom?
We all know that vegetables are an important part of our diet. And, not in the way that they help us to lose weight. But, in the way that they directly impact the health of our bodies. 70% of our immune system is in our gut and, if we are not eating a rainbow of pre and probiotic vegetables, we could be causing our bodies a lot of damage.
With that in mind, I’ve got a couple of kids who are in a toast and pretzels phase and getting them to eat anything that grew out of the ground is a little extra work. But, it’s extra work that’s worth it and I will keep with it until they start to making good choices about their diet.
Benefits of Eating More Vegetables
I can remember when I was a kid my youngest sister hated brussel sprouts. Every time we had them, she would be stuck at the dinner table until bedtime because she refused to eat her brussel sprouts.
It got to the point where she would sneak her brussel sprouts over to my plate when our parents weren’t looking because I loved them.
We’ve always been told that we need to eat our veggies. But, why?
Well for one, vegetables have all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. That is, if you eat the recommended 2 to 3 servings per day.
Things like healthy skin, weight management, gut health, energy, mood, psychological well-being, and decreased risk of developing chronic illness are all benefits of eating more vegetables.
Plus, if you eat fermented vegetables like Kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles you are helping your body get rid of toxins because fermented foods are some of the best antioxidant superfoods. Not to mention how good they are for your gut health.
Are vegetables good for kids?
Obviously, kids don’t need healthy skin or weight management. But, if you could improve your kid’s mood, would you do it!? Of course. And, eating vegetables helps to boost your kiddo’s immune system and protect them from developing chronic illnesses as adults.
Is it important to eat vegetables?
It is very important for kids to eat vegetables. They are nutrient-rich and full of the vitamins and minerals that your child’s body needs to grow healthy and strong.
The benefits of eating vegetables are the same for adults as they are for kids. Vegetables are basically natures vitamins and are perfectly engineered to provide our bodies with all of the vitamins and minerals that we need in a day.
In other words, if you and your kiddos eat three servings of vegetables each day, you never have to take a vitamin.
My child is a picky eater and won’t eat vegetables
Alright, so now that we know all of the facts about vegetables, we need to deal with the elephant in the room.
Kids don’t like vegetables and rarely eat them willingly.
Of course. Something that is healthy for them and can help keep them from getting sick is the NUMBER ONE thing they refuse to eat.
That’s the just nature of the beast when it comes to parenting.
In my house, we have reached a happy medium. We offer the kids vegetables and ask them to take one bite. After that, if they don’t want them anymore, no problem.
I have talked with their pediatrician and she assures me that my kids are growing and developing just fine without getting the three servings of vegetables that I’m “supposed” to give them.
So, I don’t sweat it. I figure, someday when they’re older, they will start to make good choices about their diet. But, only if I don’t traumatize them with berating, belittling, and drama every single night at dinnertime.
The dinner table is where my family and I sit and look at each other’s faces and have a conversation. We laugh and talk about our day. I want to enjoy that time. And, I don’t want to fight about friggin’ vegetables.
How To Get Kids To Eat Veggies
So, whether my kids eat their vegetables or not, I don’t freak out about. But, I do offer them vegetables and I try to be creative and do what I can to help them be interested in eating them …. someday. Here are a few ideas that work for us:
Set a Good Example
If kids see their parents eating veggies like it’s no big deal, then it will become normal to them and they will start to come around. This is really tough in my home because I can’t even remember the last time that my husband ate anything green.
But, I eat green leafy veggies, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and a whole slew of other vegetables on a daily basis. Since I work from home, I can cook up some veggies with brown rice, scrambles eggs and salsa for lunch.
It’s gotten to the point now where my 3-year old will share my “green leaves” and then ask for some of his own. So, at least for him, hubs bad habit isn’t rubbing off. The 5-year old is a different story.
Make Vegetables Fun & Convenient
I have found that if I buy carrot chips versus a bag of carrots, my daughter will eat more carrots. I have a couple of big Tupperware containers and I buy a mix of carrot chips, snap peas, sweet peppers, and cherry tomatoes and then mix them all together is one of those big containers.
All she has to do is open the fridge and grab the box. She eats a lot less veggies if I don’t do this for her so, I’ve made it a priority. (And, as I write this I realize that she can do it for herself too! I’m going to add that to her chores list).
Hide Vegetables In Recipes
This is probably the best advice that I have gotten about getting the kids to eat their veggies. There are a couple of ways that I have found to pass off hidden veggies to my kids effectively; marinara sauce and muffins.
They also really like spinach and apple fruit rolls but, that’s a lot more work so I don’t make those very often. I tried to give them smoothies but, I could never get the balance right so that they couldn’t taste the greens. And, one time I tried a spaghetti sauce with blended broccoli in it. Epic fail. Don’t try that one.
Reduce Their Sugar Intake
I don’t know if you’ve ever done a sugar detox but, it is amazing what it does to your taste buds. I did a sugar detox a few months ago and have only had fruit since then – no sugar.
And, the first sweet thing I had was a Zevia cola, which is sweetened with Stevia, and I couldn’t even finish it because it was too sweet.
If you slowly reduce your kid’s sugar intake, their taste buds will adjust and the flavor of the vegetables will change. This probably won’t get them to eat collard greens. But, they might eat things like butternut squash and sweet potatoes.
Pair veggies with a main course that they don’t love
This is kind of a psychological fakeout that comes from a study done at Harvard. The study followed grade-schoolers and tracked what kind of scenarios influenced an increase in vegetable consumption in the school lunches.
Basically, they found that, when burgers and chicken nuggets were served, vegetables were left untouched. But, when the main course was something like a turkey hoagie, the kids ate more vegetables.
In other words, if the main course is something that your kids like but, don’t LOVE, they’re more likely to eat some veggies with it.
Give Them Juice Plus
So, full disclosure, one of the reasons that I don’t worry about how many servings of vegetables my kids are eating is because I give them Juice Plus as a supplement.
Juice Plus is basically dried fruits and vegetables that have been ground into powder and shoved into capsules. I first read about the company on the Dr. Sears website. Then, I did a little more research and found testimonials from 28 physicians who prescribe Juice Plus to their patients.
So, I figured it was safe to give to my kiddos and, I feel so much better knowing that I’m reaching that “keep them alive” goal that I set for myself.
What is the number one struggle you have with how to get kids to eat veggies?