Healthy eating is something we, as adults, strive to do on a regular basis. We know that healthy eating plays an integral role in our overall wellbeing, such as reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol, boosting our immune system, and maintaining a healthy weight. However, for children, getting them to eat their vegetables can be quite a feat.
What makes kids so against eating their vegetables? One of the biggest reasons is the fact that we encourage them to eat them because of their many health benefits – i.e. by telling them they can make you tall, stronger, etc. – but according to a 2014 study done by Dr. Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, that’s not what kids want to hear and it only makes them less receptive to the idea of eating healthy. Children are much more likely to eat vegetables when they’re presented to them as being “delicious” rather than being told about their benefits. Parents also often praise their children for eating vegetables – more so compared to other food items on their dinner plate. While praise is never a bad thing, it can sometimes become excessive and cause the child to question why they’re eating vegetables in the first place, and may make them less motivated to do so.
When it comes to kids eating vegetables, preparation also has a lot to do with it. If you hand your child a plate of steamed vegetables, changes are they’ll be less likely to want to eat them. Vegetables also tend to taste much more bitter to children than to adults. There are, however, different ways you can make vegetables more appetizing.
Broccoli, for example, can be cooked in the oven by melting cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan cheese on top. It could also be used to make broccoli and cheese soup. Sweet potato can also be turned into fries. Not only do they taste good, but they’ll leave your child feeling fuller for longer periods of time and less likely to want to snack in between meals. Sometimes the colour of vegetables alone can be enough to turn kids off them, so make sure you’re also including a variety of vegetables on their plate during mealtime. If they’re used to eating green vegetables, switch to red and orange vegetables such as carrots and tomato. Vegetables can also be easily incorporated into many kid-favourite meals, such as casseroles, pizza, and nachos.