Parents tend to say the same thing about their kids when it comes to food: “My kids are terrible eaters. They hate anything that is green or otherwise looks like a vegetable.”
Besides the fact that many kids don’t eat all their dinner (which I attribute to not having a strict snacking schedule), they just won’t eat their veggies. Why is this? In all honesty, it comes down to how the parents are teaching them eating habits. If there is really no food education happening at home, you can’t expect your child to magically enjoy vegetables.
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Rule #5: Eat vegetables of all colors of the rainbow. Don’t eat the same main dish more than once a week.
Honestly, I don’t succeed in giving my girls variety all the time. I have been way more intentional lately, at least with Bella (because of her feeding schedule), but I could improve…majorly.
When I get stuck in a rut of offering the same foods to Sofía, she comes to request those foods more. Many times they are not a vegetable or lean protein; instead, she’s begging for some type of bread, cheese, or an unhealthy snack that we’ve been eating far too much of.
It’s a real shame that “real” food is so dang expensive. Even if you can’t afford to buy organic produce or free range meat, you can still give your child a variety of foods. You really do have to be intentional, though. Your children cannot develop eating habits without your guidance and persistence, so be sure to make it a goal to always give a variety of foods to your child.
I love the idea to focus on one new vegetable per week and try to introduce it to your child in different ways every day. This is something that Karen LeBillon mentions in French Kids Eat Everything. In fact, some time this year I will be trying this and sharing with you my progress. I still have to work out the details, but I can’t wait for it to come to fruition.
How to Add Variety to Meals
Offering variety can be overwhelming if you have never done it. If you are picky yourself and stick to a few veggies that you like, you should join your kids in eating a variety of foods. Here are several ways to add variety to your meals:
- Start by choosing 4 or 5 new vegetables for the month (make sure they are in season).
- Think of every day ways that you can use each vegetable that doesn’t require you to look for a new recipe. This could be as simple as switching out one less healthy ingredient for a vegetable.
- Prepare vegetables in different ways to help your child discover new tastes. These can include:
- Add to a soup
- Get your kids excited for variety by letting them choose the vegetable of the week. Then let them help you in the kitchen. Mine are both way too young to help me, but I sometimes let my toddler watch me chop veggies or see them cooking on the stove.
5 Veggies to Try THIS WEEK
To help you get started and ease into the transition of eating more variety, here are 5 veggies to try THIS WEEK:
Throw some spinach in a smoothie and your kids will be none the wiser. You should try to avoid “hiding” veggies, but it might make things easier on you and your child if you ease into it.
Make THIS fabulous salad (I’ve made it numerous times) with grape or cherry tomatoes. They are tiny and delicious. No kid will complain about that. You can also tweak it to use ingredients you have in your pantry right now.
Make pesto pasta and you will become mom of the year. No joke.
What is one vegetable you have always avoided? Are you willing to try it for the sake of your child?
Make sure to check out the other posts in this series:
- Let’s Talk Kids and Food
- Kids and Food: Great Eating Habits Start With YOU
- Kids and Food: The Snacking Rule
- Kids and Food: Short-Order Cooking
- Kids and Food: Eat Your Veggies
- Kids and Food: Emotional Eating
- Kids and Food: Taste Everything
- Kids and Food: No Distractions
- Kids and Food: Eat Real Food