Including veggies in our diet on a daily basis is important for many reasons. Vegetables are rich in nutrients, packed with fiber and antioxidants which help to keep us healthy. They also provide an even energy since they are digested and absorbed slowly in the body. But getting kids to eat vegetables can be such a struggle! One of our writers even created a fart chart to encourage her children to eat veggies — we will do ANYTHING! So, here’s what works for my family.
10 ways to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables
Provide your child with a plate of chopped veggies in a variety of colors and shapes. Ask your child to create a piece of art. Oftentimes, this can take the pressure off eating the vegetables and focuses more on a task. During the creative process, snacking may take place, which becomes a win-win for everyone.
Veggie Games & Competitions
Turning a task into a game or competition is a great way to ensure the job will get done and it will be fun. Play Tic Tac Toe with your child, modeling snacking as you play. Take your child to the store and see how many different color vegetables you can put in your cart. Challenge your child to find one new vegetables. Try to fill the cart with at least 10 different vegetables. Focus on filling the cart with mostly produce and less with processed foods. Keep track of how many colored veggies you can eat in one day. Enlist the whole family in a veggie competition, seeing who can eat the most amount of veggies in a day. Hold a taste testing game where you present a store-bought carrot, for example, and a fresh local carrot. See who is able to identify which is which. This game is a family favorite. Great to do with cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes as well as many other delicious, in season, vegetables.
Including your children in meal preparation is a great way to empower them and hopefully get them excited about dinner since they partook in the work. Have them help with the washing, chopping (depending on age), or ripping leafy greens. Nibbling during this time can be encouraged by modeling by the parent.
Fill muffin tins with a variety of vegetables and dips. Create a snack board with all the colors of the rainbow. Encouraging children to eat more vegetables can be a beautiful experience!
Veggies During TV Time
This suggestion may be a bit controversial, but in my house it works like a charm. We have a rule that the only food we are allowed to eat in front of the TV are vegetables. This rule started to avoid crumbs everywhere but I soon realized it is a great way to get our veggies in. We have TV time from 4 to 5pm while I make dinner. During this time my girls are always hungry so I make sure to serve them a bowl of veggies, all of which get eaten while mindlessly watching TV. I think of it as our first course or our “appetizer” before the rest of our meal. I serve veggies at dinner as well but if they don’t eat them all, I don’t worry since their bellies are already full of a variety of veggie sticks.
Every couple of days, I cut up a variety of veggies and keep in them in an
airtight glass container in the fridge. My family will eat a ton more veggies when they are easily accessible and at eye level in a clear container in the fridge. I cut enough just for a day or two as they tend to get dried up and loose some of the nutrients, if not eaten.
When you are out and about during the day with your kiddos, pack a container of cut veggies. Skip the processed snacks. If your kids are hungry enough, they will eat them. If it’s all you have with you? They will eat them!
Getting your children excited about eating their veggies is important and teaching them where their food comes from is a valuable lesson. Start your own garden with your family or go to a local farm and have the kids harvest vegetables for dinner.
Be a Good Role Model
Oftentimes a salad on your plate is a lot more appetizing than a salad on your child’s plate. If your child sees you snacking on veggies instead of traditional snacks, your child is more likely to emulate you. Check out fellow writer Jillian’s incredible (and easy) recipes for summer salads!
Bake with Your Child
Instilling the joy of cooking and baking at a young age is important for a life- long appreciation of healthy eating. Muffins are an easy way to add some veggies into a snack. We love adding shredded zucchini, grated carrots, and sweet potato into our muffin batters. See two recipes below. Both are grain- and dairy-free, and sweetened naturally.