Veggie Challenged - any tips for getting the kids to eat more veggies?




Suzanne 3FC
11-07-2005, 06:19 AM
Our food choices as adults are often influenced by our parents and the foods we ate growing up. So many parents feel their kids french fries and chicken nuggets these days, instead of broccoli and grilled chicken. If they don't learn early, then they might have it much more difficult later in life.

Do any of you have tips for teaching small children good habits? Do you always feed them healthy veggies and avoid the junk, or do you give them both? How do you react with other people serve junk to your children instead of more vegetables?


colsnanny
11-07-2005, 09:29 AM
I am a nanny for a 2 and 4 year old. We have raised them with healthy food first. If you start for birth with healthy foods and continue it makes it very easy to get them to eat healthy. Another aspect is that you need to eat health foods in front of the children to show the children how to eat. We try to avoid the junk at home (the worst is goldfish and maybe one piece of candy a day once ina while). It is very hard to get away from the junk out of the house and that's fine. The 4 year old gets a ton of junk at preschool. We also talk about the bad (refined) sugars and good (natural) sugars and why we try to eat healthy and not too much bad things. I find that education is one of the best ways to get them to eat well. We talk about vitamins and minerals in foods and how it helps out bodies work well. I know it sounds funny to talk to a 4 year old about this stuff but they understand more than you think.
There are also ways to sneak the veggies in if it is an older child that is not used to them. One thing to keep in mind is that it can take 14 times on a plate before the child will try something new.
I try not to make too big of a deal about the food. I want them to have the information to make the right food choices but not be hyper about food.
I hope this is helpful.

kaplods
11-09-2005, 02:45 AM
Letting them pick out fruits and veggies at the grocery store themselves, and having them help prepare healthy snacks and meals can help. Especially if they see you trying foods you've never had before either. My 4 year old nephew will try almost anything now, as he's seen us all regularly try foods we've never had before. IIn fact, it's become a bit of a family grocery shopping tradition to try a food, especially a fruit or vegetable we've never had before at least once a month. My mom was telling me they'd all tried quince last week (and nobody liked it, but I hear it's an acquired taste, especially raw).

Colleen


Leenie
11-14-2005, 09:36 AM
My daughter loved veggies when she was a baby, now its like pulling teeth to get her to eat some (she's 4). She watches me and DH ooooh and aaaah over veggies and we do eat alot of them.

She will eat peas and raw carrots as long as I give her some low fat dip but thats about it. As far as fruit, she'll eat grapes and apples, she hates bananas.

I know their taste change and people tell me not to worry about it but its hard not to worry when I'm an overweight adult and I don't want her to be like me. I didn't like veggies until I was in my 20's and my mom cooked them all the time.

I just keep asking her to try things, its all I can do :D

kaplods
11-14-2005, 04:40 PM
I read an article not too long ago that said children's tastebuds are very sensitive, especially for bitterness, and many fruits and vegetables may taste bitter to them. The article said that dips and sauces (ranch dressing, cheese sauce, spaghetti sauce, cool whip, peanut butter) helped balance out the bitterness and were fine for kids who didn't have a weight problem. It also talked about a study that kids who saw their parents eat a lot of vegetables, eventually included more in their diet as their taste buds matured. The article even had a little chart about which vegetables children were most likely to accept at certain ages. Don't remember what they were, but they mentioned a few obvious ones like brussel sprouts and such.

I know texture was a big thing for me when I was a kid. I hated canned peas, but liked frozen, especially defrosted and put on a salad with ranch dressing. I like raw carrots, but not cooked. Mashed potatoes but not scalloped potatoes. I loved crisp apples, but hated mushy ones or apple sauce. These were probably the hardest for my parents to deal with as my fruit & veggie "rules" didn't always make any sense.

My aunt used to make jello with a jar of baby food in it to get her teen boys to eat more fruit. It was actually really good. She made apricot jello with strained apricots in it. The jello looked almost like plain jello, but had a really good almost creamy texture from the apricots. My mother also made alot of stir fries, pepper steak, stuffed peppers and meatloaf with shredded veggies inside. We complained about the pepper steak, casseroles and stirfries at first, but instead of making us eat every vegetables, she would give us a generous serving and not complain if we picked around what we didn't like (as long as we didn't waste most of it and want second helpings). I remember that my brother and I loved the taste the green pepper gave the meat in stuffed peppers or pepper steak, but woudn't eat the pepper. Then I decided that I did like the pepper and would ask my grandmother and brother for theirs. (My grandmother couldn't eat the peppers). When he got older and started to like the green pepper too, I was a little disappointed that I didn't get my brothers pepper anymore and we had to split grandma's).


Colleen

Sheri~C
11-14-2005, 06:36 PM
I have been a childcare provider for 18 years and a few things I do are:

Let the kids choose the veggie of the day.

Let kids help prepare the veggies.

When we shop we take turns choosing something we have never tried before and we have a tasting. Things like star fruit, sugarcane, coconut. Often kids like the way a new fruit/veg looks but are suprised and turned off by the taste or texture. It encourages kids to continue to try new things if we taste them as a family or class.

Serve veggies in unusual ways, the kids love carrot curles made by using the peeler along the length of the carrot. cherry tomatos speared with celery first poke a hole through the tomato then slide a sliver of celery through. You can think up all kinds of strange things to do with veggies!

sometimes we use unusual things to eat with like skewers and toothpicks, branches of rosemary, sugar tongs, chop sticks etc

house rule is that you must try a taste (1/4 tsp) of everything served as your tastes change.

I only put 1 tablespoon of each food on childrens plates and they can serve themselves after they finish what is on their plate.

I never encourage my kids to finish what is on their plate. If they say they are done they are done.

When we eat out the rule is that you finish your meat and veggies but don't have to finish fries, potatos, rice etc.

I include lots of veggies in all of my sauces, stews, soups and chilies but I run them through the food processor first as kids often hate the texture of a vegetable but love the flavor.

Each child is allowed to choose 2 foods they do not have to eat and will not be served.

Elanajel
11-15-2005, 10:12 AM
I try to always put out fruit and veg. with every meal, and not make a big deal out of it (there it is, just like always). SOmetimes it's sliced raw veg. with a cottage cheese or tofu-based dip. I also use frozen berries a lot now that's off-season (for pancakes, french toast topping, etc.) Dried fruit sometimes for desert.

jennie934
11-15-2005, 10:24 AM
I'm very old fashioned about this stuff, my son has to try everything on his plate or he doesn't leave the table. He doesn't have to clean his plate but he has to eat something from each food group. I was a very picky eater and my parents indulged me but I'm not doing that with my son. It won't kill him to take a bite of something he isn't sure he will ike. He does have several staples of fruits and veggies that he loves but I make sure he tries new ones as well.
I also don't allow "junk" food in the house except for special occasions or he can pick one treat a week. He is allowed fried food once in a while out.
He thinks I'm an extra mean mom sometimes but I think its OK to put your foot down once in a while.

phantastica
11-17-2005, 12:21 AM
Most of what I do has been mentioned ...

I make my son take a few bites of whatever vegetable we're having, and I've always done this. If he protested, I told him one of two things - his body needs the nutrients and it would please me tremendously if he tried it, and taste buds change every few months and he might like it now. He's fifteen, and I feel this has paid off because now he has a very healthy diet.

I also do things like shred carrots into spaghetti sauce, finely dice onions and celery to add to things, etc. I once tried carrot cookies on him and he didn't eat them (they weren't that good anyway).

Another thing I do is purchase V-8 Splash ... tastes like fruit juice, but has a bunch of vitamin A in it.

Isla_Bonita115
11-22-2005, 01:29 PM
I just found a healthy fruit-and-veggie-filled Kids Cookbook from Dole's 5 A Day Website...they have some of their recipes online, but for a few bucks you can buy their cookbook w/ 34 healthy kid-friendly recipes! Here's the website: http://www.dole5aday.com/CookBook/C_Home.jsp?topmenu=2

Some examples of the recipes they have available on their website are fruity breakfast parfait, vegetable pasta italiano, carrot & raisin sunshine salad, spunky vegetable pizza, apple tuna sandwich, crunchy vegetable burrito banditos, etc. They list nutrition facts, utensils needed, prep time and baking time as well. A lot of these recipes are simple enough for kids to help prepare, too.

If you get your children involved in the cooking process, they might eat their fruits and veggies more readily...b/c it's something that they made, as opposed to some strange, odiferous green blob that came out of nowhere and was plopped onto their plate....well, they probably think of veggies that way! :p

You'll also not only be teaching them to eat and like fruits and vegetables, you'll also be teaching them how to cook healthily, which is really invaluable.

I am going to try some of these recipes out w/ my 9 yo brother.

LLV
12-12-2005, 10:59 AM
I am a nanny for a 2 and 4 year old. We have raised them with healthy food first. If you start for birth with healthy foods and continue it makes it very easy to get them to eat healthy.
That doesn't always work.

~snicker~

I started from birth (well, 1 year of age when I took my son off of formula) feeding him healthy foods and little by little he started weeding them out himself. He's now down to eating only 1 vegetable - carrots. And that's it.

He won't touch any other vegetable or fruit. And I've tried 'sneaking' vegetables into his foods by disguising them, but that doesn't work with this kid, you can't pull any wool over his eyes. If he detects even the slightest 'weirdness' in his meal, he'll push the entire thing away.

phantastica
12-12-2005, 11:06 AM
LLV, my son did that, too, come to think of it. I persisted on serving vegetables, and eventually he started eating them again.

LLV
12-12-2005, 02:33 PM
LLV, my son did that, too, come to think of it. I persisted on serving vegetables, and eventually he started eating them again.
I'm still trying. I even made a specific day of the week as "try a new vegetable" day, but that didn't work either.

Some kids take to eating healthy when you START them healthy, some don't. And it doesn't help that Kindergartners are served hot dogs and chicken nuggets and pizza on a regular basis. But, I suppose they have to serve what they know kids will eat. Fortunately my son wants to pack his lunch most of the time and he loves his peanut butter sandwiches. He could live on them, I think.

LucyGoosy
02-23-2006, 08:24 PM
I find that the best thing I can do is buy them, and then prep them. When I get home from the store I wash, cut and then package them in ziplocs or whatever.
For example a bunch of grapes would sit in my refrigerator till they went bad. But a bowl full of fresh washed and pulled off the stem grapes won't last a day. Same with celery. I wash, and cut it into sticks.

Most importantly I make it look appealing. Presentation is important. It doesn't have to be fancy, but washed and all the yucky or unappealing parts cut off. I've even made stupid little faces with veggies on a plate.

I once saw on Martha Srewart that she cut up celery and carrots into sticks and put them into a jar of dill pickle juice (store bought jar with the pickles gone.) In a couple of days you had crisp pickled veggies. I hate pickles but my daughter who loves them ate the celery and liked it.

I also think it is important not to assume your kids won't like something. I would have never given my 2 year old raw red onions, but my husband did and she absolutely loved them.( Gave her terrible diaper rash though).

morrigan
02-23-2006, 08:42 PM
Put veggies on the table as snack food after school and before dinner. It is amazing what they will eat when they are really hungry.

Plant a garden. There is something about standing in the sunshine eating fresh peas or beans or carrots. I have had lots of kids visit that won't touch strange food at dinner, but have a completely different reaction in the garden. It gets them out of the element where they can make an issue of it.

Tampaquillowner
03-01-2006, 09:06 PM
I started from birth (well, 1 year of age when I took my son off of formula) feeding him healthy foods and little by little he started weeding them out himself. He's now down to eating only 1 vegetable - carrots. And that's it.

I agree with Colsnanny. I am also a full time nanny for a 4 year old and an 18 month old. I have been with this family since the baby was 4 months old. I have been feeding him primarily since then, usually everything except dinner.

Its interesting really. The 4 year old who had a different nanny (one that basically placated him junk food) wont touch veggies and hasnt been made to. He eats 4 or 5 different things. Mac and cheese, hotdogs (at least 2 a day), bagels, PBNJ, and chicken fingers (fried). This is a child who GAGGED the first couple of times I tried to integrate veggies in lunch. I believe his horrible diet has a lot to do with his nanny and of course his parents. They simply dont ask or force him to try veggies. They "accept" that he doesnt like them and dont try to change his mind.

With the 18 month old I have been the one heavily influencing his diet since he began eating baby food. He has always eaten very very well. Now that he eats adult food I make sure he gets served the vegetable FIRST before anything else. He will eat more of these (sometimes a whole can of green beans) because that is when he is the most hungry. Then he gets his meat, and after he has eaten most of that he gets a starch. Then if he eats well he may get a treat like yogurt or a cookie. His mom comments on how much better Cole eats compared to his brother and I strongly believe its because he is expected to eat those foods and has been since he started eating.

If you give them no choice but to eat the vegetables then that is what they will eat. Veggies I believe are an aquired taste but they are so very important for kids (and adults) to eat. Since I have observed the eating habits of so many childresn I have formed strong opinions on how I want to raise my children in relation to food. They will of course be vegetarians but I want to cut out junk food as much as possble, and they will certainly be asked to eat vegetables whether they like them or not.

Anywho thats my two cents.

LLV
03-09-2006, 10:07 PM
If you give them no choice but to eat the vegetables then that is what they will eat.
Not my 6 year old (actually the only child I have).

He'd starve himself before eating that stuff. The only 'fresh' food he'll eat is bananas and that's it. He used to eat carrots but he suddenly doesn't like those anymore either.

However, I don't let him eat a bunch of junk. He likes his snacks and I always buy the baked kind. Yeah, I know, still just empty calories, but it's better than potato chips. He also drinks plenty of milk, 100% fruit juice, loves his peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly, he won't eat it) and takes a multivitamin every day.

Believe me, I've tried everything to get him to eat fruits and vegetables. I've even tried 'sneaking' them into his other foods. But it doesn't work.

I wish he would eat more of this stuff, yes. But I'm not going to stress myself out about it anymore. If he eats it, he eats it. If he doesn't, he doesn't. I can't puree the stuff and shove it down his throat through a funnel.

Margarita
03-12-2006, 08:57 PM
I read an article not too long ago that said children's tastebuds are very sensitive, especially for bitterness, and many fruits and vegetables may taste bitter to them. The article said that dips and sauces (ranch dressing, cheese sauce, spaghetti sauce, cool whip, peanut butter) helped balance out the bitterness and were fine for kids who didn't have a weight problem. It also talked about a study that kids who saw their parents eat a lot of vegetables, eventually included more in their diet as their taste buds matured.
I was about to post the same sort of comment when I first saw the title of this thread, but Kaplods has already done an excellent job of explaining it. Another thing that helps decrease the bitterness is a light sprinkle of salt or (if your kid likes it) a dash of vinegar.

Something else that got me to try different vegetables when I was a kid--silly as it seems--was when someone other than my parents would offer it to me. I'd eat things for my visiting aunt and uncle, or even for the waitress in a nice restaurant, that I'd always refused to touch when my mom offered them to me at home. I love my mom, but there's just something about wanting to impress an outsider ("Look at me! I'm eating cauliflower!") that made a big difference. :eating2:

kaplods
03-15-2006, 12:49 AM
I seem to have a talent for getting kids of family and friends to taste almost anything, even stuff some adults wouldn't. Several years ago, a family friend and his four year old boy went to dinner with us. The little boy sat next to me, and was curious about the fried chicken livers I had ordered. Like many little boys he was fascinated with "gross" stuff, so I whispered to him in my best "eww" voice, that they were "chicken guts," and asked him if he wanted to try them. I guess I made it sound like a sort of scary game," because although he didn't like them, he so much fun trying them.

My nephew (also 4, just about to turn 5) loves to try new foods, because we've all made a game of it, and he's seen us all try stuff we didn't like. By approaching it as an adventure, and a lot of fun, even if it tastes bad, he's not afraid to try stuff. I think seeing us have fun trying things that turned out to be "icky" really modeled the sense of adventure we all need to try new foods.

Colleen

SherryA
03-15-2006, 02:20 AM
My kids love brocoli and spinach. I guess it is all in the preparation. I usually put cheese sauce on my brocoli, and they started out eating it that way and love it. Now they like it even without. They like green beans and just about any veggys I guess, I can't think of any they don't like unless it is brussel sprouts (which my daughter doesn't like). I think she doesn't like them because I didn't use to know how to fix them without making them bitter. I do a better job these days, but she has her mind made up already.

Spinach I serve raw in a salad with bacon vinegrette (balsamic) dressing. I never liked the way my mom served spinach, she made it too soggy and nasty by cooking it.

Rowan Bailey
03-22-2006, 11:48 AM
This is a great conversation. I know for myself my family had a farm in New Jersey, and while I lived in California, I summered on the Farm. I would work with the women in the morning, and when the veggies came in and were watched, I worked a produce stand off the road in front of the farm.

Also, my godchildren tried things they never would have because we had a garden. They love mashed turnips, we make them with fat free sour cream and fresh chives that they grew as well. It is a great skill and love for a child to develop (gardening) and even if you don't know as an adult, tons of resources. Plus it gets them outside, away from TV or Video Games and the Internet. Kids want to eat what they grow.

Now I know it won't work for everyone, because you may not have room for a garden, but you can also pick one thing to grow, like on a balcony, fresh herbs and container tomatos.....there is a respect for veggies when kids or adults see the entire process....

Jtjoray
03-25-2006, 06:46 PM
My kids hate veggies...but what I do is I make Taco Salads. I get fat free sour cream and light cheese with seasoned beef or chicken. They think it's great and forget that they are eating a salad.

Tampaquillowner
03-27-2006, 09:29 PM
He'd starve himself before eating that stuff. The only 'fresh' food he'll eat is bananas and that's it. He used to eat carrots but he suddenly doesn't like those anymore either.

However, I don't let him eat a bunch of junk. He likes his snacks and I always buy the baked kind. Yeah, I know, still just empty calories, but it's better than potato chips. He also drinks plenty of milk, 100% fruit juice, loves his peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly, he won't eat it) and takes a multivitamin every day.

No offense but in my experience working with many different children for the past 4 years it seems to me to be whether or not the child is made to eat healthy. Of course most children will pick the junk food or the sweets over anything healthy. So would I ! But if you expect a child to eat a vegetable with at least two meals a day then they will. I remember clearly when I was a child sitting at the table way after dinner was done because I didnt want to eat my veggies. But I eventually ate them,
Thats why I serve the veggies first, they eat those and then get something else. It has worked like a charm for me,
The 18 month old will eat an entire tomato in a sitting if I let him!

But thats JMO.