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any tips for getting the kids to eat more veggies?

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Old 11-07-2005, 05:19 AM   #1
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Default any tips for getting the kids to eat more veggies?

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?
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Old 11-07-2005, 08:29 AM   #2
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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.
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:45 AM   #3
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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).

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Old 11-14-2005, 08:36 AM   #4
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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
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:40 PM   #5
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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).


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Old 11-14-2005, 05:36 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:12 AM   #7
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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.
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:24 AM   #8
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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.
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:21 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:29 PM   #10
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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!

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.
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Old 12-12-2005, 09:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colsnanny
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.
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Old 12-12-2005, 10:06 AM   #12
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LLV, my son did that, too, come to think of it. I persisted on serving vegetables, and eventually he started eating them again.
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Old 12-12-2005, 01:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantastica
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.
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:24 PM   #14
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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).
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:42 PM   #15
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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.
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