As most parents know, many young children will declare that they don’t like, or even hate, to eat vegetables. With dining at fast food restaurants on the rise and families eating home-cooked meals less and less, not eating healthfully has become the exception, not the rule. A rise in the number of obese Americans is extremely concerning to many of us. Many families are making attempts to eat healthier and more nutritiously cooked meals, but many children still don’t want to eat their vegetables!
Part of the reason children refuse to eat their vegetables could be simply out of habit, but it
could also be that they actually have an aversion to the taste of some vegetables. You may end up resorting to punishment or bribery as a means to force your child to eat all you’ve put on their plate. I know a mother who, because she was so frustrated, forcibly put food into her child’s mouth, then made the child swallow. He would then vomit onto the dinner table. This caused the family enormous distress, so, eventually, she allowed the child to eat what she liked.
Later, the family found out the child had extreme sensitivity to the bitter taste of certain vegetables; they found a solution to the child’s problem by using some simple ideas that would help to make the vegetables taste better to her. This particular child loved peaks. Her mother began to prepare pizza with pita bread as the base; she introduced pureed carrot by adding it to the sauce. Eventually, she served him whole carrots sautéed in butter and honey.
The mother also introduced sweet potato into the child’s mashed potato. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A. Zucchini can be quite bland and is not generally liked by many children. A trick to adding zucchini to your child’s diet is to put it in home-baked muffins. It helps to be as creative as you possibly can. Don’t serve plain peas or carrots; add chicken stock, some cornstarch, and a little butter to make a tasty sauce many kids will enjoy on their vegetables.
Help to make your child’s healthy eating as enjoyable and non-threatening as possible. It’s best to keep the television off during mealtime; this will help to increase communication among family members, and hopefully allow everyone to enjoy themselves at the table. Remember not to rush this process. It’s best not to try to introduce everything at once and this will definitely not be an overnight process.
There are other ideas you can try as well. Allow your children to help you choose the produce when you go grocery shopping. Teach them about the process of growing and obtaining vegetables. Include snacks and school lunches in your child’s nutritional education by sending bags of dried fruit mixed with raw, unsalted nuts as an alternative to sweet cakes or candy bars. You will find that your children will actually enjoy these nutritional and tasty treats and you and your child will be headed in the right nutritional direction!