As adults we know just how important it is that we get our greens and our fruit in our diet. We know that it’s here that we get the all-important minerals and nutrients that ensure we have strong bones, that ensure we have healthy teeth and nails, and that help us to avoid getting colds and other illnesses by keeping our immune system strong.
However the unfortunate fact is that kids don’t know all this as well, and that they only really see vegetables and fruit as a frustrating obstacle to getting their pudding. This is the reason for the age old war between kids and parents that come every dinner time and makes meals a lot more dragged out and a lot less pleasant than they otherwise could be.
Here we will look at how to keep your kids happily eating their greens so that you can avoid a fight and keep them healthy and strong.
Don’t Make a Big Deal of It
One mistake a lot of parents make is to make a big deal of their children eating their greens and to draw a lot of attention to them in the process. If you say to your children ‘make sure you eat all your greens’ before they have even started eating, then this is only going to have the effect of making them not want to at all; no one ever wants to do something they’re told to do…
Likewise if they really don’t want to eat something then there’s no point in absolutely forcing them to or making them sit there for hours – it’s not worth it for one last carrot and all it will do is scar them and completely put off vegetables forever. Let them win some battles, as long as you win the war…
Mix Them In
At the same time you can easily trick your children into eating a lot of fruits and vegetables without them really being aware if you mix them into bigger meals. Stews for instance are ideal ways to sneak the veg into their diet, and this way even if they are crafty and decide to try and eat around the vegetables, they will still get a lot of goodness simply from the gravy and the sauce which will have absorbed some of the nutrients and goodness – let’s see them wriggle out of that one!
Likewise you can also include fruit and vegetables in other ways that are less obvious – for instance you can put fruit onto your children’s morning cereal (bananas or strawberries for instance) and you can even include it in deserts – like meringue but with sliced fruits on top. This way they will actually look forward to their fruit.
Think Outside the Box
If your child absolutely loathes the sight of broccoli then there’s no point in having an unpleasant stand off every night – dinner time should be an enjoyable time for the whole family. Instead then concede to the vegetables they don’t like, and instead think about using some of the fruit they maybe don’t know about next time. Maybe you could have some aubergine or some cauliflower, or some swede. There must be something they like… right?
Change the Presentation
Meanwhile you might also find that they simply don’t like the vegetables the way you’re doing them. If they won’t eat cauliflower for instance, then they may eat cheesy cauliflower. Likewise if they don’t like carrots, then try grated carrot with suede.
And in general grating things is a great way to get your children to eat them. So they won’t eat the carrots in your bolognaise? Then try just grating the carrot on top of the spag and they won’t even be able to see it. Likewise you can blend fruits up into a juice, or you can even give them soup or ice cream with the nutrition too finely chopped to see.
Don’t Be Fooled
Don’t be fooled last of all by foods and particularly puddings that claim to be one of your children’s five a day. Very rarely is this true, and even if it is it probably won’t contain the same fiber content. Real fruit and veg is always preferable to things claiming to have the same benefits.