Another very frequent question people ask me is, “How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?”
Firstly, my kids are normal kids – they will usually choose junk food, pizza, hamburgers, meat and chocolate biscuits OVER ANY KIND OF VEGETABLE.
But the fact that they will happily eat raw carrot sticks, raw snow peas, munch on lettuce, dip celery sticks into hummus, eat broccoli florets, raw sprouts, avocados and capsicums – well, it kinda freaks people out a bit.
So I’ve written up a few tips on how to get your kids to eat vegetables :
1) Start them young
Offer them a wide variety of vegetables at a young age, and offer them at EVERY MEAL TIME, including snack time. Some of my kid’s favourites were carrot sticks, peas, corn off the cob, broccoli, cooked chick peas.
2) Limit the salty / sugary foods
This is pretty obvious. If they eat lots of salty / sugary foods regularly, of course they’re going to balk at the taste of a bland carrot stick.
3) Get them involved with cooking and preparing meals
Kids can watch you cut up vegetables and sort them by colour or size. They can wash potatoes. They can help grow tomatoes and herbs. Throw some beans into a glass with a bit of cotton wool and water at the bottom. They can make vegetable faces for a snack. Make a meal plan, then a shopping list, get them to help you buy the food, prepare the food and eat the food!
4) Eat vegetables YOURSELF!
If the kids see YOU snacking on raw vegetables, then they are more likely give it a go too.
5) Change your attitudes towards vegetables and the kids will too
Most people don’t realise it, but they have different attitudes towards different foods.
As I grew up in a Chinese household, we were brought up with notions like:
“The meat dish is the main meal, everything else is a side dish.”
“A dinner is not complete without a meat dish.”
“Meat must be served to guests, or we will look incompetent and poor.”
“Meat is tasty. Vegetables are not.”
“A proper Chinese banquette must have AT LEAST beef, pork, chicken, duck, fish and prawns.”
It took me many years to shake off those ideas!
Years ago, I never ate raw snow peas. I thought it was a bit strange. I preferred them cooked Chinese style – quickly tossed in a hot pan, dark green, warm and still crunchy.
My husband ate them raw. On the weekends, he’d take the kids to the fruit and vegetable market, and buy a bag full of snow peas. Then he’d come home and sit on the couch and MUNCH ON THEM LIKE CHIPS. Weirdo. It was like eating raw bok choy – so wrong.
But then after some weeks, I noticed the kids joining in and eating them too. They were helping themselves, and grabbing huge handfuls. They were even fighting over who had the biggest snow pea. They would clean out the whole bag in minutes – with each kid eating something like 20 raw snow peas for afternoon tea.
I couldn’t believe it.
So I started to join in. And now we have a snow pea party after visiting the green grocer. And I LOVE raw snow peas now, can’t get enough of them! I even grow them in my garden so I can eat them fresh!
I guess the point is, if you eat raw vegetables as if they are the most normal thing in the world, your kids will grow up thinking the same.
I keep imagining what would happen if my husband bought home a bag of potato chips instead!
I also wrote : What Should Kids Eat Each Day?