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Who is the picky eater in your family? Is it one of the parents? Is it the child? Or all the above? Three years ago, a close friend of mind once told me if you are not eating vegetables, then don’t expect your kids to do the same. Turns out it was the reality check I needed to take the first step towards change. I have witnessed first hand the fights, the tantrums, the food thrown to the ground because my children did not like eating vegetables.
I have been a picky eater since as long as I can remember. So in the mission of helping my kids, I knew I had to change my ways too. Change did not happen overnight, but it was a gradual process that took persistence and lots of repetition. We made it our family mission to make it fun, and help mom and dad eat more vegetables!
Add three vegetables to your pizza!
Everything is better when you make pizza! A great way to hide veggies is to mix it into the tomato sauce and season with garlic. We also picked our top three favorite vegetables, cut them as finely as possible and add them as toppings. Did you know there is something called cauliflower pizza? It is a family favorite! And we recently found out that we can even make broccoli pizza too!
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Add them to your smoothies!
This is the more popular option and for us has ensured the veggies were going to get eaten (or drank in this case). To ensure that my kids were getting a good dose of vegetables, I would blend them into our smoothies with fruits. The sweetness of the fruits really helps mask the taste of vegetables. Lately we love adding carrots, spinach, and even frozen cauliflower rice in our smoothies. If you add avocado, it helps make your smoothies really creamy too. Make sure you have a good blender so that everything mixes well. My girls ask for smoothies all the time and you can choose the liquid of your preference as a base.
Eat more vegetables AND read about them!
Applied knowledge is power! What I quickly learned in my family, is that my oldest daughter who loves to read, also loves information. She is very curious! At 6 years old now she wants to know where everything comes from including her vegetables.
Sometimes telling kids and even adults that vegetables are good for you is not always enough to encourage consumption of this food group. But if you explain to your child, for example, how carrots are great for the eyes and a great source of fiber, it starts to build an understanding of why it is so important to eat our carrots.
The last time we went to the Miami’s Children Museum– they had a health and wellness exhibit. There was a game that educated and asked children questions about what they were learning. Learning what foods were a GO food vs. WHOA food was a huge light bulb moment for my kids. That simple explanation really helped drive the message home of what foods are necessary to help in fueling our bodies to function optimally. Since then she always asks me if the foods we eat are GO food, Whoa food, or Slow food.
Have fun with your food!
Presentation matters so making a rainbow of fruits and vegetables can make it appealing for your picky eater. Making it a family affair! On movie nights you can make a platter with a bowl of popcorn and also serve their favorite vegetables with a side of dip. Having your child involved in the cooking process can help motivate them to eat what they have made. So have your kids involved in the cooking process or putting together the plate.
You can even make it into a game! The more vegetables our child eats, the more points they earn. Maybe they could even get a prize (something that is not food related) after eating consistently for month.
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Lead by example and don’t give up!
Show them how it’s done! Children learn by the example’s parents set. Eat the way you want them to eat and show enthusiasm. At every meal, load up your plate with vegetables and let them know how much you are enjoying it. I learned that the more I ate my vegetables in front of my girls, the more curious they became about what I was eating. It most certainly not an overnight win, but it was a battle I eventually won!
Even though there are parents who love vegetables but their kids are still picky, don’t give up! Research says it takes 8 to 15 times to introduce a new food before your child will accept it. For so many of us, we tend to offer the food 3 to 5 times before deciding a child will never like it. Keep being persistent, don’t give up and show them how it’s done!
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Did you know that on June 17th it is National Eat your vegetables day? That’s right! There is even a day to celebrate eating more vegetables- who knew! This is a great day to celebrate by eating your daily allowance of vegetables which is about 3 to 5 servings a day. And of course get creative as a family and come up with a delicious way to enjoy your veggies. Have fun with your food and celebrate!