Happy second annual Kids Eat Right Month! With childhood obesity widespread across the country, promotion of a healthy, active lifestyle among children is of the utmost importance. Obesity is commonly associated with conditions, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, which can interrupt a normal childhood and predispose children for debilitating chronic diseases in adulthood. Education on nutritious cooking and eating is vital for the health of both children and their parents, and in the home, families are encouraged to incorporate the Kids Eat Right core principles, “Shop smart, cook healthy, and eat right,” into their everyday routine.
Unfortunately, kids are not always enthusiastic about all parts of a healthy diet, and in particular, it can be difficult for children to enjoy eating their vegetables if they do not make regular appearances at meals. Luckily, with a little hands-on experience and parental role modeling, children can learn to love their veggies!
Check out these 5 tips for getting your child excited about vegetables. Feel free to spread the word to local schools, community groups, and other families to make sure that the kids eat right all year round.
1. Grow your own vegetables.
Make a spot at home to plant some vegetable seeds. If you do not have a yard for a garden, large flower pots will also do the trick for produce like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, or herbs. Having your kids participate in daily watering and growth monitoring will give them a sense of ownership, and they will be proud and excited when their work has finally paid off in the form of a vegetable to enjoy at their next family dinner.
2. Make grocery shopping a team effort.
As you wander through the produce section at the supermarket, take your time. Allow your kids to ask questions and select new vegetables to try at home. If you are shopping at a farmers market, interact with the farmers themselves, and have them talk to you about their produce. Many farmers may even let yourself and your curious child taste a sample or two on the spot!
3. Cook meals together.
Involve your child in the preparation of healthy meals rich in vegetables and fruits. Since they had a role in their creation, your kids will actually want to taste the dishes and see how they turned out! Furthermore, when children realize that their cooking was successful, they will feel a sense of accomplishment and a boost in self-confidence, and the chance that they will want to cook more healthy meals with you in the future will increase.
4. Play with your food.
Make hands-on meals and snacks a regular part of your household routine, and eating healthy vegetables and fruits will suddenly feel like fun! Have a make-your-own pizza night where your child can use cut vegetables to add a silly face to their pie. Assemble fresh fruit kabobs for breakfast, and dip into low-fat yogurt. You can also use this same concept for a family lunch or dinner by serving grilled vegetable kabobs alongside bean burgers or hamburgers.
5. Eat healthy meals and snacks together.
Before your child will be interested in giving vegetables a try, you first need to act excited about eating them yourself! Children model the behavior of their parents, whether it be desirable or undesirable, and if they see you turning up your nose at the sight of vegetables, they will believe that is what they should be doing too. Make an effort to sit down together with your child and eat healthy meals and snacks containing a variety of different fruits and vegetables. By allowing your child to see you consuming and enjoying vegetables, they will be more likely to eat them along with you as well.