Get your picky eater to enjoy vegetables!
By: Kanika Hughes, Chef & Nutritionist, Leela’s lunches
We all know vegetables are essential for good health, and it can feel like you are failing at your parenting duty if your child doesn’t get his 5-a-day. The majority of our clients complain that even though the include veggies in every meal, their picky eaters flat out refuse to try them. So what’s a well-intentioned parent to do?
Things to avoid:
- Making them clean their plate
- Making them eat their veggies so they can get dessert
- Hiding veggies in different foods and lying about them being there
- Bribing your child to eat veggies
- Begging your child to eat veggies
These methods result in more tension at mealtime and can be damaging to the parent- child relationship. One study asked adults whether they eat foods now that they were forced to eat as a child, and 72% said that they won’t!* So even if you get them to eat those foods in the moment, chances are they won’t be enjoying it now or in the future.
Here’s what to do:
Have patience: Many picky eaters need to see a veggie at a meal MANY times before they are ready to try it!
Offer a tiny taste: Start with a grain-of-rice sized portion of a new veggie at a meal. They can always have more if they (miraculously) eat and like it!
Include them in prep and cooking: Touching the veggie when you ask for your child’s help to prepare it is a big win in reducing the fear factor of new veggies.
Condiments are great: There’s nothing a little ketchup or maple syrup can’t fix! Don’t stress about the added sugar in these items, if they are helping the greater good of getting a picky eater to try new vegetables.
Start with kid friendly veggies:
Feeding thousands of toddlers for 4 years, we at Leela’s lunches have become experts at kid friendly veggies and how to prepare them in appealing ways. Here’s our top tip: Mild, sweet tasting veggies are the best way to start. Cucumber, carrots, shredded lettuce, red bell peppers, peas, corn, spinach (especially in smoothies and popsicles) and cauliflower (adds creaminess without any noticeable flavour). Consider adding a little butter and maple syrup to enhance the natural sweetness of these veggies- nothing wrong with making veg more appealing when kids are learning to like them!
Leela’s Lunches is available at woo-hoo!, a state-of-the-art children’s museum where we provide your child with an engaging space that enables them to acquire new knowledge. Our dedicated cafe, The Nest, offers nutritious snacks and treats at all times. Enjoy a healthy meal from Leela’s lunches, or various other snacks that is prepared fresh on a daily basis, keeping you and your little one in mind.