Help! My kids hate veggies!
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
Handy Hints for Fussy Eaters
Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends 2.5 serves of veggies, 1 serve of fruit for children aged 2-3 and 4.5 serves of veggies, 1.5 serves of fruit for children aged 4-8.
More often than not, it’s the veggies where little ones fall short of meeting their requirements. I have compiled a list of a few tips and tricks to get more nutrients into your kiddies diets.
* Consistency is key. Keep offering foods your child rejects. If they see a plate full of veggies and colour they will become accustomed to seeing it and eventually start trying it. They can’t escape veggies that keep appearing. Kids can be stubborn and have astounding resilience for tiny beings! It really is about playing the long game...you got this Mumma!
* Continuity–This is closely related to consistency; all plates being served up should look the same (not portion wise) but contain the same foods! That includes mum, dad and siblings. You really need to lead by example – Monkey see, Monkey do!! Continuity also applies when a flat out refusal occurs. Let them leave the table once everyone has finished eating. If they later complain of being hungry or wanting food again, offer the same meal. Continuously offer the same meal until it is mostly eaten. Long game, remember.
* Mini Master Chef! Get the kidskin the kitchen. Getting them involved in the cooking process gives them a sense of accomplishment. Even small tasks such as mixing or putting chopped up veggies in the pot gets them involved and gives them an understanding of what goes into putting a meal together. It also helps build a positive relationship with food.
* Find a favorite and build from there! Potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato is fairly popular. Find ways to incorporate these foods into your meals. Once your fussy eater has 3 or 4 base veggies there’s a lot you can do with that! And don't worry if your child is a little fruit bat but doesn't really like veggies. Fruit is AMAZING! Just keep offering, trying and building upon that delicious fruity base. You're doing great!
* Get dirty!– Grow your own veggies...if you’ve got room. Getting kids outdoors, involved in growing, picking and then cooking the vegetables. It's a great way to spark interest and understanding of natural foods. You are also setting up healthy foundations for their future. Name a child who doesn't like getting dirty outside, I'll wait....
* Phasing out Junk!– out with the old (junk) and in with the new! This can be a tricky process and I recommend phasing out gradually & not cutting out treats completely. This is important... phase out junk gradually, sugar/sodium withdrawals can be brutal, for everyone! but minimising junk food is essential to getting your child become accustomed to the taste and smells of wholesome foods. Serve some of your child’s favorites foods in conjunction with vegetables. Example: if your child loves chicken nuggets put the veggies on the plate with the nuggets and alternate a nugget with a mouthful of veggies (remember the ones they like). Gradually phase out by adding fewer nuggets and more veggies on the plate each time. Also, I hate to demonise the humble chicken nugget...you can make a delicious, healthy home made version with chicken breast baked in the oven!
* Before dinner– if your child is most hungry before dinner, instead of making them wait, offer chopped up raw veggies or salad (maybe with some hummus) for them to pick at while they wait.
* Communicate– Educate them that food is so much greater than taste. Teach your child about where their food comes from, how it is made, the impact it has on the environment and about food wasting. I teach my son that the food we eat contains messages or information it sends to our brain, cells, muscles & bones. It helps them move and grow, run faster, jump higher and be happier but when we eat junk food it sends confusing messages to our body that make us tired, grumpy or more hungry.
* Hide those Veggies! This is nothing new but it is something we can get way more creative with. We all know about grating veggies and hiding them in spaghetti bolognaise – which is still awesome and a regular at our dinner table! But thinking outside the square is where the magic happens! Search for my Chocolate Chickpea Brownies, they taste amazing, are kid approved AND they count towards your kiddies daily veggie intake!! You're welcome!
* Patience! As with everything raising children is a marathon, not a sprint! They are constantly testing the boundaries and trying to push our buttons! Patience is the key to turning fussy eaters around. Patience and commitment is what will get results. And don't be hard on yourself. You're doing a fantastic job ❤️