Ask any parent about things they find challenging and you will undoubtedly hear that getting their kids to eat vegetables is a huge source of frustration. Although this battle of getting kids to eat veggies is nothing new, it seems as if the problem is getting even worse these days as more and more quick, processed foods are served up in busy households. There are some techniques available to parents, however, that can help even the most stubborn child get their daily servings of vegetables:
No dessert until the greens are gone
This is an oldie but a goodie and can be highly effective for some kids. Kids get no dessert or treats until they have eaten the required amount of vegetables. While this may not faze some kids, it can work wonders on kids that love dessert. The key with this approach is being disciplined and consistent.
Make the vegetable the first dish or side served.
Research has shown that people tend to eat most of the first part of a meal. You can make eating the vegetables a prerequisite to eating the main course or other parts of the meal. The added benefit of this approach is that as kids fill up on veggies, they have less room for other portions of the meal that are not as nutritionally dense. In other words, if you serve a side of broccoli first, then a child may have less room to fill up on the fatty pork chops or sugar-filled dessert.
Serve vegetables and veggie dishes as snacks.
The reality is that it doesn't matter which meal kids eat their veggies at, what matters is that they are getting the necessary nutrition on a daily basis. Vegetables can make wonderful snacks that even the most anti-vegetable kid will love. Broccoli and cheese, hummus, and celery and peanut butter are all good examples.
Use more vegetables in main dishes.
This one is a no-brainer. By simply making more vegetable-rich dishes you can help ensure that your kids are getting more of the good stuff. Kids often won't even know they are eating vegetables and therefore will offer no resistance. Things like broccoli-stuffed chicken, macaroni and cheese with added broccoli or spinach, and spinach lasagna are all good examples. Do not be afraid to get creative in your cuisine and look for dishes to "slip" veggies into.
The reality is that food quality has gone down significantly in recent years as more processed foods have been introduced to the modern diet. While these four simple techniques can be highly effective, it is important that you use any means necessary to get your kids to eat more vegetables. Your children will thank you when they grow up healthy and strong :)