My husband and I love to eat healthy, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for our kids. My girls, now pushing those dreaded teenage years, are finally starting to expand their palates to include salads, snap peas and hummus. However, they were absolute terrors when they were younger. As toddlers, their favorite food groups were grease and sugar - and heaven help you if you tried to get them to eat anything else. We could get them to gnaw on carrots and broccoli, but if we tried to make them choke down even a brussel sprout we were in for a miserable evening.
I worry a little that my lenience about vegetables during their formative years has turned them into picky eaters. Now that I'm expecting again (better late than never, right?), I don't want that to be the case for our new baby. So I decided to go online and start looking for tips on how to get your kids to eat the vegetables that their bodies - and palates - need. I found all sorts of advice about how and when to start your kids on healthy food - and even some tips on how to get my teenagers to change their ways. But I want to know what you guys think. If your kids were finicky eaters, how did you get them to eat their veggies?
To kick start the conversation, here are a few tricks I researched that I think might be helpful:
"Switch In" Healthy Foods. The gist of this trick is that you're supposed to replace dietary staples like spaghetti and sausage with healthier alternatives like spaghetti squash and tofu links. I can see how it would be effective, but is tricking your kids really going to open them up to vegetables in their diet? I worry that after discovering they've been hoodwinked into eating something healthy, kids will feel betrayed and further distance themselves from vegetables.
Take Them Shopping. I like this idea. If your young children get the chance to create their own salad or meal out of whatever catches their eye in a grocery store, they'll probably be more willing to try new things. Granted, a combo of asparagus and strawberries might make for an interesting dinner, but if it gets them to eat new things then I'm all for it.I definitely want to see what the baby can come up with once he's about three and his stomach can handle the experiment.
Nickname the Food. My sister insists that the only reason her kids love broccoli and cauliflower is because she told them they were tiny trees when they were younger. They played this dinner game called "Lumberjack" where she would load the plate with broccoli and cauliflower and tell her kids that it was a forest. They had to try and "chop down all the trees" and if they did they would grow up to be big and strong like Paul Bunyan. Sometimes I think parents of boys have it easy....
Blend It Up. I don't necessarily agree with sneaking vegetables into a kid's diet, but if you can mix in some veggies with their approval then why not? I remember my girls actually liked it when I blended up a carrot as part of a fruit smoothie or added refried beans to their quesadillas. If anything, my biggest fault was that I didn't experiment enough to see what new foods I could get them to try.
So these are a few of the tricks I've got lined up now. What do you guys think? How did you get your kids to eat healthy when they were young?