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Vegetables are vital in people’s diets. Unfortunately, they are children’s biggest enemies. Hence, it’s imperative that parents learn effective ways to encourage kids to eat vegetables.

Both children and adults prefer to eat what they’re familiar with. Being a picky eater isn’t dependent on age, as anyone, young or old, can be fussy about what they consume.

But things become so much more complicated on children’s plates.

Unlike adults who have alternatives to supplement the nutrition they’re finicky about, children can be overly particular and closed off even to these substitutes. It’s incredibly challenging to achieve a balanced and healthy diet with children and their strict palates. Regardless of how colorful or appetizing the dish prepared may be, getting them excited about it would still be a monumental task. Although it’s every parent’s responsibility to encourage kids to eat vegetables, they shouldn’t feel alone.

Ways to Encourage Kids to Eat Vegetables

Parents need more than excellent plating and exciting shapes and colors to encourage kids to eat vegetables. For picky eaters, it might require more psychological effort to shape better choices.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that getting kids to eat their needed vegetables and fruits all boils down to repetition. The more they’re exposed to a certain food, the more open and accepting they become. Hence, regardless of whether they won’t like it the first time, parents shouldn’t feel discouraged and go back to their usual menu. Instead, they should continue to expose and encourage kids to eat vegetables.

Here are some effective ways:

Set a Good Example

Children learn from what they observe. So, the best way to encourage kids to eat vegetables is by letting them see adults enjoying themselves. This is when bonding moments are most integral in shaping and developing this behavior. Family meals can teach children about healthy eating. Not only can they attempt to prepare these meals, but they can also enjoy them while having fun with the whole family.

Make Vegetables Fun

Parents shouldn’t only focus on elevating the experience but also adjusting what they’re preparing to fit their children’s preferences better. If kids enjoy eating sweets, parents can prepare vegetables that are on the sweeter side, like bell peppers or carrots. They can also adjust how these are cooked, like roasting or caramelizing them.

For instance, in most of the delicious dish recipes in Gaccetta’s book, the author introduces parents to meals that not only beautify vegetables to children’s eyes but also make them more flavorful. Vegetables don’t lose their nutrition when they’re prepared with more flavoring. Instead, this will only improve how children will experience them.

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Avoid Camouflaging Them

There’s no better way to break children’s trust and discourage them further than through deception. If parents encourage kids to eat vegetables by presenting them as something else, this isn’t cut out for long-term success. Instead, they should learn to love vegetables as how they are. This won’t only be a firm way of introducing food into children’s routines but also foster a healthy relationship between children and eating vegetables.

Parents can learn countless child-friendly recipes to make vegetables edible for children without having to parade them as something else.

Explain What to Expect

Children won’t eat something unfamiliar, more so a highly foreign food to their routine. If they’re being introduced to vegetables for the first time, parents must tell them about it. It’s similar to avoiding deception but for a long-term duration. Children must know they will be eating vegetables from then on out so they will experience lower levels of anxiety or worry. This makes the food less aversive than it could be from their perspective.

Get Them Involved in the Process

Similar to building behavior through good memories, children learn to love food when they’re involved with the preparation process. To encourage kids to eat more vegetables, parents must first encourage them to partake in the shopping and cooking processes.

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Children can be brought to grocery stores to shop and choose their own produce if they can. Parents can better introduce and persuade their kids to try how the vegetables taste by sparking their interest in how the vegetables look. In addition to bringing them to the produce section, children can also help in the kitchen or at least watch how the meals are prepared.

With time, involvement will bring children closer to taking an interest in eating vegetables.

Praise Them When They Try

Encouraging them to eat vegetables may be very exhausting. Parents want nothing but their children to develop healthier habits, but the process of doing so will be frustrating. This may lead to them being more forceful, scolding their kids when they don’t. This isn’t the right approach. Instead, parents should use a more positive tone to encourage kids to eat vegetables. If they’re praised more often than scolded, children will be more likely to become more open to the experience.

Overall, experience plays a more significant role in encouraging children to eat healthier. Hence, parents should take on the challenge with an open mind and a bigger heart.

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