Saturday, February 11, 2012

Getting Children to Eat Vegetables

There are several ways of getting our child to eat fruit and vegetables, but you should think carefully about why your child doesn't like them; is it the texture, or the flavour or just the appearance that is unappealing? Think back to when you were young, while your parents might have forced you to eat a particular vegetable, why didn't you like it? You may love things like asparagus and brussel sprouts now and cabbage too, but did you when you were a child? Perhaps not. Our tastes change as we grow older, but there is not much point in trying to get a child to eat a strong-flavoured vegetable when others might be more palatable.

Try taking your child shopping and if he or she shows an interest in an exotic fruit or vegetable, buy it and get the child to taste it, after all the curiosity was there, so it may be to the child's taste. You may have to learn how to cook it if it is a 'new' vegetable. But you can enlist your child's help in the kitchen. Children who cook will take more of an interest in what they have produced than in whatever you have cooked for them. They can cook baby carrots or corn under supervision and can learn how to make a dip for these veggies too. You can try hummus, made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and sesame seeds, as this often appeals to children.

Buy fresh peas in their shells and ask your child to help you prepare them. When children are involved vegetables become less alien to them. Do the same with broad beans, and get your child to help prepare French or green beans too.

You can get your child to juice carrots and beets and make their own fresh fruit smoothies. I have never known a child refuse strawberries, or a banana, and if you pretend that you are monkeys, bananas usually go down well. You can nibble on carrots and lettuce like a rabbit with younger children and work your way through things that you can honestly claim that animals can eat. If you can make a game of eating children usually respond positively.

Buy a recipe book for kids and start allowing your child into the kitchen to cook under supervision of course. You can sit with your child and create a menu on the understanding that everyone will eat the food that has been cooked. Encourage your child to make a face with vegetables- red tomato or pepper strips for a mouth, a piece of cucumber for the nose, small radishes for the eyes and grated carrots for hair, with hard boiled eggs for ears for example.

A study undertaken at University College London by Lucy Cooke et al in 2010 found that children who were rewarded for eating fruit and vegetables, either with a lot of praise or a sticker, actually continued to eat the vegetables and like them even when the reward was no longer forthcoming. This may not be the ideal way of getting your child to eat fruit and vegetables but it seems to work.

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