Dear mommies, we admire your patience in keeping up with mealtime drama! Nobody is more creative at making excuses than a kid trying to avoid their veggies. Dealing with picky eaters is not easy, and at times, it may feel like the only option is to force-feed your kids their veggies. However,this can make your kid form negative associations with mealtime, which leads to unhealthy eating habits in the long run. But there is a way around this, you can devise your meal plans in a way that your kids start to love eating their veggies!
Sounds impossible? Have some faith! We’re going to take you through some handy tips that will transform turbulent meal times into a much smoother ride.
- Switch things up:
Although Indian dishes are absolutely lip-smacking to us, a masala laden sabji might not hold the same appeal to your toddler. Try switching things up, cut some vegetables into slices for your kiddo to eat raw instead of cooking them into a dish. Hand them cucumber, carrot or capsicum slices as a snack. You could also prepare your veggies in different ways taking tips from different cuisines to see what works for you and your toddler.
- Presentation is key:
Kids are visual creatures. Part of what makes vegetables so icky to fussy eaters is the way they look on their plate. Putting a little extra effort in how you present veggies to them can make a huge difference! Try being creative and cutting them out in cute shapes or arranging them to make smiley faces. Soups and vegetable juices are a great, creative way to get fussy eaters to eat up too!
- Make it an interactive experience:
Try giving your kiddo a choice into what they want to eat for meal times. For example, have them pick out which vegetables they’d like to add to dishes like cutlets, kathi rolls or pasta. Instead of serving raw veggies alone, let them pick out dips that they like such as homemade sauces or hummus. You can also involve kids in your meal prep by having them mix, pour or sprinkle ingredients in. When they feel involved in the cooking process, they will automatically be more enthusiastic about mealtime!
- Eat with them:
Vegetables are definitely an important part of childhood nutrition, the problem lies in explaining this fact to your kids. They might not understand the importance of it by themselves, but if you lead by example they will be more likely to listen to you. Talk to them and educate them about why fruits and veggies are important for growing bodies. Read children’s books to them about veggies and healthy habits to explain the concept to them in a way that they can relate to. When you’re eating your favourite veggie snacks or dishes, sit by them while you eat to set an example. When they see you enjoying vegetables by yourself, they will definitely want in.
- Focus on their favourite dishes
Try incorporating vegetables into dishes that your kids already like. For example, if your kid likes paneer rolls, add peas, tomatoes and other complementary vegetables to it next time you make it. If you offer vegetables as an add-on to their favourite dishes, they’re more likely to enjoy eating them.
- Connect with them:
If you have a small kitchen garden, get your kids to be a part of picking and collecting vegetables from the garden. They will feel like little explorers and be eager to eat the vegetables that they picked. Similarly, if you involve them in the cooking process, they will feel a sense of pride in helping out and will feel more favourable towards their veggies.
- Accept what they don’t like:
If your child is consistently opposed to a certain vegetable, don’t try to force-feed it to them or sneak it into their food. Even kids have their taste preferences. As a parent, knowing the difference between a fussy refusal and a genuine dislike for a particular food is important. Try to reintroduce a disliked food after a period of one week has passed. After a few times doing this, if your kid still does not take to it, it’s time to accept their taste. There’s always plenty of other vegetables to choose from!
So, there you have it. By dealing with picky eaters with these tips, you can completely change your kid’s relationship with food. The bottom line is that your child shouldn’t be led to feel that vegetables are a necessary evil. Sneaking and tricking picky eaters into eating their veggies gives them a negative impression of vegetables. Sure, it will take some effort, but you’ll feel great knowing that you’ve aced at providing childhood nutrition to your kid!