Vegetables are an essential part of any diet – especially for a growing child. They contain essential nutrients that are vital for their overall health, growth and development. The high fiber content fills them up so they're not looking to satisfy their hunger with sweets and processed foods. The fiber-protein sends a signal to the brain to stop eating and helps children recognize when they're hungry and when they're not.
Veggies also require much chewing, which forces kids to eat slower, contributes to healthy digestion and prevents overeating. Many calories are actually burned simply through the process of eating and digesting vegetables.
Good carbs are packed into vegetables. In fact, veggies are among the healthiest carbohydrates children can eat. The combination of protein and fiber even steadies the blood sugar.
The vibrant colors in the veggies comes from phytonutrients. These natural ingredients boost a child's immune system by fighting off germs, much like colostrum. With children being in constant contact with germs at school, veggies are a great way to naturally protect their systems.
Despite all of these fantastic benefits that vegetables have to offer, some children just aren't a fan of the way they taste. A chocolate cupcake always looks better than a stalk of broccoli or a handful of carrots. Therefore, parents must get a little sneaky if they want their kids to eat a little healthier. Here are a few ways to get those vegetables out of your fridge and into your child's tummy:
Use the right terminology
If you're referring to these green foods as vegetables, children are going to equate that with yucky taste. But if you change up the terminology, you may have better luck in getting them to eat their veggies. Parenting.com suggested referring to them as "grow foods." This can help reinforce a child's love for them because it relates eating healthy with growing big and strong – something every kid wants.
Offer veggies when they're hungry
If a child is hungry, they'll eat. Give them something they can easily snack on like baby carrots, cucumbers or red bell peppers. Amp up the taste with some hummus or low-fat salad dressing that they'll love to dip their vegetables in!
Let them decide
Bring your child grocery shopping with you and let them peruse the produce section for foods that they want to try out. They may like something for its color or shape and be more willing to snack on it.
Hold dessert hostage
Children sure do love their sweets. Therefore, if you let them know that they can't have dessert without finishing their veggies first, they may be more likely to clean their plate.
You could be sneaky and include vegetables in smoothies and other recipes. Use a blender or juicer to grind them up and make them invisible to the eye and taste buds. The sweetness of the fruit will overpower the veggie taste – your kids will never know!
Include children in the prep work
When preparing the vegetables, have your child help out by washing them while you cut them into bite sized pieces that will be easy to snack on.