6 Tips for getting your kids to eat more veggies
One of the main frustrations I hear from parents is how do I get my kids to eat more vegetables? Whilst we know how nutritious vegetables are for our kids, it is often a real struggle to get them to even come close to meeting their recommended daily serves.
So how do you get your kids to eat more vegetables? Below are some of my favourite tips which I hope you will find useful for getting some more vegetables into your child’s diet.
So how many serves of vegetables per day should my child be eating?
- 7-12 months: at least 1.5 serves
- 13-23 months: at least 2 serves
- 2-3 years: 2.5 serves
- 4-8 years: 4.5 serves
- 9-11 years: 5 serves
- 12-18 years (girls): 5 serves
- 12-18 years (boys): 5.5 serves
What is a serve?
A standard serve is 75g or:
- ½ cup cooked vegetables (e.g. broccoli, carrots, pumpkin)
- 1 cup raw salad vegetables (e.g. leafy greens)
- ½ cup cooked, dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
- ½ cup sweet corn
- ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (e.g. sweet potato, taro or cassava)
- 1 medium tomato
For 7-12 months a serve is equivalent to 20g.
My 6 Tips for getting your kids eating more vegetables
1. Be a positive role-model
Children learn from their parents as well as their siblings. If they see you eating vegetables they are more likely to want to try them. Even if you’re not a big vegetable eater make sure you switch up your vegetables and offer a couple of different vegetables each meal so your child gets familiar with the appearance, smell, texture and flavour of different vegetables.
2. Keep exposing your child to different vegetables
It is super important to keeping persisting and offering vegetables at meal and snack times. We know that it can take up to 10-15 times of being offered a new food before they will accept and eat it. When introducing vegetables especially to toddlers and younger children I recommend starting with a very small portion to not overwhelm them. If your child is a bit apprehensive to try the vegetable on offer it can help to let them first become familiar with it by exploring what it looks, smells and feels like. Then if they are comfortable you can encourage them to have a lick or take a bite, but let them know they don’t have to swallow it if they don’t want to.
3. Get your child involved in shopping and cooking
Toddlers and young children in particular like to test the boundaries and to have some independence when it comes to food choices. When you are shopping give them a choice of what vegetables they would like. Depending on your child’s age it is also great if you can get them in the kitchen helping to prepare and cook with vegetables. For younger children they can help with tasks such as washing the vegetables, putting them into the steamer/pan before cooking or placing into their sandwich or on a pita bread for a healthy pizza. For older children they can also help with peeling and chopping the vegetables.
4. Grow a veggie garden
Veggie gardens are fantastic for teaching your child where vegetables come from. They are also more likely to eat them if they have helped grow them. Let them choose what they would like to grow and get them to help with planting, watering and picking the vegetables.
5. Offer vegetables for snacks
Offering vegetables for snacks are a great way to get more of them into their diet. Try keeping some cut up vegetables sticks (e.g. celery, carrot, cucumber, capsicum) in a container in the fridge or a small bowl of cherry tomatoes washed on the bench all ready to eat. To make vegetable sticks a bit more exciting serve them with some dip (e.g. hummus, tzatziki), cheese or nut spread.
6. Add vegetables into your meals
Another good strategy for getting more vegetables into your child’s diet is adding grated or finely chopped vegetables into pasta sauces, soups and casseroles. However it is important to be aware that hiding the vegetables will not change how your child feels about eating vegetables so make sure you are still offering them separately so they can learn to get more familiar with their taste and texture.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Please reach out if you would like more assistance with strategies to help overcome your child’s picky eating.