March 16, 2021
Smart hacks to make your family eat more veggies
by Mona Jauhar RDN, LD
Turns out kids aren’t the only picky eaters. Nine out of 10 kids in the US aren't getting enough veggies, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the same is true for us grown-ups. The whole “eat a rainbow” philosophy hasn’t appealed to the majority of people. Most still gravitate towards beiges and whites and not the entire spectrum of colourful antioxidant rich fruits and veggies. If you are struggling to make your family love veggies too, here are some fun ways to start with:
- Participation is key: From taking your kids to the weekly farmers market to getting them more involved in the kitchen, there are many ways to get them associate better with food. Introduce them to the variety of vegetables available in different seasons, tell them about their culinary history, their health benefits and heirloom recipes attached to them. And never underestimate the power of growing something. If you plant some cherry tomatoes and watch them grow together, you'll feel that connection to your food, and your family will be much more inclined to sample what they grew.
- Be innovative: Lets face it, nobody likes to eat boring looking and tasting veggies. A delicious stir fry or a cheesy veg casserole outdo steamed veggies any day. A little cheese here and there doesn’t hurt. Make it fun. Kids love to eat veggies when they can dip them in a flavorful dip or sauce, such as hummus, ranch dip, fruit salsa, guacamole, or nut butter. Incorporate more vegetables into a favorite dish. Add veggies to dishes your kids already like, like burgers, pizza, or noodles. This could also be a great way to make them try a new vegetable.
- Stop camouflaging: Contrary to what most mothers think, disguising and feeding veggies to kids doesn’t let them connect to their food in the real sense. Instead, make the veggies visible. Put small bowls of veggies out for lunch, dinner, and snacks so your family members are more likely to add them to their plate. It may take 10 or more exposures to a food before children feel comfortable trying and accepting it, say experts. Just keep offering the vegetable at different meals and in different ways without pressuring your family to taste it or like it.
- Have Them Eat Veggies First: Even the most insipid veggies taste good when famished. Waiting until your family is really famished to serve up a pile of vegetables—carrots, celery, cucumbers, and red peppers—might do the trick. Serve delicious, colorful veggies at the start of the meal when everyone is really hungry.
- Prep ahead: You can’t whip up magic in the kitchen everyday. It takes time and effort. So make sure you do the extra cutting, chopping and packing on the weekends. Prepare sauces, gravies, dips and dressings and store away in the fridge to be used with vegetables through the week.
- Make it a family thing: Believe it or not, parents are the biggest influence on their child's eating habits. So what's on your plate determines what's going to be on your daughter's or son's plate. Be a veggie hero and set a good example for your kids.