Tips for parents and grandparents to get kids to eat more vegetables

11 Ways to Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS CAN USE THESE TIPS TO GET KIDS TO EAT MORE VEGETABLES

 Parents and grandparents alike want to know how to get kids to eat more vegetables. It was the number one question my clients asked me when I was a pediatric dietitian over 20 years ago. Since then, the quest to find ways to get more vegetables into children has grown steadily.

I knew we had reached the tipping point after reading the results of a survey done by a major frozen vegetable company a few years ago.  They found parents thought their children had a greater chance of becoming president of the United States than eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day! I can’t find a link to the study, but the results stuck with me.

Are Vegetables and Obesity Linked?

I remember wondering at the time if this was a global problem? Have children around the world suddenly started turning up their noses at turnips? And if so, is there a link between the aversion to vegetables among children today and the growing rates of obesity?

My professional instincts told me it wasn’t that simple. Modern lifestyles have changed dramatically since the dawn of the “Information/Digital Age” in the late 70’s. The impact of all that technology and information has been universal, and rapid.

One could argue that the only reason parents worry about how many servings of vegetables their kids eat today is because they now know how many they should be eating. Technology has added to their  frustration by making an abundant assortment of vegetables available all year round.  All that’s left is getting kids to eat them.

The USDA’s new ChooseMyPlate eating plan did its part by recommending that we fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Here are some other proven strategies to help your little ones eat like bunnies.

Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

Imitation. Make sure the child sees you and others in the family eating the same vegetables.

Smile! Ever see someone frowning while licking an ice cream cone?  Children need to see the same expression of enjoyment when you are eating or serving them vegetables.

Repeat exposure. Don’t stop offering them, even if they have been rejected by the child in the past, and don’t stop eating them yourself.

Different textures. Vary the textures (and odors) by serving them raw, cooked, and frozen, such as frozen peas and carrots.

Visual stimulation. Feature different colors and shapes to spark curiosity, such as lima beans, button mushrooms, and baby beets.

Pair with favorites. Vegetables can be put on a pizza, in a dip, or under melted cheese that the child already likes.

Offer any time. Dinner is typically the meal with the most food to eat, so vegetables have to compete with other preferred foods. Make vegetables available at other times of day, especially when kids are hungriest.

Reward the willing. Research suggests a tangible reward or verbal praise can be effective in getting a child to try, and learn to like, a food they are not otherwise motivated to eat.

Change the Name. Some vegetables may have unpleasant associations to a child, such as “squash” and “succotash.”

Let them help. Take them to the grocery store or farm market to select vegetables they’d like to try; let them use age-appropriate gadgets to peel, shred and chop.

Don’t deceive. If you incorporate vegetables in another dish, tell them you made “carrot-tomato sauce” or “carrot-raisin muffins.” They need to appreciate that the vegetables are there, not be wary of them.

 Which list is longer, the one of vegetables you do like or the ones you don’t?

Find plenty of tips and recipes on vegetables from artichoke to zucchini at Fruits & Veggies More Matters

A personalized keepsake box you can fill with cards and letters is a great baby gift idea

Perfect Baby Gift Idea for Grandparents to Give

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can view it here.

A PERSONALIZED KEEPSAKE BOX YOU CAN FILL WITH CARDS AND LETTERS IS A GREAT BABY GIFT IDEA

In our disposable culture, there are few things people hang on to forever. Handwritten cards and letters are one exception. But since the arrival of email and e-cards, those of us lucky enough to have a stash of the handwritten variety may be a dying breed.

The solution is a personalized keepsake box. It’s the perfect baby gift idea to welcome each grandchild into the 21st Century.

If you’re wondering why a personalize keepsake box makes such a great baby gift idea, I have three simple reasons:

  1. The U.S. Postal Service recently announced it will be ending Saturday delivery in August 2013. Given their unresolved financial problems and the rapid adoption of other means to exchange information, it’s just a matter of time before we have even fewer days of first class mail delivery. Your grandchildren deserve to know what it’s like to have a piece of mail arrive at their door with their name on it.
  2. Children are no longer being taught cursive writing in elementary schools. Those who were taught penmanship in the last ten years have had little chance to use it, so it’s illegible. Your notes and letters may be the last chance your grandchildren will have to see it done well.
  3. Cards and letters are a special way to stay in touch with your grandchildren, especially if you don’t get to see them that often. During your visits, you can go through them together and let them show you how well they can read them or discuss what they did during the holidays represented by each card. You can even use them to create a scrapbook together that includes photographs and other memorabilia.

As your grandchildren get older, you can write letters that tell them about what you were doing when you were their age. Who knows, they may become interested in doing some ancestry research online so they can tell you more about your family heritage. If you do get into researching your ancestry with grandchildren, don’t forget to talk about your family health history with their parents.

I still get excited when my mail is delivered. Why not let your grandchildren experience that same excitement when a letter is delivered with their name boldly printed on an envelope? It is certainly a more tangible way to connect with a two year old than trying to talk to him on the phone. Plus the excitement of opening a card or letter can be revisited many times over when the sentiments shared inside are read again and again.

And who knows, your grandchildren just might write back!