If you have children, work with children, or even think back to your childhood, you are well aware that when it comes to vegetables, kids are more than a bit reluctant to partake. You are not a bad parent because your toddler doesn’t excitedly devour a plate of broccoli. If your child does approach a plate of greens with enthusiasm- congratulations; there’s officially nothing you can’t conquer.
For the rest of the world, here are a few tricks to inspire your toddler to become veggie-friendly.
1.Slather on the butter
You don’t need a scientist to tell you butter makes things better; your taste buds are reliable enough. There are a few reasons adding butter to your toddler’s veggies is effective. If you think back to the first time you had a cup of coffee, you’ll likely remember it didn’t taste so great (not until you added your pumpkin spice creamer). Black coffee is bitter.
As humans, we react negatively to bitter tasting foods, instinctively, because our bodies are wired for self-preservation. If you were actually raised by wolves in the wild, your body would warn you of potentially toxic foods because those foods would taste bitter. Those toxic compounds can often mirror the taste of beneficial compounds found in many of our vegetables. For a child to simply refuse to eat their vegetables is understandable due to its bitterness. Over time, as more exposure is given to veggies, the child’s taste buds adapt to the bitterness- just like yours adapted to coffee.
In the meantime, adding butter to your child’s vegetables will help negate the bitterness. Not only will the butter make veggies more palatable to children, but butter holds a great deal of benefits itself. Cassie Bjork, RD, of Healthy Simple Life comments, “not only does butter—the grass-fed variety, in particular— contain vitamins A, E, and D3, which are important for growing kids, the added fat helps their little bodies absorb the vitamins from the vegetables.”
2. Give your children options
Without relinquishing your parental rights or letting your children decide the veggie life “just isn’t for them,” giving your child options when it comes to their diet can produce surprising results.
As children, we all liked to pretend we were grown ups (what were we thinking?). Rather than setting a plate full of cauliflower in front of your unhappy toddler, try a different approach. Give your child options on their meal. Ask them if they’d prefer carrots, spinach, or both. If they feel like they get to make a decision, the power could go to their little heads enough that they actually choose both.
Another way to give your child options is to take them to the market with you. Ask them to pick out the veggies that look good to them. Feeling like their opinion is being taken seriously by an adult could create a veggie fanatic.
3. Let your children get hungry
Now, we’re certainly not advocating starving your child; however, if you begin cooking dinner, and Timmy and Susie get impatient for the spaghetti to be ready, set out a plate of veggies with their favorite dip. Is it scientifically possible for a hungry individual to resist carrots with ranch dressing?
Before your children come barrelling through the front door after school and begin scavenging for snacks, have a plate of vegetables ready to satisfy their hunger. It’s not a Snickers bar, but if it’s set out and prepared, the convenience could convince them to snack.
These are just a few ideas to inspire your journey towards successfully producing veggie-philes. If you have some proven tricks or even ideas that didn’t work out so well, let us know in the comments!