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Getting Kids to Eat Veggies!

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March is National Nutrition Month! Are your kids eating their veggies? Here are a few ideas to help ....

Guest blogger JJ Virgin: Some kids are as anti-vegetable as they are anti-bedtime or anti-homework. They'll come up with crafty ways to avoid "those slimy green things," like furtively feeding them to the dog or sneaking them into a napkin to throw out later.

kid eating veggies
So it sometimes takes a little extra effort to ensure that your kids are eating their veggies. But new research published in the journal Nutrition & Dietetics found that there are several effective ways to get kids to get veggies: 

Hold Tasting Parties 
Buy a variety of colorful seasonal vegetables and encourage your kids to try them. You could make it even more fun by slicing veggies into cute shapes and using colorful plates and cutlery to build positive associations with vegetables. 

Model Healthful Behavior 
When kids see you eating healthful foods or even sitting down with them so you can enjoy healthful foods together, they're more likely to eat veggies themselves. So when you make nutritious choices, you're not only feeding yourself and boosting your own health, you're also helping your kids make healthful choices. 

Involve Kids in Food Preparation 
Anytime you get kids involved in choosing or preparing food, you'll satisfy their curiosity and fuel their interest in healthful foods. So take your kids to the farmer's market and let them pick out produce. Ask them to help measure ingredients or stir a pot of soup (watching carefully, of course). Over time, they'll develop a greater appreciation for nutritious meals. 

Watch Popeye Cartoons 
It sounds a little hokey, but this cartoon has been inspiring spinach consumption for generations. Crystal City, Texas, even built a Popeye statue to celebrate the impact the character has had on the spinach-growing industry. When young kids see this spinach-eating sailor and his unusual strength, they want to eat it, too. Other entertaining programs -- such as "VeggieTales" -- also encourage healthful eating, but Popeye is the only one specifically mentioned in the study. 

Kids develop their food and eating habits at a young age, so it's helpful to start these strategies early. Have you tried any of these tips? What would you add? 

©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity nutrition and wellness expert JJ Virgin is a media personality, costar of the TLC prime-time reality series "Freaky Eaters," in-demand public speaker and bestselling author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy: The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong and Sculpted Arms." Get her biweekly LEANzine --chock-full of tips to get you slim and sexy fast -- at http://www.jjvirgin.com.


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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
ogloszeniatowarzyskie March 8, 2011, 2:47 AM

I spent last 3 hours reading your articles ! And must say: awseome website ! !
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Anonymous March 8, 2011, 4:11 AM

Here’s a really easy way to get kids to eat vegetables - give them nothing else to eat and make it clear that if they do reject the food, that exact food will be served to them as their next meal. Food goes in bellies, not in trash cans. Make the rule clear and stick to it. Simple.

Angela March 8, 2011, 7:12 AM

Anonymous, I think that is anything but easy. I pretty much only offer healthy options at meals but I also include things like whole grains, fruit and dairy. I would never dream of putting my son on a vegetable only diet. Also in desperation I have tried your technique of offering the same rejected foods until it is accepted but it was a miserable failure. Maybe it is effective for some children but for my child he only ate enough to barely get by and still has an aversion to it several months later. On the other hand when I allow him to choose which of the healthy foods he will or will not try without making a production then he often will be willing to try a food he originally rejected a day or 2 later. I couldn’t say what technique works with every child, but with my kid this has been the best by far.

Coco of VidaCoco.com March 8, 2011, 3:19 PM

I try to make eating healthy fun for my kids and get them involved in helping me make meals. My trick to getting them to eat their vegetables is to put a spin on traditional kids’ snacks or meals. For example, they get a kick out of helping me make “cats” using whole grain english muffins or whole wheat bagels with cottage cheese, small cucumber slices for eyes and ears, a small piece of red bell pepper for the nose, and thin carrot slices for the mouth and whiskers or “sushi” rolls using whole grain bread, tuna fish, cucumbers, and carrots. They are also more inclined to eat fruits and vegetables when they are presented like “adult” food (e.g. on skewers, with dips, etc.) and when they get to experiment with them and make their own creations. I also get my kids involved with helping me grow vegetables in our home garden. I think it’s all about being creative and changing up meals every now and then, even serving the same foods in different shapes or ways.

WhoCares? March 10, 2011, 7:51 AM

Parents today are wimps! Make the kid eat vegetables.

jimmy@garden Loopers March 26, 2011, 3:41 PM

I just recently began searching for new articles on good growing tips. Some of my favorite supplies were found by searching online. Although this post isn’t exactly what I was looking for, It does have several quality gardening related hints.


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