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.
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.