Q: I am feeling the guilt that after my kids had their first birthday, I let them have treats — chocolate, a lolly or two etc, and now they are terrible with veges and love their sweets! I have a sweet tooth but hoped that by delaying giving them treats until after they were one, their good eating habits would be established. What other things can I try other than ‘hiding’ veges, to get my kids to eat their vegetables?
A: HFG Nutritionist Claire Turnbull responds:
Let’s be honest, most children if given the choice would opt for sweets over broccoli, because of the taste and because sweets seem more exciting and special.
Saying veges are ‘something you have to eat because they are good for you’ doesn’t make them appealing to kids. So it’s time to make veges fun and interesting!
Try growing a few veges if you can, even if it is just a few carrots or spinach in an old bucket — just to help your kids see how exciting it is that things grow.
Look at interesting fun ways to present veges such as chopping them in different shapes and sizes. It’s important as a parent to be a good role model, too, so by eating your veges you show your kids you’re enjoying them because they taste nice not just because they’re ‘good for you’.
Even getting your kids to have one bite of a vegetable each day can help them, over time, to accept their taste. It’s quite normal for kids to reject new foods and needing to try small amounts 10-12 times before they become acceptable. Persist.
As well as actively getting your kids more involved in growing and eating veges as they are, it’s fine to ‘hide’ them to boost the amount they are having.
Try mashing potato with steamed cauliflower — they will never know by looking. Carrots, swedes and onions make a great mash, too. Try blitzing it up to make it very smooth. You can also try adding grated courgettes (peel if you don’t want them to spot the green) and carrots to mince dishes. Good luck!
See our story Childhood obesity ADD LINK /articles/2013/november/childhood-pbesity for more strategies on how to instil good eating habits in kids.