As a raw vegan family with 2 boys ages 4 and 9 we are very experienced in how to get children to not only eat their vegetables. but to actually enjoy their vegetables. We don't hide veggies or sneak them into food. We want our kids to learn to truly enjoy eating healthy food so their taste buds will be adapted to fruits and vegetables for life. Here are our top tips for getting kids to eat and enjoy vegetables:
Model the behavior; Modeling the behavior of eating and enjoying vegetables will encourage children to follow suit. Children learn from our actions more than they learn from our words, and you cant expect them to want to eat healthy if they don't see us doing it (and loving it) as well! So eat your salads and veggies and talk about how good they taste.
Don't force it; This one may seem odd, but if you try and force something, more often than not, children are going to want to do the opposite. In some ways, I guess you could say we 'force' raw veganism on our children because we don't buy anything else. but we never force them to eat something they don't want to. We give them options. We only keep healthy and nourishing food in our home, so if they don't want one thing, there is another good option. For example, if I make a salad for dinner for everyone but Chris doesn't like it, he is free to choose from anything else we have to eat. He can have a smoothie, banana ice cream, grapes, avocado, or any other fruit or veggies we have in the house. We want it to be their choice to eat what it is we make and when they feel they have the freedom to choose when and how they eat their vegetables they will enjoy them a lot more.
Try out lots of different vegetables; All kids just like adults have different preferences for taste. Let your children try out different vegetables and figure out which ones it is that they like. For our kids they both love celery, cucumbers, lettuce, and carrots. P.J loves kale and onions while Chris does not. Chris loves tomatoes and avocado while P.J does not. Help them experience new tastes so they can learn about what they like!
Don't keep unhealthy food in the house; Just like me and Phillip, if we were eating highly processed foods, our taste buds would prefer those foods and healthy foods would not taste as good to us. But when all we have in the house is healthy foods, our taste buds are used to fruits and vegetables and we thoroughly enjoy what it is that we eat. The same goes for children. You cant stock your house full of processed food, chips, candy, etc and expect them to enjoy and want to eat their vegetables during dinner. But if you allow their taste buds to get used to healthy foods that is what they will crave and want.
Its all about the dressing and dips; A good dressing or dip will take vegetables to a whole new level. Chris will eat unlimited celery if there's guacamole to go with it and PJ would eat an entire head of kale if there was a creamy tahini sauce to go with it. I find that fatty dressings made from nuts, seeds or avocados really help with kids enjoying their vegetables and feeling satisfied with them too. Experiment with different dressings or dips and see which ones your kids like best! Look out for my salad ebook coming out in a few months that will have 25 different dressings in it.
Get creative; It doesn't always have to just be salads or plain vegetables that your kids can eat. You can get creative and make different recipes with vegetables! One of our favorites is cucumber boats which is a cucumber cut in half with the seeds scraped out, sauce put in the middle and topped with sunflower seeds and jalapeno for Chris. They also love having dips for their vegetables, lettuce tacos, vegetable noodles and raw wraps!
Let them help; Getting kids to help with the process of making their dips, salads and more will help them get excited about the food they are eating! When children feel involved in the process they will want to eat what it is they created and feel proud of helping. It will also help them know everything that went into what it was that was made and teach them how to make their own food when they are older as well. You can buy some really great children knives on Amazon for them to help you cut up their veggies!
Make salads bite-size; When making salads, especially for young ones, cut everything up really small so that its a good size for their mouths and isn't too overwhelming. Cut up the lettuce and whatever other vegetables into tiny pieces so that everything gets mixed up really well. I find this helps P.J a lot because when veggies are cut up too big he has a hard time eating the salads.
And there you go! There are my top 8 tips for getting children to enjoy and eat their vegetables! I really hope this blog helps you out a bit and if you have any questions at all please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us. Thank you!