How To Get Your Toddler To Eat Vegetables
Get Your Children Eating Those VEgetables!
We all know that vegetables are good for us. People with diets rich in vegetables have a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Examine the cultures around the world with the greatest life expectancy and you will find a plant based diet. So how can you get your toddler to eat vegetables? It's easier than you might think.
A Few Basic Tips To Start Getting Your Toddler To Eat Vegetables
It can be a challenge to get a toddler to even taste a vegetable, let alone consume one. If your child is resistant to veggies there are many things you can do to change that and get your toddler to eat and even enjoy vegetables. Here are a few simple tips:
TIP # 1: The first thing to do is expose your child to the taste, color, and texture of vegetables as young as possible. Introduce vegetables first. And I don't mean just the sweet vegetables. Take the extra time to puree your own spinach, kale, and broccoli. When your child eats the bitter foods first they develop a taste for them and will continue to enjoy and eat them. Give them vegetables every time you feed them and give very little if any fruit at this stage of the game.
So let's say you are past the introducing solid foods stage, you place vegetables on your toddlers' plate and they simply won't eat them. Its ok..time for you to take some control and at this stage of the game you still have complete control. Even if up to this point you have given up or given in, you can change and you can get your toddler to eat and even enjoy vegetables.
TIP # 2: LIVE BY EXAMPLE. You need to know your vegetables (see below) and you need to prepare them and eat them WITH EVERY MEAL and FOR EVERY SNACK. Let your child see you and the rest of the family eating and enjoying vegetables. Your child wants to please and wants to do what mommy and daddy do at this stage of the game, and chances are they will decide to give them a try at least. If you don't eat them and don't show that they are a very important part of a healthy diet, your child will not eat them either.
Still not getting anywhere? Time to really step up the ante.
TIP # 3: They don't get anything else unless the vegetables are eaten first. You heard me. some call it bribery. Serve the vegetables and nothing else yet show them what else you are making (could include dessert) and they can have if they eat their vegetables. You may have to endure some screaming and crying, but remember, you are in control here. Do not give in. Your child will not starve to death I promise. Eventually they will get hungry enough to eat the vegetables, especially if they want to eat something else. It will only take perhaps 3 days to a week to get them to understand that their screaming will not get them what they want and that they will have to eat their vegetables.
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Know Your Vegetables
So your child will know their vegetables too.
In order to provide your growing little one with the right nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they need, you as the parent must first be informed and educated with regards to vegetables. Not all vegetables are created equal and if you think French fries and iceberg lettuce counts the same as spinach or broccoli, think again.
Vegetables can be divided up into groups, here are 5 typical ones:
DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Dark green leafy vegetable are the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food calorie for calorie. They are rich in vitamins K, C, E and many of the B vitamins. They are a great source of fiber, folate, potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.Here are some examples of dark green leafy vegetables. The top 5 healthiest have a star by them. Arugula, *Broccoli, Collard Greens, Dandelion Greens, *Kale, Mustard Greens, *Romaine Lettuce, *Spinach, *Swiss Chard.
Orange vegetables are high in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant which is not only good for eye health it can also delay cognitive aging and protect skin from sun damage. Orange vegetables are also chockfull of vitamins A and C which are crucial to immune system health. Here are some examples of orange vegetables:
Sweet Potatoes,Pumpkin, Carrots
Like other vegetables, starchy vegetables are high in vitamins A and C as well as fiber and potassium. Starchy vegetables are a complex carbohydrate and provide the body with energy for the muscles and brain. Examples of starchy vegetables include: Corn, Green beans, Peas, White potatoes (though I don't recommended large quantities of white potatoes, as they have a high glycemic index and raise blood sugar levels)
BEANS AND LEGUMES
Beans and legumes are chock full of protein and dietary fiber and healthy good fat. In addition they are a slow burning complex carbohydrate and have been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce LDL or the bad cholesterol. They can also be stored for a long period of time. Examples of beans and legumes include:Kidney beans, chick peas, Adzuki beans, Anasazi beans, Black beans, black eyed peas, lentils, red kidney beans,lima beans, fava beans, and soy beans (though I don't recommend soy beans or processed soy products like tofu.)
Vegetables in this category include things such as tomatoes (which are really a fruit), onions, parsnips, peppers, eggplant, mushrooms (really a fungi), been sprouts, cabbage, okra, zucchini, beets, cauliflower, cucumbers etc. Some are more nutritious than others.
Tomatoes for example are rich in lycopene which acts as an antioxidant more powerful than beta carotene, beets contain phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, folic acid, iron, calcium, and potassium, as well as fiber, vitamins A and C, niacin, and biotin, cauliflower contains vitamin c and folate and eggplant is high in fiber and phytonutrients.
Try Hiding The Vegetables
In addition to giving vegetables first at every meal and for every snack, puree vegetables and mix the pureed vegetables into foods your children already like. REMEMBER, THIS IS DONE IN ADDITION TO GIVING VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL AND FOR EVERY SNACK. There are a couple of cook books out there that have recipes for doing this (see below. I wish I had written one as I just naturally started to do this before I heard of the cook books!).
Some simple examples we use are:
- Pureed cauliflower in mashed potatoes
- Pureed or thinly sliced spinach, broccoli and asparagus and
- zucchini in pasta sauce
- Pureed spinach in muffins, yogurt, breads
- Pureed pumpkin in oatmeal
- Puree broccoli or spinach and freeze it in small ice cube trays
- (creates fun colored ice cubes to eat)
- Thinly sliced zucchini, carrots, onions and broccoli can be
- hidden well in ground beef or turkey.
- Soups that are pureed like split pea or lentil are great for
- hiding vegies of all sorts
- Smoothies are a perfect way to add a little green veggies
Excellent Cookbooks To Help You Get Your Toddler To Eat Vegetables - And to help you hide the veggies
Recipes and ideas for delicious foods where you hide simple healthful ingredients.
Expect to find ideas in here that are outside the box of typical American kid cusine, not just for vegetables but for all meals.
Traditional recipes stealthily packed with veggies hidden in them.
GIVE VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL AND FOR EVERY SNACK
Some Snack Ideas
Yes it takes longer for you to slice and prepare vegetables to have as snacks than it does to open a bag of chips, but it’s worth the extra effort. Here are some vegetable snacks we have some combination of every day, start eating them yourself for snacks and bring them everywhere you go:
Sliced carrots and celery
Beets roasted in olive oil (this one is messy)
Sliced red and yellow peppers
Peas (my son prefers them frozen and he also enjoys the frozen peas mixed with pureed spinach as a snack)
Make Eating Vegetables Fun And Get Your Toddler Involved
**Let them pick the veggies at the grocery store, pushing the small grocery cart instead of riding in a larger one. Engage in a dialogue as to why they chose the vegetables they did, what they like about them, the various colors and sizes etc.
** Better yet, grow your own veggies and let them help - planting the seeds, watering and finally picking and pulling. Then let them wash and help you prepare them. This involvement is especially fun for them and also teaches them where food comes from.
** Be creative with presentation - make a face with cabbage hair, cucumber eyes, a cherry tomato nose and carrots for lips. Then have fun eating one part at a time. Make a broccoli forest standing upright in rice, or a celery boat carrying peanut butter. Broccoli isn't just a vegetable, its fairy food!
** find veggies that are unusual in color and talk them up. For example, I just found purple and orange cauliflower at my local Whole Foods. Its exciting to eat something purple! Orange and yellow peppers are a fun change from the usual red ones and white asparagus seems pretty interesting too.
** introduce lots of fun dipping sauces. Ranch dressing or Italian dressing, yogurt mixes, catsup, cheese sauce, whatever you can come up with and make it super fun to dip and try them all.
PreSchool-Grade 1. Intensely colored graphics capture the complete growing process from seed to cooking pot. It's a fresh presentation of the gardening cycle with a joyful conclusion, and the added attraction of an easy and tasty recipe for vegetable soup on the flyleaf. A book to help nourish healthy readers.
Tempting your children to try some delicious vegetables will be much easier once they have played with these realistically sized "fresh from the farm" veggies. There are 7 pieces packed in this crate of harvested seasonal favorites. This durable, molded-plastic food is ideal for kitchen and grocery play.
Just the right size for little hands. Includes lots of vegetables for lots of fun. Try the crate of fruit play food too!
Always have vegetables on hand for your toddler or child
Go to the grocery store with your little one and have fun letting them pick out the veggies and load the cart. Once you get home spend an entire afternoon preparing everything so its easy to get to and use for the entire week.
Peel and slice carrots, jicama, cucumbers, red and yellow peppers and beets.
Wash and puree any vegetables you may need - spinach, kale, cauliflower
Thinly slice veggies for sauces such as zuccini, carrots, squash
wash the cherry tomatoes and remove the tops.
keep the avocados and sweet potatoes in an easy to locate spot on the counter top
Place everything to be refrigerated in glass storage containers or zip lock bags. Freeze extra pureed items for later use.
GIVE VEGETABLES FIRST
Teach The ABC's, Teach The Veggies
Eating the alphabet will have your toddler happily pointing to the rhubarb and radicchio in the produce section and asking for more.
Hope no one is too offended, I have toned it down actually.
One thing I never expected as a parent would be the CONSTANT PRESSURE to harm my child by feeding him unhealthy food. Complete strangers, acquaintances, friends, even close family members all putting on the pressure.
First there's the total stranger offering up the lollipop or a piece of hard candy at the bank or the hair cut shop. For your dining pleasure, there's the childrens menu filled with the artery busting deep fried extravaganza, not a vegetable in sight. (what is up with that??) Let's not even talk about commericals and advertisments in magazines, the internet and everywhere else, fast food in your face - NO THANK YOU!
When a friend asks what I'm feeding my 3 year old for dinner and I say we are having vegetables, she scrunches up her face and says ‘oh poor thing’ or when I say we are not doing anything for Halloween to another friend and she says ‘My GOD, how can you possibly deny him Halloween?!’ Or how about his third birthday last March? We have to have a cake, my babysitter insists (as does my husband,) what would other people think it we didn’t have a cake at his birthday party? Since he has never had a cake before it wouldn't kill him to have one made of fruit or from dates I say. Oh, but other people might think that's strange you say. SO WHAT I say, so what!? You know what healthy foods are so STOP trying to give my child unhealthy things he does not need.
My 3 year old, up to this point, has had a diet free of hydrogenated fat, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, red meat, cow dairy, gluten and soy protein. My son eats organic vegetables and fruit, whole grains that are gluten free, organic chicken and turkey, salmon and other fish, and goat dairy products. I use extra virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Almost nothing I feed him is packaged and processed. It's not perfect, on four occasions that I know of, day care providers have messed up and given him something I would not allow.
My 3 year old very rarely throws a temper tantrum. He sleeps well every single night and goes to bed without a fuss. He is very, very rarely sick. He had only one small cold last year and that was it. (And I didn't have any, yay!) He has never had an ear infection. He is active and happy.
I attribute most of this to his diet. His diet that I have worked so incredibly hard to preserve the integrity of at all times no matter where he is or what he is doing. I truly believe diet is the root of most disease and illness and that's why I run a tight ship. Is it hard to eat the way we do? You bet it is. Is it worth it? You bet it is. And to be honest, it's getting harder, as he gets older and more exposed to things other children are eating. But I will keep at it as best as I can for as long as I can.
As an adult how many people do you know say things 'I wish I ate better as a kid,' Or 'gee, I just can’t stop this addiction to soda.' Or 'why is it so hard to lose weight?' Or 'my father died from triple bypass surgery and heart disease?' Wouldn't it have been nice if your family showed you how to eat well right from the start? We never ate fast food or drank soda when I was growing up and I thank my mother every day for it.
So please, I know you think you are being kind when you offer that lollipop or sugggest some trans fat, refined white flour, sugar filled cookies, but I just see it as pressure, pressure to do something I believe harms the health of my child. And please don’t feel sorry for my son because he isn’t getting to eat these things, I rejoice in his excellent health every single day.
Some Green Smoothie Recipes
Combining fruit and veggies for a fun and vibrant drink
KALE AND PEAR
1x cup of green grapes
1x large orange (optional)
1x large banana
1x cup of kale, no stems
1x cup of water
1x 4 ice cubes
blend all ingredients on a low speed for a minute if you have a variable speed blender and then blend on high speed. Serve in a glass with a slice of lemon and a leaf of mint.
2x oranges peeled and quatered
1x cup of spinach
1x 4 cups of cold water
put all the ingredients in a blender and serve with a piece of orange.
1x champagne mango
1x cup pineapple chunks
1x half a cup of water
1x 3 ice cubes
Combine all the above with a blender add the ice cubes lastly.
1x fuji apple or any you have available
1x cup of spinach
1x cup of walnut or almond milk
Empty all the ingredients into your blender and serve
1x half a large cucumber
1x cup of kale
1x cup of some fresh orange juice
Combine the above in your blender add ice to add a bit of chill if needed
photo source: http://chaoticpeace.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/green-smoothie.jpg