Since we follow a mostly vegetarian diet in our house, you might think I have an advantage when it comes to getting my kids to eat their vegetables. I’m sure other vegetarian families would agree with me when I say: I don’t believe our eating preferences have much to do with the amount of vegetables we eat. When you remove meat from your diet – vegetables do not automatically fill the void.
Meat-eaters or otherwise, for many of us vegetables are just the mandatory side dish. And for many, the not so mandatory side dish. Vegetables are something that “should” be eaten. Not necessarily enjoyed. The I-know-I-should-but-I-don’t-like-so-I-won’t-bother food. It seems to me that vegetables are seriously under-rated.
Like anyone else, I wish my kids begged me for salads and roasted veggies. Well, okay, sometimes they do. But this doesn’t happen all the time, I would say hardly ever is more like it.
When it comes to getting my kids to appreciate vegetables, my approach is a bit different, and sometimes it works! My approach is to start with “veggie respect”, not veggie eating.
Since March is nutrition month, I’ve decided to dedicate a bit of time to the topic of kids and vegetables. Let’s call it Veggie Appreciation Month. This is the first post in a series of many, so check back often.
Now, before I get started, please don’t take this as I think my kids are perfect veggie eaters and at the ages of 5 and 7 they follow a perfectly healthy vegan diet or something like that. I’ve said before, my blog is not about perfection. My kid’s diet is not about perfection. (Neither is mine – I just found 2 chocolate peanut butter chunk cookies in the lunch room – talk about chocolatey peanuty perfection!)
No – our diet, my kid’s diet, is about trial, error, and testing. It’s about patience. Eating vegetables is a habit, skill perhaps is a better word, and like all skills it requires patience and practice.
And it needs a good coach.
This post and the ones that follow are about what I do with my kids that has helped get some vegetables past their lips and into their tummies. In some cases these are tricks and tips I have found elsewhere that I want to try, have tried, or wish I thought of myself.
First up: Model good veggie behaviour
Originally, I thought this idea belonged at the end, the most important point I needed to make about feeding kids well, the conclusion to this rant. For one, I’m not sure how long this rant will go on, it may never end. Secondly, this point is so important it deserves to go first.
Yet, it’s so obvious, I’m not even sure I need to mention it.
If you want your kids to eat their veggies – you need to your veggies.
As parents we have come to understand that to get our kids to model the behaviours we feel important, we need to model them as well. We want active kids, we need to be active. We want our kids to show patience and kindness, we need to show our kids patience and kindness. This is not a new concept. If we want our kids to actually eat their vegetables, we need to put them on our own plates and eat them.
I am not blaming parents for their picky eaters. Don’t misunderstand me. My point is not about your kids eating vegetables. This is all about you. Don’t worry about your kids for a minute. Just worry about you. When your kids are ready – they will follow you. So make sure are leading where you want them to follow….
I came home from work late one night last week. The kids had ate and I was starving. Instead of grabbing something quick, I set to making myself a salad. My lunch was horrible and I needed a salad. Do you know that feeling? I just needed something green and fresh.
The kids found me before I had even finished washing the lettuce. While I chopped and tossed they watched and asked questions. My son grated carrots, tossed in some seeds, tore the kale, tasted and approved of my dressing. When I was ready to sit down to eat, he grabbed a fork and dug in.
Dinner salad: romaine, kale, spinach, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, grated carrots, chopped apples, pumpkin seeds and dried cherries, tossed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Would I be bragging if I told you I had to shew him away from my dinner? Yeah, I guess I would be.