A little while ago now, I had the pleasure of teaching nutrition to 50 children at an infant school, the age group was six to seven year olds and it was a really interesting and enjoyable experience. I took a variety of vegetables for them to identify and had prepared 6 lunch boxes of varying nutritional value. I am delighted to say that the school concerned is very keen on encouraging healthy eating and the majority of the children were aware of what foods were good for them and they also understood how important it is to drink water – they called it “brain juice”. At the end of the school day I gave a talk to some of their parents and it was interesting to hear the different ways parents encourage their children to eat healthily. One parent tells her son that wholemeal bread has chocolate in which is why it is brown and he really loves the taste now!
Children are such a blessing in our lives but also sadly often a huge challenge. Firstly stop beating yourselves up about something that is very common, especially with young children. Simply, many children do not like vegetable. Young children are finding their own personality and they can quickly discover that at mealtimes they are in control. Stop worrying, you are doing your best and if you are more relaxed at mealtimes they will be too. Try and get them involved in the purchase and preparation of food and never force them to eat anything but just keep presenting it to them in different ways. You can describe broccoli as little trees and always give more than they need to eat so they can leave some on their plate and then you will be happy that at least they have eaten some.
If your child has a friend who loves vegetables and eats everything in sight then make sure you have him or her around for tea, I am sure this will make a big difference. I am sorry to say but its all about psychology – or as my mother used to say “kidology”. Children usually like pasta and tomato sauces and you can hide some carrots and courgettes and peppers by pureeing them first; they will probably not notice; especially if you are relaxed about it. You could also try juicing vegetables; make it taste sweet using carrots, sweet potato and orange juice; experiment and see which works best. Soups are another easy way of getting children to eat their vegetables.
We all know about the five a day rule, so make sure you have a bowl of fruit in the kitchen; if your children refuse vegetables at least they will be getting lots of goodness from fruit.