Photo taken at Torello Farm, Dromana
If you’re struggling to get your children to eat vegetables – you’re not alone. Many parents face the same problem each night at the dinner table. The following five tips may help you when encouraging your child to eat more of the good stuff.
Tip 1. Keep offering the broccoli
Did you know it can take more than 15 exposures to a new food before a child will accept that food? Even then, sometimes they may not like it. Exposure doesn’t just include tasting food. It can also mean touching, smelling, cooking, cutting and even playing games with the food. Every exposure to the food counts!
Try introducing new foods with other foods your children already enjoy. Or try preparing them in a different way such as mashed, roasted, grated or cut into different shapes.
Tip 2. Get children involved
Encourage children to try new vegetables by getting them involved in all aspects of food preparation. This could include helping with the shopping, cooking, grating or slicing food, tossing a salad, picking food from your garden or choosing between two vegetables to include in their meal.
Tip 3. The parent or carer provides and the child decides
Your role as a parent or carer is to provide a range of nutritious foods for your child or children to enjoy. Your child's role is to decide how much to eat. Young children are very good at regulating how much they need to eat. Some days they will eat more than others. Encourage your child to listen to their body and recognise when they have had enough. Avoid using food as a reward, try stickers or a trip to the park instead.
Tip 4. Be a role model
Children learn by watching others. As a parent or carer, you can be a role model by sitting down and sharing a meal with your child and eating the delicious vegetables you have prepared together. Keep mealtimes positive and enjoyable and not focused on how much or little children are eating.
Tip 5. Don’t despair!
Developing a positive relationship with food is a long game. Although it may appear that you are making little progress, every bit counts. Children won’t magically start eating all their vegetables overnight. What you do now will help them establish a solid foundation to enjoy and celebrate nutritious food for the rest of their lives.
Written by: Anneliese Twigg, parent and nutritionist.
The Food Connection
Tips and Tricks have been prepared by nutritionists, dieticians, health professionals and parents from Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula.
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