Swedish mum Lisa Fuchs in this week’s ‘Food for thought’ column talks about the hot topic of how to get your kids to eat vegetables. Or even – how to get your kids to eat anything healthy for that matter!
It seems to be a hot topic in the western world, how to get your kids to eat vegetables. Or even – how to get your kids to eat anything healthy.
In a world where we have an abundance of food to choose from it is ironic that so many families struggle to keep their kids healthy. We manage to create routines around bedtime bath, brushing teeth and, to some extent, healthy sleeping times because it feels important. So why do we still struggle with healthy food?
First let’s bring up a few things that probably will not help!
Have you thought about your own approach to food? Do you openly complain about having to cook? Do you start the meal by laying out rules for how many spoons of veg your child has to eat, as if this is a big punishment?
Or bargaining by saying: “if you eat a spoon of green peas you’ll get dessert”?
And in the end – Do you eventually give in and hand your kid a piece of toast with nutella / jam / marmite – “because they have to eat something”
I think most of us have been there and done that, and pretty soon noticed that it did not help.
Instead, here are a few things to try:
• Keep a positive attitude to food. Talk about vegetables, as the amazingly interesting wonders they are. Buy fresh produce and go for different colors and textures;
• Implement a strict rule that says; we don’t talk bad about food. Never. No complaining, no bad words, no disrespect for whoever cooked the meal, and no wrinkling up noses. After all – we sit down to share a meal, and we are lucky to have food on the table;
• Keep a positive attitude at mealtime. Everyone should try at least a bite of everything, but don’t use threats. This is not the time to fight. Point out that you don’t have to love everything that was served but that you never talk badly about food – you concentrate on the positive parts;
• Don’t ever praise your kids for eating vegetables. This only sends them the signal that what they did was not normal, and that this in fact deserved special mentioning. You might praise them for being a good eater, a pleasant company at the table, or for having made an effort and tried everything served – just don’t single out the vegetables as an obstacle;
• Always say thank you for the meal. Teach your kids from early on that we should not take food for granted. Even if you did not particularly love the food served, you still say thank you because someone cooked this food for you. Someone went to work to earn money to buy this food. Always be thankful. Always be respectful.
And in the end, just be patient. My kids went through phases where they disliked most vegetables we served. We didn’t give up though and today they both eat and really enjoy almost everything I put on the table.
A tip! Switch out dinner fillers that are high in carbohydrates and have no or very little nutritional value – to vegetables.
Right now we have the season for the amazing Spaghetti Squash. Get them at the farmers market or in your local organic shop. Spaghetti Squash is easy to cook. Use a fork to punch a few holes through the skin then bake it whole, as it is, in the oven (180 C / 360 F) for about one hour. Once done, cut it in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Then switch to using a fork scratching out the stringy squash meat. Be careful not to burn your fingers! This looks a bit like spaghetti – hence the name. Add plenty of butter and salt to taste, and enjoy together with your favorite pasta sauce.
This post first appeared in the Luxembourg Wort English – luxtimes.lu