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Navigating the Garden of Greens: A Parent's Reflections on the Battle of Veggies

Updated: Sep 24, 2023



Introduction

The universal struggle of persuading children to eat their vegetables is a daily challenge faced by parents and caregivers worldwide. It is a negotiation that likely occurs at every dinner table. Shredded vegetables are likened to grass, broccoli or cauliflower to miniature trees. Even our furry companions, the family pets, are not fooled when children try to pass off their unwanted veggies.

If you are a parent with a dining room near a window, you have probably witnessed the covert operation of children tossing out their unwanted greens. Despite this, we cannot deny the importance of vegetables in children's diets for their growth and overall health. The question remains: how can we ensure these essential foods become a regular part of their meals?

The Rainbow Approach: Encouraging a Colorful Diet for Kids

My approach was to emphasise the importance of eating a variety of colours, equating a healthy, balanced meal to a vibrant rainbow on a plate. The idea is that the bright, vibrant colors of the vegetables will appeal to children, making them more interested in eating their veggies. This method had mixed results. I found refreshing success with lettuce and cabbage. Grated cabbage and carrots, alongside slices of cucumber, became a welcomed salad that my children genuinely enjoyed. But alas, broccoli, spinach, and other leafy stalky greens were still met with a firm refusal: "I am not eating sticks or trees."


While the Rainbow Approach is a great way to introduce a variety of vegetables to kids, it might be necessary to employ additional strategies to encourage them to eat a wider range of veggies. For instance, you might consider preparing the vegetables in different ways, incorporating them into dishes they already enjoy, or even giving them fun names.





The Smoothie and Juice Experiment: Adding Fun to Vegetable Consumption



I experimented with juicing and blending vegetables as an alternative method for encouraging children to consum


e fresh vegetables, but it was not without its challenges. The introduction of green juice often elicited cries of disgust, likely due to the intense flavour of the vegetables or the children's pre-existing aversions. However, a blend of carrots, beetroot, and fruits proved to be a more palatable option. The sweetness of the fruit helped to mask the potent taste of the beetroot, making the juice more enjoyable. The inclusion of colourful straws also added a fun element to the drinking experience.


I also tried incorporating vegetables into smoothies. With their thicker texture and the ability to combine with dairy or non-dairy milk, smoothies offered another dimension of taste and texture. The children appreciated this to some degree, as long as there were minimal amounts of vegetables included. This modest success led me to the creative idea of including vegetables in ice cream. The outcome? I ended up consuming all the ice cream by myself!


While juices and smoothies can make vegetables more appealing for the children to consume, they don't necessarily enhance their natural flavour. It is a creative approach, but not a panacea for the age-old challenge of persuading children to relish their vegetables.


The Downfalls of Force and Bribery: Encouraging Healthy Habits Responsibly

Some parents and caregivers use force or bribery in an attempt to encourage children to consume vegetables. Forceful measures might include threats of punishment or the withdrawal of privileges unless the child complies. Resorting to force or bribery is not the solution. We have all witnessed the heartbreaking sight of a child with a mouthful of unwanted vegetables, forced to swallow and possibly ending in a teary gag or even vomit. The use of force can be counterproductive as it can lead to resentment and a negative association with the consumption of vegetables. This could eventually result in a lifelong aversion to vegetables, which can impact the child's health and nutrition.

Bribery, which involves offering the child a reward (usually a sweet treat like chocolate or ice cream) in return for eating their vegetables, might seem effective in the short term, but it is not a sustainable solution. The primary issue with this approach is that it encourages an unhealthy relationship with food. The child begins to view vegetables as a chore that they must endure to receive a reward, rather than as a necessary and enjoyable part of their diet. This tactic does not help the child develop a genuine appreciation for vegetables.


Conclusion

The journey to get children to embrace vegetables is complex, filled with trial and error. It is a challenge that requires patience, creativity, and love. But it is a fight worth fighting, for their health and their future.

I invite you to join the conversation and share your experiences navigating the balance of desires between parents and children. Let's support each other on our parenting journeys.



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is an Independent International Consultant committed to advancing women's rights. As a devoted parent, Nite understands the complexities and challenges of child-rearing. Her personal experiences and reflections offer valuable insights, practical tips, and effective strategies to assist other parents and caregivers.

17 views10 comments

10 comentarios


Invitado
05 nov 2023

I prepare salads with my children and in the process they eat cucumber and carrots. Also because they are proud of their 'art work' they eat the salad at meal times.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
28 dic 2023
Contestando a

Involving children in meal preparation is a wonderful way to spark their interest in healthy foods. It's great to hear how this approach not only makes them proud of their creations but also encourages them to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor.


Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Invitado
05 nov 2023

If you want your children to eat vegetables, you need to lead by example.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
28 dic 2023
Contestando a

Leading by example is indeed a powerful approach in encouraging healthy eating habits in children. Your insight aligns perfectly with the idea that parents' actions often speak louder than words in shaping their children's preferences.


Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Invitado
31 oct 2023

I use cookie cutters to cut vegetables into interesting shapes and sizes, such as stars, hearts, or animals. That way, I get the children to eat them.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
28 dic 2023
Contestando a

That's a creative and fun strategy! Using cookie cutters to make vegetables more appealing in the form of stars, hearts, or animals is a fantastic way to encourage children to enjoy their greens. Thank you for sharing this clever tip!


Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Invitado
29 oct 2023

The irony of it all. When I was young, I used to be forced to eat vegetables. As an adult, I ensure that veggies are part of my daily diet!

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
29 oct 2023
Contestando a

It's fascinating how our perspectives on vegetables evolve over time, isn't it? What once seemed like a chore now becomes a conscious choice for better health. Your comment beautifully captures this transformation and serves as a great reminder that sometimes, what's good for us takes time to appreciate. Thank you for sharing your personal journey with vegetables.

Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #GardenOfGreens #HealthyEating

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Invitado
28 oct 2023

I do not like vegetables and I have unintentionally passed on this bad habit to my children.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
31 oct 2023
Contestando a

Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us. It is quite common for parents to pass on their own preferences and aversions to their children, often unintentionally. The good news is that tastes can change and habits can be formed at any age. If you are interested in integrating more vegetables into your family's diet, perhaps you could start small. Try incorporating veggies into meals in subtle ways, like blending them into smoothies or adding them into favourite dishes. Experimenting with different cooking methods and spices can also make a world of difference in taste. Remember, it is never too late to make a positive change.

Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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