We all know that eating vegetables is important - the Australian Guidelines for Healthy Eating recommend 5 serves per day. So how do you get our children to eat more?
Starting at the very beginning, before we even get vegetables onto the plate, learning to grow them has been demonstrated to increase a child’s willingness to try vegetables and increase their preference in consuming them, along with a host of other benefits. The process of planting and caring for seeds is an amazing way to engage your child in vegetables and their benefits. Try starting small with carrots, Harold’s favourite!
Children’s taste buds are constantly changing and developing, their taste senses are much more intense than adults. Learning what flavours your child enjoys can help you to offer vegetables they will enjoy eating. Remember to also take some time to learn about flavour pairings of vegetables to help make food taste more appealing to little tongues. Below is a vegetable flavour family to help identify tastes, start with the green shaded flavours first, keep in mind some vegetables may belong to a few flavour profiles.
Most Australian children and adults consume most of their vegetable intake during dinner times, and most of us do not consume enough of our recommended daily intake of vegetables. Spreading your vegetable consumption throughout the day will expose your child to more vegetables and help in creating a more balanced approach to eating. Here are some ways to incorporate vegetables into every mealtime:
Breakfast: Vegetable frittata, breakfast burrito, zucchini and carrots fritters
Lunch: Rice paper rolls, veggie pizza, veggie packed waffles
Dinner: Veggie noodle stir fry, zucchini lasagne, veggie burgers.
Snacks: Vegetable muffins, vegetable slice, crunchy veg and dip,
Special treats: Chocolate and beetroot cake, pumpkin and coconut muffins, chocolate zucchini slice.
Not only should you serve vegetables at every meal, but you should also ask your kids to help with serving them. Ask them to fill up their plates and your plate with what they think a healthy meal looks like. This will help start a conversation with your child as to why vegetables are important, being more mindful of what they are eating and expose them to a variety of different vegetables. If you are eating out, try to include a salad or side of vegetables for your child to serve amongst the table, this will help form healthy habits where vegetables at every meal becomes normal.
Young children learn so much through their senses, especially through their little fingers that like to touch and play with everything. Encourage this exploration by cutting up vegetables into smaller pieces or different shapes for them to enjoy. You will be surprised the difference a crinkle vegetable cutter can make to vegetables from a child’s imagination.
Our All Systems Go module explores the human body helping children to understand healthy fuel and why food and nutrition is so important in our lives.