They go together like oil and water.
Look, there’s no doubt that getting your kids to eat their vegetables can be tough. So to help, Here are a few strategies that can help you survive dinner time, all whilst helping you positively build your child’s relationship with their food.
This only really works when they’re very young, because past a certain age kids unfortunately get wise to this tactic, and it can end up doing more harm than good. If you’ve got very young ones, grated/food processed/blitzed vegetables are just as nutritious as their whole counterparts, so sneaking them into pasta sauces or other dishes is an excellent way to boost the nutrient content of a meal without the little ones knowing!
Let Them Play
I talked last week about how much I loved the mess my daughter makes at mealtimes (jokes it still drives me insane), but trying to learn to embrace it is very important as playing and exploring with their food is actually an integral part of their development and the building of their relationship with food. Play is how most children learn, so by trying to keep dinner time too structured, and stopping them playing with their food we’re unfortunately limiting this growth and development. Embrace the mess!
Serve with a ‘Safe’ Food
If your goal over the next little while is to introduce broccoli to your child, serving them up a giant plate of broccoli is probably not going to go down too well. Instead, when introducing new foods, make sure there’s always at least one food on the plate that you know your child enjoys. Yes, this means there’s a huge chance they won’t eat it the first, second or even tenth time you put it out (if you haven’t started composting, now may be the time) but by keeping it on their radar, and placing any pressure on them to eat it, you’re allowing your child to discover this new food on their own terms.
Don’t Use Rewards
“You can’t have dessert until you’ve finished your vegetables”. That old chestnut. This is a really great way to make eating your vegetables a disgusting chore that you have to complete before you can be rewarded with a tasty dessert. This is definitely not the sort of association we want to build with our vegetables, so try and keep eating your vegetables and eating dessert as two totally unrelated things.
Take a Deep Breath
These strategies take time, and can often end up with your thoughtfully prepared meal sprayed out across the floor. It can be tough and is obviously very frustrating, but it’s vitally important that we don’t let this sense of frustration show in front of our children. We want to build a positive relationship around the dinner table, so I often find if I take a deep breath, step around the corner and silently scream down the hallway while repeating to myself “I am an adult, I am an adult” you can usually work through it. I believe in you!
Image taken from The Queensland Times