6 proven ways to get your kids to eat their veggies

Kids and healthy eating. It can feel like an oxymoron.

They might be fussy eaters, sweet tooths or just not like anything green!

They might never be ‘hungry’ for healthy food but always hungry for junk food.

They might refuse to eat a perfectly healthy and tasty meal that you’ve lovingly prepared and take advantage when you’re tired and busy and need to take a short-cut with meal times.

So how are children’s eating habits developed?

And can we really shape our children’s eating or do we have little control?

A new review of research shows that as parents we can have a big influence on the food culture in our families. And everything begins in pregnancy.

Food in pregnancy

There is an increasing amount of research to show that the food we eat in pregnancy has an impact on our children’s eating habits.

When we regularly consume particular foods and flavours in pregnancy, our babies in utero are getting a taste for those same foods and flavours.

Our kids are then more likely to enjoy those foods when they begin eating solids.

We select foods that make up our family diet

We shop for, prepare and cook the food for our family. We are the ones who decide what arrives on our children’s plate.

The more children are exposed to certain foods, the more likely they are to accept them into their diet.

Children are more likely to be vegetable-eaters if there are lots of vegetables available in the home.

We role-model healthy eating

Our children are keen observers of the way we eat and what we eat.

Every time we prepare a meal or eat vegetables or grab a quick snack, we are showing our children how to eat.

They are watching what we choose to eat and how we choose to eat it.

We shape eating behaviours

Do you eat in front of the TV? Do you sit at the dinner table or propped up in the kitchen?

Do you have any rituals around eating or do meal times just fit around busy schedules?

Do children have to ask to leave the table?

These are all examples of how we set patterns of behaviour around eating and sharing meals.

We set the amount of food

We can be guilty of over-eating at times. And we can also be inadvertently instilling over-eating in our children.

Research has shown that if children are given too much food, they are more likely to eat too much food.

That means that portion sizes are important for adults and children.

We want to feed our kids but we also want them to learn when they’re full and they don’t need another mouthful.

We can set the boundaries

Research has shown that when parents set firm boundaries around food, children grow up with healthier food habits.

Setting boundaries includes seeing unhealthy foods are occasional treats and not giving in to our children’s pestering.

It’s about being loving and responsive to our kids needs without allowing them to run the food show.

So how do we get our kids to eat their vegetables and grow up healthily? We eat healthy foods ourselves (beginning in pregnancy), we encourage family rituals around preparing healthy food and eating together, and we don’t give in to their pester power.

What would you like to try in your home?

Adding more veggies to their plate? Or sneaking some veggies into foods they already eat like spaghetti bolognese?

Noticing how you eat and what you might be role modelling?

Having more family meals around the dinner table?

Giving your kids a good amount of food but not expecting them to finish it all if they’re not hungry?

Standing firm and not giving in to your child’s pester power?

Jodie Benveniste

Let's hear from you

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *