Mason County News
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Family Times
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 • Posted June 9, 2010

Getting Your Child to Like Fruits and Veggies (Again!)

When parents say their child doesn’t like fruits and vegetables, I try to imagine why. After all, didn’t that same little human being love eating pureed green beans, sweet potatoes, and applesauce as a 9-month old?

If the answer is yes, there is hope. The biggest difference between green beans then and now is that back then your baby didn’t have fierce competition from other more exciting foods (i.e. chips, cookies, sodas, etc.). The key is to eliminate the competition and elevate the value of fruits and veggies in the home.

Consider these ideas:

Take charge of the grocery cart and limit the purchase of highly-salted, highly sugared foods.

Let your kids see you eating fruits and veggies.

Serve the veggies first. I get my daughter to eat foods she isn’t really crazy about by serving them to her when she’s really hungry at the beginning of the meal.

Make fruits and vegetables readily available for snacking. Keep a bowlof bananas or freshly washed grapes on the counter for "snitching." I saw an ad the other day for a new refrigerator with a special drawer, just at kid level, that they had filled with cut up fruits and veggies.

Involve your children in food prep. Let the little ones pour baby carrots into a serving bowl and supervise as the older ones make a veggie pizza. Involving children in food prep often results in better eating at mealtime.

Help your child be a "self-regulator". Children eat best when not pressured to eat or even when praised for eating. Ellyn Satter, RD, LSW, promotes the concept called "Division of Responsibility". You, as parents, provide healthy food in a pleasant atmosphere. It is up to your child to decide what and how much to eat.

Forcing food doesn’t work. Making a child stay at the table until she has eaten those cold, limp Brussels sprouts will not help her learn to like them. It will make him hate those veggies even more!

Make fruit and vegetable desserts. Anything from fruit cocktail over cottage cheese to homemade apple pie with a healthy crust can increase the "wow factor" of fruit in children’s eyes.

Honor your child’s food preferences. Serve their favorite fruits and veggies often.

Rename fruits and veggies "snacks". This builds a healthy snack habit for years to come.

Promote a "fruit or veggie" classroom snack policy at your child’s school. This makes healthy eating the norm!

Sometimes it takes multiple "tastes" before a child learns to like new foods, so tell him that he needs to at least taste the food and that perhaps his taste buds just "aren't old enough" to like them yet - explain that taste buds do mature with age.

Sometimes cooked veggies are stronger in flavor than those that are raw (they often taste different raw vs cooked anyway), so consider having him try them raw first.

Get your children involved in the preparation and cooking process. This will help him learn about healthy eating and be more excited about his fruits and vegetables.

And while it sounds like you're doing many of these things, just keep doing them - it will eventually "catch on." Setting a good example and having it available, especially when he's hungry, and you'd be surprised what gets eaten!

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