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Get Kids to Eat Healthier

You can train your kids to love vegetables but it helps to start young.

By
Monica Reinagel, M.S.,L.D./N,
May 6, 2009
Episode #042

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Be Sneaky (Too)

There’s another school of thought that says the best way to get your kids to eat more vegetables is to trick them into it. You might remember hearing about a cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld called Deceptively Delicious. It’s full of sneaky recipes like chocolate cake made with pureed beets and macaroni and cheese made with a stealth helping of cauliflower.

I wouldn’t base my entire game plan on this approach, however. While you might sneak some extra vegetables into your kids, you run the risk that at the end of the day, you’ll still have kids who will only eat chocolate cake and macaroni and cheese. In other words, you’re improving their nutrition status, but not their eating habits. And, let’s face it: Most of the chocolate cake and macaroni and cheese that they’re going to encounter throughout their lives is not going to include pureed vegetables!

I think there’s a lot to be said for bringing up kids that appreciate the color, texture, and flavor of vegetables. However, if grating zucchini into the pancakes and carrots into the hamburgers helps you get a few extra servings of vegetables into them (and you!), no-one loses.

Walk the Walk

Finally, kids have an uncanny—and irritating—ability to detect hypocrisy. It does not escape them when you deliver that sanctimonious lecture about how important it is to have a good breakfast, and then grab half a pop-tart on your way out the door. You have to walk the walk here. If you want your kids to grow up with healthy eating habits, show them how it’s done.

For more tips on getting kids to eat healthy, my Quick and Dirty Tips compatriot Mighty Mommy has an episode of her show devoted to this topic as well.

Administrative

If you have a suggestion for a future show topic send an email to nutrition@quickanddirtytips.com.  Please include the topic of your question in the subject line of your email. You can also post comments and questions on my Nutrition Diva Facebook Page

I answer a lot of listener questions in my free weekly newsletter, so if you’ve already sent a question, be sure you’re signed up to receive that.  You can also find me on Twitter.

Have a great day and have your kids eat something good for me!

RESOURCES: 

My interview on kids and obesity with Ben Greenfield (the interview starts about 20 minutes into the show)

Girl with Carrots image courtesy of Shutterstock

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