It’s certainly no secret that we’re on the cusp of an obesity epidemic here in the UK, and children are particularly vulnerable. Indeed, around 16% of children aged 2 to 15 years old are categorised as suffering from obesity, with another 14% overweight. That’s one third in total; clearly, something needs to give. But rather than stigmatising, limiting and banning, it’s time to encourage more positive habits. One way is to make the healthier stuff more appealing and delicious. Here’s how; our 4 IDEAL ways to get your kids eating more vegetables.
GROW YOUR OWN
For parents concerned about their child’s diets, the benefits of growing your own produce at home are myriad. You can exercise control over the pesticides, growth hormones and other chemicals used in crop production. What’s more, you can eliminate plastic use by simply strolling into your back garden and picking what you need with your hands. Moreover, you’ll dig the savings, as a plot as small as 4ft x 4ft (1.2m x 1.2m) could potentially, with a lot of time, effort, supply vegetables all year round for as little as £50. Awesome.
And that’s before we talk about getting your child involved in the growing. By allowing them their own plot to tend to each day, the little ones will be involved in the process from the start, learning an appreciation of all of the hard work which goes into planting, tending to, nurturing and finally picking the crop. Suddenly, vegetables won’t be viewed as something to be avoided.
A very different approach, this, but one as old as time itself. Indeed, parents have been sneaking vegetables into their kids’ meals since records began. The most effective ways to do this is via smoothies; a bright, vibrant drink doesn’t seem nearly as off putting to a child’s idiosyncrasies as the full, intimidating vegetable in its natural state. Ditto purees, whose smoothness can be particularly palatable.
Another method, depending on your knife skills of course, is to chop up vegetables incredibly small and mix them in with elements of the dinner more favoured. Gradually, you can increase the size of the cut along with its distribution. Sneaky, we know, but sometimes you have to be. If all else fails, consider a supporting cast of the best vitamins for children and supplements to ensure your child is getting the nutrition they need.
Another way to bring about a new relationship with the clean, green stuff is to get your kids involved in the cooking process. By offering a little choice as to what the meal might be, you give your child a sense of autonomy. Once they’ve put their cooking skills to good use (supervised, of course), that will turn into a sense of pride – they’re not going to turn their nose up at their own creations, now are they?
If unleashing your child on your kitchen sounds too stressful, how about a dinner of interesting dips, with vegetable crudites (carrot and celery sticks, cucumber slices, asparagus spears) as the cutlery? Whilst it will seem like a real treat to be eating with their hands and choosing what to have next, they’ll be getting loads of nutrition in the process. Result!
A FEW WHITE LIES
Hey, the odd white lie never hurt right? Especially if it’s getting your child to eat more of the good stuff. Some of the classics include promises of a better eyesight through carrots, spinach bringing super strength (thankyou Popeye) and Santa favouring those who eat their vegetables.
If this fibbing makes you feel uncomfortable, then why not simply highlight the real benefits of a vegetable heavy diet through some fun facts. Bananas, for instance, are eaten by all the greatest athletes, as they give a real energy boost. And purple produce like blueberries and eggplant are great for boosting memory; perfect for acing that school test tomorrow!