How to get kids to eat more veggies?

So, just how do you convince your child to eat more veggies?


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It's easy really. You might even be doing it now.

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IF you want your children to eat their greens, you may need to pick up your fork and dig in yourself.

Wagga dietitian and mother of three Mikayla Madden said modelling good eating was one of the best ways of helping children to develop good eating habits.

"I know studies show that only around 5 per cent of kids are meeting their veggie guidelines. It's actually not much different with adults meeting their dietary requirements for vegetables in particular," Ms Madden said.

GROWING UP: Will Howard, 4, and Max Lancaster, 5, with a jar of snow pea seedlings they germinated and grew at St Mary's Rainbow preschool. Picture: Emma Hillier

GROWING UP: Will Howard, 4, and Max Lancaster, 5, with a jar of snow pea seedlings they germinated and grew at St Mary's Rainbow preschool. Picture: Emma Hillier

"If we're not eating them as parents, how can we expect our kids to eat veggies?

"If you're only having veggies once a day - and this goes for adults too - you're never going to meet your requirements. Try to include veggies at other times of the day.

"The goods news is that if you eat it as a parent and you give your kids lots of exposure, over time they will grow to enjoy the same foods as you, all from very little pressure.

"What is really important is the exposure and the enjoyment of food. That can involve food play. Here at Community Health, we encourage a lot of food play.

"That means generally getting pretty messy. Not much might go in the mouth, but it's a really enjoyable experience for kids and what it does is bring those foods they might not be too sure on, even closer and up to the mouth, so they are getting the smells, the textures, the feel of it."

 Wagga dietitian and mother of three Mikayla Madden. Picture: Jody Lindbeck

Wagga dietitian and mother of three Mikayla Madden. Picture: Jody Lindbeck

Ms Madden said some parents opted to try to "hide" veggies in their children's food.

"In terms of sneaking food in and sneaking those veggies in, from a nutritional point of view, it helps us as parents to feel like we're getting veggies into fussy kids, but kids don't learn how to eat some of those foods if we are always hiding them, so I encourage doing a bit of both," she said.

"Also, a child might eat really well one day and be really fussy the next, so try to look at it over a week."

Getting pretty messy and learning about where their veggies come from is part of the daily routine at St Mary's Rainbow Preschool.

Four-year-olds Evie Manning and Willow Jones tend the veggie patch at St Mary's Rainbow Preschool. Picture: Emma Hillier

Four-year-olds Evie Manning and Willow Jones tend the veggie patch at St Mary's Rainbow Preschool. Picture: Emma Hillier

In St Mary's outdoor space, the children have gardens and a veggie patch. They even have two free-range chickens.

Director Sharon Gill said the children hear about the whole growing process from learning to identify and plant seeds to tending the garden, then harvesting and eating their own veggies.

"They learn where their food comes from," Ms Gill said.

The children are also able to see their veggies - items like snow peas and tomatoes - turned into healthy snacks.

They are also able to enjoy dishes made with eggs from their chickens.

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