4 ways to get your child to eat their greens

Any parent knows what a struggle it can be to get your child to eat things that aren’t filled with sugar, like the dreaded vegetable. Children seem to have a natural dislike to the greens especially, which are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, according to Rosie Chiappetta P.Dt, dietitian at the Lester B. Pearson School Board, this aversion is not exclusive to vegetables. “It’s the same with every new food,” she said. Chiappetta noted that several of these leafy greens are an acquired taste. If you’re having a hard time getting your child to toss aside the junk food to indulge in some healthy, leafy vegetables, here are four ways to get your child to eat their greens.

1-Set an example
As children are sensitive and susceptible to the behaviours of those around them at a young age, a great way to get them to eat what seems like their sworn enemy is to lead by example. “Parents are role models,” Chiappetta says. “If they eat their veggies, their children will follow.” Once your child recognizes a certain food as edible and enjoyable, chances are they will be more eager to try it for themselves.

2-Follow a routine
Simply put, humans generally react better to experiences where there is some sort of pattern. Irregular eating patterns might cause your child to reach for the unhealthy snacks as a way to get their stomach to stop grumbling. Chiappetta suggests eating as a family at set times. “They are more likely to come to the table hungry and eat their veggies,” she says.

3-Don’t force them to finish
Pressuring your child into eating everything on their plate can negatively affect their view of what’s on it. One bad experience can lead to them constantly associating negative feelings to that food and your child might never try it again. That being said, giving a little push with words of encouragement can prove to be just the right amount of support to get your child to try something new.

4-Make food fun
Children thrive on fun and games and a wild imagination. Even Popeye believed that spinach would give him enough strength to save Olive Oyl. Attributing things like special abilities and superpowers to a certain vegetable can encourage your child to eat it. Don’t promise too much though; this can backfire if the powers don’t come through! “Make veggies fun by cutting them in fun shapes, or arrange them on a plate like a heart or happy face,” Chiappetta suggests as another creative way of getting your child’s sworn enemies down the hatch.

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