In the first part of this series, I asked the question - are kids really pickier than they were when we were growing up? I don't think picky eating is a new issue.
Our generation just seems more concerned about it than our parents were. Parents these days are so worried about their children going hungry or being malnourished. While in some cases, this can be a real concern, the majority of children will not starve themselves.
I think that in past generations, there was not as much power given to kids regarding mealtime and what was being served. Children either ate what they were given, or if they did not like it, they may have fed it to the dog, or hid the food under their napkin, but there was never any short-order cooking.
If your child is showing an aversion to vegetables, don't ignore this. Just find a gentle approach to teach them to appreciate their veggies.
Here are a few simple ways to encourage your kids to explore more vegetables:
1. Show your child where veggies come from: Taking you child to the supermarket with you is great, but this in not where food really comes from. Take your child to a farm or a vegetable garden - or even better - start your own vegetable garden. Kids love watching the plants grow, digging up potatoes, pulling carrots out of the ground and really just getting their hands dirty! Getting involved in this way will get them really excited about vegetables and they will look at them in a whole new way.
2. Hire your child as a sous-chef: Involve your child in preparing their meals and snacks. It will not only help them to become more independent as they get older, but it will give them a sense of accomplishment and they will take some ownership over what has been prepared. This will increase the likelihood of them actually tasting the finished product.
3. Set an example: You cannot expect your kids to eat their vegetables if you are not willing to do the same. So make sure to include a healthy portion of veggies on your plate and lead by example!
My advice: Mealtime should not be turned into a battleground so do not try to force your child to eat their vegetables. They will eat them when they are ready so be sure to continue offering, but without pressure.
Check out the first part of this series for other tips.
Aviva Allen is a Kids' Nutritionist specializing in helping parents deal with their picky eaters. Click here to find out more about nutritional consultations for picky eaters.