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Did you know that a healthy diet can help manage stress? Some foods are known to reduce stress, actually giving us a sense of calm. On the other hand, there are certain types of foods that can trigger anxious feelings like fried foods, high glycemic carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, pretzels, potatoes), unrefined sugars, and caffeine. These are foods we certainly want our children to avoid.
One way to ensure that your children are eating a well-balanced diet is to give them lots of fruits and vegetables, especially greens. This can be challenging because a lot of kids do not like eating their vegetables. (Think of the babies who throw their peas on the floor.)
We want our children to eat a proper diet providing them with the right vitamins and minerals because we know how important healthy eating is for a strong body and mind. So, when our little ones refuse to eat their greens, we get stressed. Here are some creative ways to make the veggie battle a whole lot easier in your home.
Sneak Veggies Into Their Food
Sometimes parents have to be sneaky in the best interest of our children. To get more vegetables into your children’s diet, try sneaking vegetables into their food. By making all of your family’s meals from scratch, you can pack vegetables into every meal.
For example, as a base for pasta sauces, curries, stews, and chilis, combine canned tomatoes with chopped onion, carrot, red pepper, and other fresh produce. As long as it is all blended up, your kids will never know that their food is packed with vegetables. Once blended, throw in herbs, spices, and stock to add lots of flavor. Cooking these sauces from scratch is actually incredibly easy. It’s not as time-consuming or as expensive as you would think, especially if you choose to batch cook and make up a few jars of sauce at once.
Teach Them To Cook
Another way to encourage your children to eat more healthy foods is to bring them into the kitchen with you and teach them how to cook. Chances are if your kids help make something, then they will be more apt to want to try it. By teaching them to cook, you can encourage them to eat more vegetables.
For example, what if your little ones do not like carrots and refuse to eat them? You could teach them to make lasagne and add carrots into the sauce. Because they helped make the lasagne, they will probably be excited to try their creation even if it contains carrots.
Besides teaching your kids about different foods, cooking with them also allows them to learn how to prepare and cook a meal. The experience teaches them how to use different tools and utensils safely, such as how to heat up pebble frying pans to fry vegetables or how to use a blender. Cooking is an important life skill that all kids should learn. Cooking also encourages kids to try new things, especially if you turn it into a game and make it fun, such as by holding a competition between your kids to see who is willing to try the most new foods.
Finally, cooking is a wonderful creative outlet for children and a way for the whole family to have fun together. The kitchen is the perfect place to laugh and be silly, whether your are putting flour on each other’s noses or licking the batter from the bowl.
Grow Your Own Produce
Another way to encourage your kids to eat healthy is to start growing your own produce. Gardening is a great way to get our kids to spend more time outside in nature. It is also a way to instill an appreciation for where food comes from and the work involved in making every meal we enjoy.
If you have the room in your garden, consider creating a vegetable patch, an herb garden, and planting a few fruit trees. We just started growing tomatoes and peppers in our backyard and my daughter loves tending to the plants by watering them everyday and checking to see if any vegetables have sprouted yet. We also have a lemon tree and love picking fresh, fragrant lemons to squeeze into our water.
When children are part of growing their own food, they will want to taste it. After all, trying food that you have grown yourself is exciting. So, if you want to encourage your kids to try new fruits and vegetables and eat healthy, start your own family garden.
Getting your kids to eat their greens is not impossible, even if it seems like it at times. Sometimes it just takes getting a little creative to get them jazzed up about the foods on their plate.
How do you encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables?