Proverbs tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." When it comes time to learn how to nourish their growing bodies properly, many of our children look to us to provide. Our children pick up many behaviors by copying us—and this is true when it comes to their eating habits. Research indicates that dietary habits can become established within our children as early as infancy. (1) Unfortunately, not all of us are parents to children who love to explore when it comes to what they eat. What can you do when your little one refuses to eat an apple or orange or has no interest in leafy greens? Undoubtedly, you're here because you've heard about the life-changing health benefits of the Hallelujah Diet and are already well into eating cleaner, more pure, organic, raw foods. However, it can be tough to get our kids to eat anything sometimes, and you might be wondering how to get your picky eaters to eat raw vegetables. There are ways you can attempt to make eating raw foods, like vegetables and fruits, more appealing. Just remember that different strategies work for different children. For example, you may have an 11-year-old that never truly enjoyed eating fruit that much—but have a 4-year-old that loves to eat every fruit you put in front of them. Your approach to the 11-year-old will be different from that of your 4-year-old.
How to Get Your Picky Eater to Eat Raw Vegetables
Get them involved in meal planning.
Getting your kids involved in creating their meals is a fantastic means of getting them excited to try new food. Children love to help in the kitchen, and in turn, they get to learn valuable life skills. Share your recipes with your kids and let them browse from books or the internet. This allows them to pick food that looks good to them. Additionally, if you have your own garden or are growing one, involve your little ones in tending and learning about what you are growing. Last but never least, involve them in food preparation, cooking, and baking as much as safely possible. Try and get your kids interested in where our food comes from, whether it's gardening, wild-fruit hunting, edible flowers, or growing pots of sprouts or herbs.
What are some of the benefits of getting your kids involved with meal planning?
- Help educate their palate. Many parents have undoubtedly run into older children not appreciating healthier, home-cooked food. Meal planning is an effective way to convert picky eaters.
- Promote decision-making skills. Involving your kids in the meal plan and prep can help hone their decision-making skills. This gives kids a sense of importance, which builds confidence and raises self-worth.
- Teach them the art of negotiation. Convincing your child to eat something they don't like involves trying to meet them in the middle. As they win some concessions and yield to others, they are subconsciously learning the art of negotiation.
- Showing love. Creating meals together and eating together as a family is guaranteed to help make your child feel loved.
Create raw or vegan versions of their favorite familiar foods.
What dishes do your kids tend to love? Is it spaghetti, fish fingers and fries, burgers, or mac and cheese? Whichever they are most familiar with or tend to be their favorite, why not try making a vegan version of it to see if you can get them interested in trying more veggies in their diet? Feel free to try new recipes, but make sure to incorporate flavors close to those they are familiar with and enjoy the most for an easier transition. Try to go completely meatless once a week by embracing a GMO-free, non-processed vegan meat or cheese alternative to introduce healthier options.
Give your kids choices.
Offer options that allow them to pick from items you are okay with no matter which they choose. Let your kids choose between red, yellow, or green peppers in a salad or side. This is also another fantastic opportunity to bond with kids and establish a connection with your child.
Let your kids help with smoothie making.
Sometimes our little ones have issues with textures regarding certain foods. You might encourage them to try more raw fruits and veggies by making them smoothies. Involve them in the process just as you would with meal planning or cooking. Set out fruits and vegetables that work well together, and let your kids choose what to mix and make together. If they're old enough, you can even let them help in making the smoothie.
One surefire way to have your hopes for eating raw vegetables or fruit fail is trying to force or bargain with your child to eat. For example. "If you have just three more bites of this, you can have dessert." This sends a message to kids that the core part of the meal will always be a drag and is just a step to get to the 'better' stuff like deserts. You want to teach kids that a good meal of healthy, delicious food is the reward itself. Punishing our children for refusing food equates to a negative experience with eating, which is what we don't want to do.
There's no shame in being sneaky if you must.
As a last resort, you can hide nutritious foods in tasty preparations. It's easy to add lightly steamed or pureed blended high-nutrient veggies into favorite sauces and dishes. It's incredible how many blended vegetables can be pureed into soups like sweet potatoes, squash, green veggies, and even onions.
Persistence without pushiness pays off.
Even kids eager to eat more raw vegetables and fruits can still be picky about them. For picky eaters, always start small and introduce less challenging veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and corn. Continue to put veggies on the table and incorporate them into different dishes; experiment with raw fruit desserts and smoothies but don't make a big deal of it. Familiarity often breeds acceptance, and studies have shown that the 'clean your plate' rule over the long run can backfire. We hope that these tips on how to get your picky eaters to eat raw vegetables and healthier foods inspire and help you.
Sources: 1. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/nutrition-month/index.html