Have you ever wondered why kids give us such a hard time about eating their veggies?
In the recent study, 70 percent of the kids tested were bitter-sensitive, meaning they don’t like bitter foods like broccoli and cucumber. Bitter-sensitive kids who were offered a dip ate 80 percent more vegetables than kids who weren’t given a dip. The findings held true regardless of the fat content of the dip, with kids consuming as many vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing as they did with a full fat version – good news for parents concerned about offering kids too much fat.
It’s a relief to know kids aren’t just trying to torture us by refusing to eat what’s good for them. And what’s more, now that we know what’s really getting in the way of our kids and their veggies, we can work around this “bitter taste” and we actually can get our kids to eat their veggies!
As your kids’ palates develop and you work to help them establish good eating habits, a little dip goes a long way, but there are a lot of things you can do to help kids learn to love their veggies. Here are some additional tips Tammy uses with her own kids.
1. Lead by example.
Let’s face it, one of many wonderful things about little kids is that they idolize their parents. (And I can tell you first hand that they go from idolizing you to being embarrassed to be seen with you way too fast!) So when they see you eating your veggies, they’ll want to be more like you and they’re more likely to eat their veggies.
2. Be persistent!
Tastes are acquired. And this isn’t just referring to the old saying about beer. This pertains to vegetables too! It can take up to 23 exposures to a vegetable before your child may eat it. So, put that broccoli, corn or carrots on your kids’ plate and continue to offer it and not make a fuss about it if your kid doesn’t eat it or like it. If your little one complains and says don’t give it to me, explain to them that it’s part of dinner and everyone in the family has some on their plate. The secret is to not make a big deal about it. (We know, this is easier said than done! But do your best and the results will speak for themselves.)
3. Make it fun!
Kids love to be entertained with foods–whether it’s train tracks in their mashed potatoes or for raisins in peanut butter and celery (a.k.a. “ants on a log”), kids are more likely to appreciate the food they eat if they enjoy the eating experience.
Slice carrots, bell peppers, broccoli stalks, celery and squash into strips and coins. Wash some cherry tomatoes. Use the vegetable pieces to make pictures–it can be anything–silly faces, an animal, a caterpillar, a boat, a stick figure or a snow man.
You can incorporate the dressing right into your picture. Put the dressing into a mini round dish and use it for a silly mouth or caterpillar section or a head for your stick figure. Your kids will have fun eating their veggies! One of Tammy’s kids’ favorites is when Tammy drizzles a little ranch dressing on their plates to make the hair on their silly vegetable face.
What do you do to get your kids to eat their veggies?