Children and Veggies

April 4, 2017 in General, Health by Joyce Bunderson

In a special health care section of the February 27, 2017 Wall Street Journal, there was an article called: How Schools Can Get Children to Eat Their Vegetables: Researchers have discovered that a few small tricks can make a big difference. The article reminds me of a book that I’ve written about in the past: Eat Your Vegetables” and other mistakes parents make: Redefining how to Raise Healthy Eaters. It’s still my all-time favorite book to recommend when parents ask me for help with natural ways to motivate children to eat healthy foods. One of the overarching concepts in Dr. Muth’s book is to deescalate food battles. She tells in detail how to do it. The above article starts right out saying and harranging, bribing, and pleading doesn’t work. Staying out of the usually ineffective “bribing”or “pleading” makes lots of sense to me.

Certainly, the urgency regarding the nation’s childhood-obesity rates, which have tripled since the 1970s, is critical. Although Muth’s book was published in 2012, it is still extremely relevant. There are some excellent points made in the WSJ article after dismissing what doesn’t work. I think those points can be helpful for individual parents, in addition, to schools to try out.

  • Naming foods and vegetable dishes in fun and creative ways. I’ve referred to my Raggedy Ann/Andy salads that my children happily constructed in past posts. But whatever or whoever is popular today would work just as well. Meals can be fun and enjoyable. When kids put it together or cook it, you really do get their buy-in.
  • Offering veggies when they are at their hungriest. At the beginning of the meal or when a snack is needed. The article mentioned offering cups of baby carrots before lunch. There’s no competition between other offerings at snack time.
  • Making games that involve food. The WSJ article listed Rainbow days, used by a Boulder Valley School District in Colorado. Doesn’t that ignite your creative juices? You could let the children shop with you to find the ‘rainbow’ making ingredients.
  • Using fun fruits and veggies. I’ve just recently enjoyed a very mild radish called “watermelon” radish.” I’ve used star fruit and the always-successful “Cuties.” There is precious few limits on what you can do, if you put your mind to the challenge.
  • Guessing games or identifying games could be useful. How does it smell? Does it crunch or slurp? Is it bumpy or smooth?
  • And the last hint that I gleaned from the WSJ article is to start early. Don’t wait; start while they’re still tots.

I’m really pleased that researchers are working on school lunches and how to motivate children to eat more vegetables and fruit. If you do access the WSJ article, don’t miss the little graphs at the bottom left of the page. It shows how the new standards have influenced children to actually consume more fruit and vegetables. If you have children and don’t have a copy of Muth’s book, it’s available from Amazon in paperback for less that $20.00.