My advice is to keep calm and carry on because long-term studies prove that the vegetables your child eats now make an enormous difference to their health for the rest of their lives.
Here are some of my top tips to inspire little veggie lovers:
1. Create a rainbow plate.
Most little ones I see in my practice eat the same veggies each day. Whilst all vegetables are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to eat veggies from all the different colour groups to get the maximum benefit. We eat with our eyes first, so it makes sense to engage your child visually when encouraging them to eat more variety. Keep fresh and frozen produce on hand and get your child to create their own rainbow plate, filled with veggies from all the colour groups.
LISTEN: Holly’s son is eating vegetables thanks to a magical spinach pie. Post continues after audio.
2. Try one new veggie a week.
I usually find a strong connection between children who eat the same vegetables over and over and their parents who do the same. By expanding your own repertoire of vegetables you give your child an opportunity to see and taste a variety. You can also expand their range by including different vegetable groups. Try salad veggies, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and starchy vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato. While there’s nothing wrong with focusing on their favourite vegetables, it’s best not to forget there’s a huge selection out there, which given the chance, children may actually enjoy.
3. Include beans and legumes.
These are our most nutritious plant foods, high in proteins, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals. Beans are an excellent way to ensure optimum protein intake in vegetarians, prevent constipation and keep away diseases such as colon cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol. Hummus, lentil soup, bean stews and chickpea falafels are a fantastic way to introduce legumes to your child. To prevent bloating with “wind”, soak dried beans overnight in water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and then rinse before cooking, For canned varieties, look for BPA-free cans wherever possible and rinse well. Try kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils.