Snack time is a special moment for children. Nuggets, french fries, chips, and sweets are some of the most popular snacks for kids. Do you notice how their faces always light up when they’re served any of these treats? But just like any meal, you should consider serving them healthier alternatives.
Adding vegetables is the easiest way to do it. Veggies keep children’s bodies healthy and strong. And they’re a reliable source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
But if your kid doesn’t like veggies, don’t worry, it’s not uncommon, and it’s not without scientific merit. Over millennia, our ancestors evolved a gene that makes toxic plants taste bitter, thus deterring us from eating them. Chances are children haven’t yet learned which plants are safe to eat, so they have a stronger aversion to bitter tastes. By the time they turn 20, this would have changed, and your children may have eventually developed tolerance (and enjoyment) for vegetables.
But why wait that long if you can get started now? Here are some tips and tricks to get your child to snack healthier.
1. Lead by Example
You are your child’s first role model, so when you want to snack on a bag of chips, go for the hummus and carrot sticks in the fridge instead. When your child sees this as a regular habit (one that you enjoy!), they will begin to emulate you. How about sharing snacks? A bowl of steamed edamame while watching TV would be a great alternative to salty chichirya.
2. Consistently Feed Them Healthy Snacks for Kids
Getting your child to enjoy vegetables doesn’t happen overnight. There will be arguments, bargaining, and tears before the habit takes root. But soldier on and continue reintroducing vegetables into your child’s diet. If they dislike celery, for example, how about spreading cheese pimiento dip on some sticks? Cheese can make vegetables palatable to a young child. If you continue to exert effort, your child could eventually change their mind about vegetables.
3. Don’t Hesitate to Praise Your Child
Positive reinforcement works! If you shower your child with praise when they try vegetables, they are more likely to eat them again. But don’t go overboard. Praise a child only for what they did, and remember to be encouraging, not over the top.
Pro tip: While positive reinforcement is encouraged, don’t bribe your child. Just because your child ate squash doesn’t mean he can have chocolate cake for dessert. Bribery can result in lifelong bad eating habits like overeating.
4. Get Your Child Involved
Make your child your sous chef. Have them wash vegetables or arrange them on the plate. Or mix the salad dressing. How about preparing a quick aioli dipping sauce with Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic? When they’ve been a part of the process of creating yummy snacks, they’re more inclined to eat what they prepared. You can even take them to the supermarket to shop for ingredients. Seeing the different kinds of vegetables available might inspire them to try something new.
Make it fun and interactive: How about pizza and tacos for afternoon snacks? Cut up and place all ingredients in separate bowls so kids can decide what goes into their pizza or taco. Cut the veggies into different shapes and make sure there is a variety of colors.
5. Be Creative in the Kitchen
Do you know that children aged 4 to 13 should consume around two to four cups of vegetables every day? Now, get sneaky! Slip some vegetables into dishes you know your child loves to snack on. Try blending veggies into a smoothie or mixing them into pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti.
Another idea is to prepare vegetable noodles using zucchini noodles or squash. However, know that sneaking ingredients into your child’s diet this way does not help them love veggies. It just gets them used to eating it a certain way. Make sure you get your child to eat their greens in other forms.
For example, tomatoes: Your child may like having tomato soup but won’t like tomatoes in their raw form in salads. So try serving tomatoes in other ways—you can even make it the base or crust of a pizza.
Healthy snacks for kids can be fried, baked, frozen, or however else you may want to cook them. They don’t need to be vegetarian, raw, or carb-free. Start early and begin offering vegetables to your child when they’re still toddlers. The important thing is to reinforce good eating habits over the years until they become common practice.
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