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Get your picky, grain-eating kid to eat more vegetables

Many kids eat only a few foods – which are typically grain-based carbs like break and pasta or mac ‘n cheese. Is there anything really wrong with this? The doctor says he’s healthy. He seems healthy. Do you really need to worry about getting your picky grain-eating kid to eat more vegetables?

Why your kid should eat more vegetables

Ask yourself. Does your kid:

  • have allergies, asthma or chronic congestion?
  • struggle with eczema or dry skin?
  • have headaches, digestive issues or erratic behavior?
  • struggle to poop at least once daily?
  • talk incessantly or have difficulty concentrating?
  • struggle with depression, acne or other symptoms you would love to wash away?

If you answer yes to any of these, then adding vegetables to your kid’s diet could be your answer, and will certainly help.

Veggies provide:

  • fiber to help us poop (i.e. extra toxins),
  • protein, a macro nutrient we need, along with healthy carbs and fats,
  • antioxidants to prevent and fight inflammation and sickness and
  • vitamins and minerals to help our bodies function properly.

On the other hand, though they can provide fiber, grains can cause inflammation – the root of most sicknesses and diseases. Often, gluten in particular can cause or exacerbate depression, acne, skin problems, joint issues and more. 

Vegetable recommendations

The USDA recommends 5 to 13 servings of vegetables each day. But newer food pyramids suggest that veggies and fruits should make up 75% of our diets, with fruits being 25% at most. 

Truth of it is

Now, I like to reference the Bible when trying to figure out answers. And they ate loads of loaves of bread in biblical days! So why would this be any different now? Grains are from the earth after all.

I don’t think grains themselves are bad for us. But I do think the typical ways they are grown and made, especially in the U.S., are not good for us. So unless they are made from sources I know haven’t been modified or tainted, it’s not a chance I want to take.

We also live in different environments than in biblical times. We are busier – too busy – with more pollution, chemicals and man-made stuff that doesn’t necessarily respect our earth, not to mention our bodies.

So our bodies tolerate less. They break down more. We turn on our bad genes, have babies and pass down our new, less healthy genes and so on. Ben Lynch’s book, Dirty Genes, discusses this phenomenon at length.

So how do we get our picky, carb-eating kids to eat more veggies and fewer grains?

How to get your kid to eat more vegetables

  1. Educate them. Share this blog or another. Explain that feeling OK now doesn’t mean a poor diet won’t catch up to them and cause sickness or disease.
  2. Lead by example. Start with baby steps if needed, like I did. But now, we often eat veggies for our weekend breakfasts, too. We always eat them for lunch and 1-3 of them for dinner. Make them always try 2 bites of a new vegetable. Did you know it could take 22 or more exposures to a food before someone might grow to like it?  For more ways to incorporate veggies, read 10 ways to get your kids to eat vegetables.
  3. Supplement. Whole food is always best. Food (or avoidance of) as medicine, instead of a pill, is always best. But if you need to supplement, give him something of high quality like Juice Plus+, which provides needed nutrients while possibly changing his taste buds, too. If you use the capsules, it’s powdered vegetables only. If he eats the gummies, he’s getting some added sugar but that’s better than no veggies!
  4. Be consistent. Eat veggies at every meal (at least lunch and dinner for starters). No seconds or treats till veggies are eaten. Yes, I make exceptions for kids’ parties or occasional dinners out, but I often have them eat veggies at home before or after. Plus, I do have my kiddos take the Juice Plus+ because I know we don’t eat 13 servings per day.

Our bodies are ours for life. Teach your kid to respect hers and explain why veggies are so critical to her livelihood. Lead by example. Try new foods together. Have fun with this and know you are doing what’s best.

Know that you are minimizing the toxins in your body instead of adding to them. 

You are teaching your kid invaluable lessons. 

  • Eat what you need vs. want. 
  • Do what’s right in the eyes of God. 
  • Be a good steward of your body. 
  • You can lead and make a difference in someone else’s life and wellness. 

You are taking preventive measures – protecting against illness and disease. Even if you don’t see the results you want right away, I have faith you will soon! 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.

image from ourkidsmagazine.com 

healthier eaters blog

10 ways to get your kids to eat vegetables

Does trying to get your kids to eat vegetables where you down? Maybe that’s why breakfast does not typically include vegetables – it’s simply too torturous to begin our days with that fight! But 40-50% of our diets should be vegetables. So how do you get your kids to stop looking at them like the most evil super villain and eat them?

How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?

  1. Start them young. In fact, in Digested, Dr. Laurie Berger advises to start your baby on root veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes that are easier for him to digest, as opposed to oat or rice cereal.
  1. Be persistent. According to this article on webmd.com, it can take up to 10 times of seeing a new food before a child will even try it. That’s not counting the other 10 times it takes of trying a new food before a child can determine whether he likes it. This effort needs to be a crusade, parents – not just a couple of sporadic fights.
  1. Add veggies to smoothies, casseroles or frittatas. “Sneaking” them is bound to backfire. But if you add them without creating a scene, it can help get your kids an extra serving of nutritious veggies. Just don’t make this your main method of getting your kids to eat vegetables.
  1. Gget your kids to eat vegetableset your kids involved in growing and preparing veggies. Feed their natural tendencies to be curious and eager to please.
  1. Cut them stat! Wash and cut the fresh veggies as soon as you get home from the store, so they will be ready for your kids (and you) the minute you get hungry for a snack. Add hummus or a healthy nut butter to change it up once in a while.
  1. Limit other choices. During snacks or meals, give kids several veggies to choose from instead of chips, cookies, crackers, mac ‘n cheese and other carb-olicious sides.
  1. Enforce. Make sure your kids eat their veggies before getting seconds on other foods – as a matter of health, respect to the chef and avoiding waste. Sometimes tough love is needed. During his more stubborn times, I’ve given my kid the same vegetable 3 meals in a row until he finally ate it – it even went to school for lunch one day. Finally, he realized he didn’t have a choice in this matter and that vegetables are that important. Now I would never do this with a baby and I would not let an older child go an entire day without food – use your instincts but know that he’s often just playing the control game.
  1. Experiment. Little did I know that my 4-year old would like spinach better than spring mix! Also try different cooking techniques to see if your child likes veggies better raw, steamed, grilled or sautéed. Let her add condiments or cheese in moderation. Send steamed veggies in school lunch if she doesn’t like them raw – temperature may not matter.
  1. Set a family standard. My kids brought a book home from school about the “two-bite club”, so that’s what we expect from them. Use a chart and reward system if you need. If it’s a new food, remind them they will have to try 2 bites up to 10 different times before they can decide whether they really like it or not.
  1. Lead by example. None of these other tips will help one bit if you don’t make veggies a major part of your own meals and snacks. NEVER discourage your child from trying something even if he has hated it a hundred times – unless of course he is allergic to it. Refrain from making hideous faces when you try something you don’t like in front of him. Serve veggies you don’t like and be sure to try 2 bites in front of him!

Getting your kids to eat vegetables can be a bit like the ol’ Dog Whisperer TV program. Sometimes you have to retrain the owners before the dogs will cooperate! Remember that kids pick up on our every word, facial gesture and tone of voice from a very early age. Lead by example and make it your long-term mission to get your kids on board with healthier eating habits.

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.