Any Parents Out There Struggling to Get More Veggies on The Dinner Plate?
For many of my clients and their families, eating more fruits and vegetables can be a huge challenge. Under-eating foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can contribute to deficiencies, chronic disease, and weight management issues. There are multiple factors contributing to the adult and childhood obesity rates, however I believe the excessive amounts of processed foods is a big contributor. One of the first things I prioritize with family meal planning is rearranging the plate to include more plant-based foods.
5 Tips for Healthier Family Meals:
- Make it fun or a game. Get creative, it could be as simple as reading a book or creating an activity. Try Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and add spinach to eggs. Make it a game, like wearing green or red to the grocery store and have your child pick out a piece of produce to match the color they are wearing.
2. Make mealtime a family event.
When eating on the go or at fast food restaurants, it’s not always easy to order or bring fresh fruits and veggies. When you sit down with your kids and set the example at family meal time, they will be apt to trying new foods. Don’t lose hope if they turn a food down the first time, sometimes it takes a few trials or a different method of cooking.
3. Give them the opportunity and independence to choose. My favorite way to add vegetables is using them as toppings to familiar and fun meals. For example, on taco or pizza night, have multiple festive bowls full of veggie toppings for the kids to pick out what they want. This gives them independence, control and more choices. It’s important to respect your child’s appetite as well vs. forcing them to eat the healthier items on their plate.
4. Plan your snacks.
Letting kids munch all day on processed junky stuff can prevent them from having an appetite at meals, which could lead to disinterest in new foods. Snacks should include a colorful variety of cut up fruits and vegetables that are easy to eat. Draw faces on tangerines, try ants on a log with celery and peanut butter, use Greek yogurt dips with pepper slices, change it up!
5. Sneak the fruits and vegetables in.
With all the new options like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles it’s easier for parents to sneak veggies in. Even for adults this can be a great method. Don’t let this be your only strategy though, kids should still learn to include fruits and vegetables so they don’t avoid them as they get older. Adding cauliflower rice to a sloppy joe mix, throwing spinach in a smoothie or using shredded carrots in a burger patty are all great additions to try.
Healthy eating is created by lifelong habits.
Starting early with your children can make a huge impact on their health. Remember to make it fun and get them involved! Be a positive influence and role model for you children but also your own health!
Needs some healthier family meals and recipes?