Ways to get little one to love eating vegetables!
The best way to improve your child's health is to provide her by providing her with a balanced diet. According to SportsSG, the Food First Approach ensures your child has an intake of a variety of foods for good overall growth and development. To ensure your child is taking in the proper nutrients, tailor your child’s diet to suit their needs by understanding the basis of the food first approach: a well-balanced diet!
Foundation of the Food First Approach
- Consists of grains, lean protein, dairy, fruits & vegetables
- Provides variety of nutrients to support optimal growth & development
Importance of A Well-Balanced Diet
By having a well-balanced diet in place, it supports proper bodily growth and development and in turn enhance exercise recovery and sport performance. A well-balanced diet consist of a variety of nutrients such as
- Carbohydrates (Wholegrain rice/noodles/bread)
- Protein (White Meats)
- Vitamins and minerals (Found in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens!)
- Fats (Good fats found in nuts and fish)
In summary, Food First Approach starts with a well-balanced diet, it helps with optimal overall growth and development of your child! However, getting those good stuff in your child might be a challenge if you've got a child who HATES a core component of a well-balanced diet: veggies!
Is meal time starting to get on your nerves, because of how picky your child is when it comes to getting his fair share of vegetables? What is it about darned vegetables that kids seem to be revolted by them? Ever tried blending it up and hiding it in his food? That’s an easy strategy, but one that won’t change his mind set about vegetables, so it isn’t effective in the long-run.
Vegetables are an important part of the meal as they give your child energy, vitamins, anti-oxidants, fibre and water. They help protect your child against diseases later in life which include heart disease, stroke and some cancers. A healthy diet means eating lots of vegetables and a wide variety of foods from the other main food groups.
Here are some recommended dietary guidelines for kids:
- Infants (6 to 12 months) – ½ serving of vegetables daily
- Toddlers (1-2 years) – ½ serving of vegetables daily
- Pre-schoolers (3-6 years) – 1 serving of vegetables daily
If your child finds it hard to down enough vegetables, it’s important to keep working on it. If you help your child develop healthy eating habits now, it sets up healthy habits for life.
#1. Serve the vegetables first
Everything tastes good when we are hungry. So always serve the vegetables first! You might be surprised to see what happens at the dining table.
#2. Introduce some fun
What if you are not just eating dinner? What if you are a group of gatherers competing to find the biggest harvest of the season? Or even better, maybe you are a wizard trying to brew some potion with these green magical plants! Turns a simple dinner into a fantasy world to introduce a fun way of eating! Use natural food colouring and decorate with colourful vegetables or fruits to jazz up your food table. Get your child involved when making up a tasty rainbow plate!
#3. Get them involved
Children often find things more interesting if they are involved in the process. Take your children with you to the pasar or supermarkets, get them to help pick out the vegetables according to the grocery list and even enlist their help in the kitchen! It will be a great time to introduce some learning too.
#4. Enforce the 'one bite rule'
Research consistently shows that children who have initially rejected a food must be exposed to it at least 8-10 times for the food to be accepted. Start small by introducing the 'one bite rule' where the child must try at least one mouthful of a rejected food whenever it is served. Frequent exposures to the food introduce familiarity to the child.
#5. Don’t force them to finish
Okay, if all things fail, just remember that it is just a meal session. One of the biggest misconceptions among parents is that forcing their child to eat a food he doesn’t like will get him to change his behaviour. However, forced eating often create a negative meal experience, and the child will learn to associate food with the bad feelings.
Instead, thank him for trying, even if it was just a tiny little bite. It is always best to focus more on giving your child attention for behaving in ways that you like. Praising children for exhibiting positive behaviours increases the likelihood of the behaviour happening in the same circumstances in the future.
What’s most important is that you child is encouraged for his efforts. You probably can’t understand why your child is behaving in a certain way. Nevertheless, be understanding and engage your child in a manner that he can relate to, maybe even using things he likes, etc.
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