It’s a good question. Would you? From those I’ve asked, it’s a mixed response. I’m more in the camp of get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables early in life, and don’t stop.
Every kid goes through a push back phase where they don’t like something, or maybe they never did. I hear parents say, “Jack used to love *insert veggie*, but he won’t go near it now.” time and time again. But why isn’t he eating it anymore? Because parents get push back, and they cave because it seems easier. In that moment, perhaps, but in the long term, it’s not.
A recent study reported the results of kids from 40 elementary schools who were given incentives to eat more fruits and vegetables. The results were that they did just that. Ate more. They doubled their intake in fact! And they found that the kids continued to eat more even after the study was finished. It was a short-term study, but it did show a positive outcome, even after two months. There was a decline after the incentive period finished, but an improvement nonetheless.
Do you already bribe your kids to finish what’s on their plate? How many times have you said, “Eat your veggies and you can have dessert!” Isn’t that an incentive to eat what you want them to? And for what–something sugary for desert? What’s better, a sweet treat or money? In the case of the study, they gave a token worth 25 cents to use at the school store, school carnival, or book fair. I think it depends on the personality of the kid. Some would be all over a sweet treat and those without a sweet tooth wouldn’t care.
I’m a firm believer that we must teach kids why they need to eat the foods you want them to. Yes, they get served healthy foods every day (or at least I hope they do), but why such a fuss when they would prefer to eat something else? Knowing that broccoli and spinach are good for their growing bones and help them stay strong when they run, jump off the playground at the park or fall off their bike, has an impact. Avoiding broken bones or injury shows that there’s a reason why those foods are offered. It takes the emotion out of eating and gives your persistence a reason. From age 3 onwards, kids have an understanding of reasoning, so make the most of it.
I’ve always put at least two vegetables on my kid’s dinner plates. That’s just how it is and they have to finish it. Even the ones that they don’t like so much, because it’s dinner. I don’t make anything different for different tastes, but at the same time, if there’s something that they really dislike, I won’t serve it regularly. I’ll give less. My kids have gone through phases of disliking all vegetables. So I put them in soups and add them to salads in smaller quantities (like peppers for instance). They are still getting the nutrients, but without the fuss and resistance.
There are kids out there that genuinely can’t eat some foods. I’ve seen it and helped parents work around it in a consultation about their picky eater. There are certain supplements encourage better eating by giving the body the nutrients needed to increase hunger and appetite. Tissue salts, Juice Plus, and Growth-Gen have consistently increased appetite in the pickiest of eaters. I recommend what’s specifically needed once I see a food diary of what’s being eaten. Deficient kids typically don’t eat well. Balancing the vitamins and minerals that are going in has consistently improved appetite and variety eaten. Reach out if you want to know more!
Back to the original question, would you pay your kids to eat vegetables? Have you? Will you?