Monday, May 02, 2011

A mom's wisdom on...vegetables!

Buy this new juice! Each glass has two hidden servings of vegetables!

Give your kids this brand of tomato sauce! Two servings of veggies are hidden - they'll never know!

Put sugar on your kids' vegetables! They'll never know they're eating veggies.

Well, I'm going to admit: I'm one of those parents who would consider buying a "hidden veggie" product. My husband and I eat veggies, but not often enough. It's no wonder that Little Olive refuses hers. At a recent chiropractor's visit, the doctor (who is awesome, by the way) asked about L.O.'s diet, and whether or not veggies were a big part. I told her the truth: No, they weren't. Instead of clicking her tongue at my horrible parenting (she must have sensed I was an exceptional one), she gave me some very good advice for this topic.

1) Every day when you're making dinner, and the kids are getting crabby because they're hungry, set out some veggies on the counter. Peas, green beans, broccoli, cut up carrots, peppers, etc. As the kids come in and out of kitchen (or help with preparing the meal), they can snack on the veggies. Come dinner, if they don't finish every thing on their plate, don't worry. They've already eaten the best part that you'd otherwise be pushing them to eat at the table.

2) During the day, set out veggies at their level for the kids to eat whenever they want. Instead of snacks like chips, cookies, candy, or other processed foods, they'll be able to eat healthy.

It sounds perfect and magical, and you imagine your stubborn little one happily crunching on a whole head of kale. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen overnight. I'm still working on this with L.O. Repeated exposure is going to work eventually. She enjoys potatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, and sometimes peas. I hope to add more to the list. 

I know the other problem is that we eat lots of sugar in our home. Little Olive knows that eventually, if she refuses the healthy food long enough, she'll get one of her "approved' foods. Oh I know...go ahead and deduct 10 points from my score. The reason I'm openly admitting this is because I actually just realized it a couple days ago. When you're in the picture, all you want is your child to be happy and full. But alas, I've totally turned into one of those moms who will pick out all the purple Fruit Loops for my kid because he refuses to eat any of the other colors! Or any other food for that matter. (I don't do this; I heard a story about a mom who did.)

But NO. Believe it or not, kids will learn. If parents are strong and consistent enough, kids will eventually learn that Mommy and Daddy aren't going to give in. Eventually they will realize that they can't dictate what foods are best for them. So this week, I'm starting to cut back on the amount of sugar in Little Olive's diet and expose her repeatedly to veggies. Wish me luck! I'll give you an update in a couple weeks. 


i.ikeda said...

Good luck mama, you can do it!

We've been lucky in that N. likes some veggies without a hole lot of pushing. Masa and I both eat vegetables, so maybe that helps? I'm really not sure, but she likes carrots, peas, mushrooms, soy beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, olives (black and green), spinach (if it's on soup), corn, and some other ones. But there are some that refuses every time - green peppers for example.

I'm not the best at laying out veggies for her to eat before the meal, and I really should start that habit... We do our best to have healthy snacks - it helps that Masa is a stickler for little sugar, and I used to be a vegan?

Either way, even so it's hard to always give them the healthiest snacks. Give yourself some slack and don't take any points off yet. You're trying and I'm sure little Olive will soon be eating some yummy veggies. :)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Maggie, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!

Mountain Mama said...

Kids plus veggies can equal major frusteration. My son used to absolutely love peas, but that's sort of faded lately for some reason. He still likes green beans and he likes sugar snap peas but it's been more and more of a struggle to get him to eat them lately, as well. I think it's because he's getting older and realizing that there are many other foods in the world - some very tasty but not so healthy. Also, he used to love to snack on grapes or sliced apples first thing in the morning and right after his nap. Now he refuses both of these and asks me for marshmallows instead! Ugh! All because we let him roast marshmallows one night and he fell in love with them. Now he wants them in his cheerios for breakfast too! (Lucky charms anyone???) It's a bit frusterating. Luckily, he's going through a strawberry loving phase right now, so I can get a little bit of fruit in his system and he'll still eat the apple slices from Mcdonald's so I take every opportunity to get him those when we're out. (I don't give him the caramel packet that comes with them. I know I'm terribly mean for that but once he tastes the caramel there's no going back!) He won't eat my apple slices at home anymore unless I peel them. He used to eat the skin w/o any complaints and I know that's a bit rare for a child, but the skin has many of the nutrients so I was always really happy he'd eat it. Things are definetely changing, though.
My son does still love yogurt with bananas or strawberries in it, so that's my go-to snack right now. We go through 2 large containers of the Stonyfield Vanilla per week but it's worth it if he'll actually eat it.

I've tried introducing raw carrots, broccoli, and celery to his diet but, as of right now, he'll only eat them cooked and in very small amounts. He says they're too hard to chew when they're raw. It doesn't matter how small I slice them. Spaghetti sauce is a wonderful way to get veggies in your child's belly, but my son suddenly prefers his pasta plain - of course!

Good luck with getting your daughter to eat more veggies. I think the advice your doc gave sounds very helpful. I hope it works! Also, thanks for mentioning avacodos because it reminded me that I have 2 in my fridge that I need to eat before they go bad!

Oh, btw...whatever you did worked because you're on my reading list now! YAY! :)

Sorry for the book length comment.

Created2bholy said...

She'll catch on and start loving them! It has helped us to not even have "junk" in the house so I can't be tempted. "But Mommy I just want a fruit snack because I've been so good" I throw a few frozen grapes her way and she's perfectly happy! The only sugary snack in the house is popcicles, store bought and homemade, adding water to the juice to cut back on the sugar. Other than that, they consider their fruit and popcorn their snacks. I've been told by moms (and kids that are over) that I'm boring- oh well!

Brianna said...

Great tips!

I'm a vegetarian and I'm raising my daughter as a vegetarian (she's three). I think she eats vegetables better than other toddlers because that's all she's known and because that's what she sees me eat. Her favorite are carrots. We dip them in hummus, which is made from chick peas, almost a staple of the vegetarian diet. It's delicious and much better for you than ranch dip. Maybe if you set out the veggies and some hummus before dinner, the kids will eat even more.

Now this is not to say that my daughter has a perfect diet! Far from it! She needs to eat beans, but hates them. She eats Morningstar Farm meatless foods, but not tofu! We've got a long way to go!

Natalie said...

My kids LOVE vegetables... when we cook frozen veggies, a regular family-sized bag is not enough. And they love fresh veggies, too! Tezzie is starting to get more picky, but she still loves fresh spinach dipped in dressing. ;) (Even for breakfast!!) I'm sure it helped that we didn't usually have sweet snacks for them when they were very little (though we've had to keep the Easter baskets out of little Ryan's reach, because he DEVOURS candy if he knows where it is!)
Our downside... we usually only cook/have veggies (or any kind of side dish) twice a week. We're pretty light eaters and usually pretty tight at the grocery store, unless we're having company. We do add a lot more fresh fruits and veggies during the summer when we can get them cheaply, and I freeze whatever I can fit in my freezer (it's completely empty right now, besides the last jars of freezer jam from last year). Hopefully I'll be able to stock up again this summer.

Cindy said...

My 2.5 year old is getting pickier too.. but loves tomatoes, red peppers, sugar snap peas and edamame.. and other stuff that changes daily. I always OFFER veggies, but never make her have more than a few bites. She does see me eat a lot of veggies too which probably helps.

The veggies as a pre dinner snack is a great idea!