As a parent, you want to do the best for your child. So, you go out of the way to prepare foods that are full of nutrients, including lots of vegetables. Only when you serve it will your child explain that they are not eating and in extreme cases they may be disturbed at the sight of certain foods.
The situation can quickly turn into a losing battle, with many parents giving in and instead offering snacks or other food to calm them down. It’s understandable that having this scene repeated at every meal can get frustrating, let alone the parents.
One solution is to get creative with how you serve your food. By making dishes both entertaining and appetizing, this can create the much-needed truce between your child and the food you serve them. Here’s how to hide vegetables in food when you have picky kids, as well as an overview of why picky eating starts.
Understanding picky eating habits in children
As an adult, it’s easy to forget that eating can be a strange experience to children. Everything from the color, texture and of course the taste is alien to them. Taste buds are a defense mechanism in the body that rightly or wrongly tells us whether to eat something based on whether or not they realize it could pose a threat to our health.
Also, have kids around 30,000 taste budsThat is a third more than in adults. This means that they are generally more sensitive to taste.
Most of us can remember foods that we didn’t like to eat as children. Usually, we remember not only the feeling of not liking the test, but also the negative reaction from our parents trying to override our rightful answer. From the parents’ point of view, it can be understood that eating carrots is important, but to the child it just seems like they are being made to eat something they don’t like. There is a negative association with food, which some children continue to live with them into adulthood. This is just one of the reasons it is important to be careful with picky foods.
Hide vegetables in food
If the sight of vegetables in their whole form on a plate is a problem for your kids, it’s time to literally make things a little more bite-sized. It’s a good idea to build a repertoire of foods that you know your kids will love to eat, or slightly tweak the dishes they already like. One example is making your own burgers instead of going to McDonald’s, as the kids can get involved too. Adding vegetables to burgers is very easy, and it can be made entirely from vegetables like sweetcorn, mushrooms, butter beans and spinach too.
When it comes to dishes like spaghetti bolognese, stews, roasts, etc. – how you physically shape the vegetables can help disguise them. Chopping up vegetables so they’re not immediately noticeable is useful, especially when there’s a lot of color going on.
Alternatively, you can have fun using tools for the job. Spiralizers can turn cucumbers and carrots into pretty swirls instead of intimidating blocks on the plate. It is also possible to get a device (which can even be used by the children!) To create a heart or star-shaped vegetable. All of a sudden, eating vegetables goes from a chore to something curious and fun.
Choose a good disguise
Placing vegetables on a plate does not leave room for negotiation, especially with children who refuse to eat them. When it comes to hiding vegetables in food, thinking about the basis of the meal you are cooking is a good tactic. Let’s take something with a sauce as an example. A tomato sauce that you use to make spaghetti Bolognese can be mixed with finely diced carrots or spinach. Neither of these changes the taste significantly, but adds a number of vitamins that are not easy for your child to learn.
Or you could try the opposite tactic by using lots of vegetables at once, which makes it difficult to capture everything that is in them. Vegetable meatballs are a good place to start as you can add 6-7 different types of vegetables, meaning no one ingredient stands out more than the others. Fried vegetable rice or a sheet cake could work here as well. Aside from changing the graphics, including different flavors in your dishes can also be a good camouflage.
Finger food for picky toddlers
The transition to solid foods is a delicate process for both young children and parents. On the one hand, it is about choosing foods that will pique your child’s curiosity, but doing so needs to be done in a way that is presented safely to avoid any choking hazard. Finger food is ideal as it is both small and an introduction to new tastes without overwhelming the senses. Using a colorful tray Serving finger food is perfect for picky toddlers as you can add some fruit and cheese too.
Ideal finger foods for picky toddlers can cover a wide range of foods. Vegetable ideas, however, include carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, boiled sweet potato cubes, pepper slices, baby broccoli or small snap peas. A good strategy is to include a variety of colors, textures, and flavors. As they get older, you can experiment by creating faces or shapes with the food as well, which is very easy with smaller blocks of food.
Promote healthy eating in picky children
Food and psychology are closely related. We often consider unhealthy foods a “treat” when the food is actually anything but high in fat and sugar. Positive reinforcement of vegetables can go a long way in ensuring that your children don’t turn down certain foods because they want treats instead. In general, explaining the benefits of vegetables to your children can be helpful. A visual way to do this is to install a chart, e.g. Vegetables and the corresponding body part they nourish the most.
This method is particularly suitable for children who are a little older and who question everything. It can be difficult as a parent to give all the answers, especially knowing that they are just looking for an excuse not to eat the food. By explaining how vegetables help the body grow and nourish, the way we perceive food changes. Also, just having a conversation can remove some of the barriers to why they dislike certain foods. You can then use this information to tweak future recipes, especially if you want to hide vegetables in your food.
Hide vegetables in smoothies or juices
Thinking of food as a solid on a plate is easy, but this is not the only way to include nutrients in your child’s diet. Smoothies or juices are great ways to get vegetables to eat. There are several advantages to this method. First, drinks tend to be very colorful, so they already seem more attractive, especially if you add a fun straw to it too. Since everything is mixed into a liquid, certain vegetables cannot be identified. And if you add some fruit, the whole thing can taste sweet and not at all like you are drinking multiple vegetables!
Ideal vegetables for smoothies or juices are carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, celery, cucumber, beetroot, kale, avocado and broccoli. The recipes vary depending on the vegetables selected. Spinach, however, goes great with apples and celery. Or carrots and orange make for a refreshing combination. A top tip is to juice fruits and vegetables that are high in water and prepare smoothies with drier ones. You can also add sugarless juice or almond milk based on your ingredients to increase the water content of smoothies. This makes drinking easier.
The concept of hiding vegetables in food when you have picky kids is complex. There are some who disagree with it at all, even though it is for their own good. After all, as your child grows, they will need plenty of vitamins to develop mentally and physically in a healthy way, which is not possible without a varied and balanced diet.
The best tip we can give is to reinvent the food so it is fun and fascinating. This is much better than kids who feel compelled to eat something they hate, which can lead to food avoidance issues later.
Also, remember to avoid feeling guilty about feeding your kids junk food on their special day. Dogmatic rules without a little leeway always have the potential to spark rebellion in toddlers. So keep that in mind.
We hope you found the advice above helpful. So leave a comment below with your tips. Or share this article with parents who are in a similar situation. If your child continues to refuse to eat vegetables and you are concerned, this is a good place to go is your family doctor or a therapist who specializes in childhood food aversion.
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