For Parents continued...
Your child will be more excited by this activity if you get involved. Select vegetables that will help make an interesting face. Cut them in different shapes and sizes. Use vegetables in a variety of colors. Try serving some vegetables raw and some cooked.
Some ideas for vegetables:
- Grape tomatoes
- Baby carrots
- Celery sticks or smaller smile-shaped pieces
- Peas (fresh or thawed from frozen) or edamame (blanched or steamed)
- Cucumber or zucchini slices
- Red, orange, or yellow bell pepper slices
- Broccoli and cauliflower florets
- Shredded broccoli or carrots
- Lettuce, small leaves or shredded
Older kids may want to make other pictures with the veggies. That's great! Let them be creative with food. The point isn't how the art project turns out. It's about kids associating vegetables with fun.
To encourage kids to eat the veggies, you may decide to give them a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of low-fat ranch dressing or hummus for dipping. Or you may choose to let your child eat the vegetables on a sandwich or on whole-grain crackers.
What to Teach Your Child: Learning to Like Veggies Takes Practice
Help your child understand that her tastes will change as she gets older. Encourage her to take just a few bites to taste-test a food. You might find her more willing to keep trying if you allow her to stop eating after three bites if she doesn't like it this time.
Keep in mind that the serving size of a vegetable for kids is small. A serving size of vegetables for kids is about the size of your child's fist. For kids ages 4 to 7, that's 3 to 4 tablespoons. (For kids ages 2 to 3, a serving is only 2 to 3 tablespoons.)
Remind your child that it may take him several tries to decide he likes a vegetable. Also remind him when he likes a vegetable in another way -- like tomatoes in pizza sauce, carrots in soup, or broccoli with a dip.
Also, remember that you are your child's most important role model. If you don't like vegetables, start trying them right along with your child! You all will benefit.
What's the FIT Connection?
Teaching your child healthy ways to eat is part of raising FIT kids.
Eating vegetables is part of a healthy diet. Kids who eat vegetables can snack on them instead of on high-calorie treats with less nutrition. The fiber and water content in vegetables also helps the whole family fill up with these traditional "sides" -- with very few calories and little fat.
Making healthy eating choices supports kids in all aspects of their fit life. Healthy eating gives you and your kids energy to move, helps you all sleep well, and can keep the whole family from overeating or loading up on foods that leave you tired or moody. All of these things work together to help your family members reach and stay at healthy weights.