It’s safe to say that the majority of adults understand that eating vegetables is good for our health. But when it comes to little ones, who wildly prefer candy to broccoli, making that connection can be trickier. So how do you get your child to eat vegetables and more plant-based foods?
What does plant based really mean?
In many cases, the term “plant-based” is used as a marketing tool to trick us into thinking that particular food products are healthy. If it says “plant-based” on the label, then it must be healthy right? Think again. Foods that are “plant-based” can still contain inflammatory oils, sugars, sodium, additives, artificial flavours and so on. True “plant based” simply means that most of the food on your plate contains plants. In other words, it means you’re eating whole, nutritious, local, anti-oxidant rich foods to fuel your body. This contributes to your vitality. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to follow a true plant-based diet. In fact, there’s actually a NON plant-based way to be vegan. Think about it, you can eat only white carbs, like pasta, and still be vegan, but that doesn’t mean your diet is fulfilling all of your nutritional needs. Right?
There’s no doubt that having lots of fresh veggies, fruits and whole foods in our diet is good for us, but sometimes it can be tricky to get our kids to buy into it! It’s really important to teach our kids about the importance of plant-based foods when it comes to our health. And at the end of the day, we’re the ones who are putting food on the table for them. However, it can be easier said than done. Here are a few easy ways to boost plant-based eating in your family — aka tips for how to get your child to eat more vegetables!
1. Sneak veggies into smoothies and popsicles
The ultimate answer to the question, “How do you get your child to eat more vegetables?” is a sneaky one. You sneak them in, literally! Smoothies are great place to add in extra veggies and plant-based foods. Try adding 1/2 cup spinach or some frozen zucchini next time you’re whipping one up for breakfast. They won’t even taste it! Another smoothie-hack is to cut down on sugar content. One easy way to do this is to use 1/2 the amount of fruit you would normally use (i.e. 1/2 banana instead of a full one). If your kids aren’t into smoothies, you can also sneak them into homemade “popsicles” and even baked goods!
2. Get them involved
Studies suggest that when kids are involved in the grocery shopping and meal preparation process, they are more likely to feel inspired and excited about the foods they eat. Having them tag along to the grocery store or farmers market, for example, can be a powerful way to connect them to the source of their food. When they feel more connected, they’re more likely to think positively about what’s on their plate. Plus, they can have a better understanding of what makes LOCAL foods important for our health. For a fun summer activity, you can take them berry picking and maybe even head back to the kitchen to make your own homemade jam!
3. Lead by example
Let’s be honest, kids are smart and they will pick up on your own eating habits, which is why it’s important to lead by example and make healthy food choices ourselves. Monkey see, monkey do, right? So if you’re trying to figure out how to get your child to eat more vegetables, take a look at your own eating habits. As parents/adult figures, we have an essential influence on our kids, grand-kids, nieces/nephews etc. when it comes to how they view fruits and vegetables and everything else on their plate. If they see us trying and enjoying local, seasonal plant-based foods and making an effort to prioritize our health, they’ll be more likely to follow our lead.
4. Make plant-based foods available
Let’s face it, if all you’re serving for dinner is processed meats and take-out, that’s what your kids will be eating. If it’s not there in the fridge or on the menu, they can’t eat it! Try swapping out these foods with healthier alternatives. Some nutrient-dense, kid-friendly plant-based snacks include healthy fats like avocado or nuts, veggies with hummus, or smoothies. If they don’t like what you’re serving them, perhaps you can try preparing it in a different way! For example, if they don’t like steamed veggies, you can try stir-frying them in avocado oil. If they don’t like spinach salad, try sneaking it into a smoothie. If they don’t like avocado, try homemade guacamole. Our rule here is to have your kids try a food 7 different ways before you rule it out!
5. Teach them about the benefits
Although it’s fun sneaking veggies into kid-friendly foods, ultimately it’s important to introduce health/wellness concepts to them and explain why eating plant-based foods will benefit them. Remember, building these healthy habits in childhood is a great way to set our kids up for success in adulthood. If they understand the benefits, they’re more likely to care as they get older. To drive the point further, you can even try making a small garden at home if it would help them learn/understand why local, plant-based foods are better than processed foods. Plus, they will be sure to taste the difference between something picked from your own garden vs. something bought at the store!
If you want to learn more about how to make dietary changes to UPGRADE your health, check out our 21 Day Clean Gut Detox program that covers topics like inflammatory trigger foods, nutrients to boost health, bloating, diet, sleep and more!
Already know you’re ready to take your health to new heights? We are currently accepting NEW PATIENTS for TMB’s functional medicine program. To book a free 15 minute consultation, contact us today!
About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine
Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.