Getting the kids to eat their greens

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It’s not just a myth – kids really do hate to eat anything green!

A survey carried out by the health supplement makers, Healthspan to mark the launch of new sugar-free MultiVitality Children’s Gummy Bears found that while most of us seem to be attracted to brightly-coloured foods, there are some provisos.

Grown-ups seem to like eating their green foods but kids don’t agree – they have named it their most hated food colour! Many children said that they were disgusted by green food, with almost half of them admitting they have refused to eat something on their plate just because they didn’t like its colour.

So how can you get kids to enjoy their greens?

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Experts say that bribing them to eat their veggies, whatever the colour, is a bad idea, as is hiding the veg – a child has a sixth sense when it comes to unwanted broccoli.

If you make greens a regular part of a plate, but don’t make a big deal out of it, kids will start to get used to the idea and might even sneak a bit of kale when you’re not watching them. It’s easy to give up hope of getting them to eat their vegetables if they’ve refused them three, four or five times in a row, but perseverance is key as research has found that it can take a while for the dreaded greenery to be accepted – toddlers can need to be presented with a green vegetable up to 15 times before they deign it fit for consumption so just keep trying and don’t make too much fuss when they turn their little noses up.

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Sophia Komninou, a child nutrition expert at Swansea University told the Daily Mail that sneaking veggies in where they aren’t expected isn’t a great move; to get kids to learn to love their greens they need to be able to experience the foods with all of their senses. It might feel like a short-term win but if your fussy eater doesn’t know that their cake has carrots or courgettes in it, they won’t learn to eat them normally.

Older kids might start to appreciate their vegetables more if you let them help you prepare the meals. This can help to build a positive relationship with food, as well as giving them a pride in what they create, which in turn makes them more likely to want to eat it. Let them peel veggies with supervision, and do minor prep work like taking the leaves off of cauliflower and sprouts or grating carrots.

Another tip is to make sure that you eat up your own vegetables! It’s hardly surprising that children of parents who aren’t keen on vegetables grow up disliking them too. Children who eat with the rest of the family (and see parents and older siblings enjoying greens) will usually eat more vegetables. Set a good example by routinely serving up a variety of veg and eating it yourself.

Getting the kids eating their vegetables is often a case of trial and error but once they have got over their fear of greens, they’ll enjoy them for the rest of their lives so don’t give up at the first hurdle.

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