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Vegetables give your child energy, vitamins, anti-oxidants, fiber and water. They help protect your child against chronic diseases later in life, including heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Our tips below can help you get more vegetables into your family’s diet.

1. Set a good example with vegetables Your child learns about food choices from you, so the best way to encourage your child to eat vegetables is to let your child see you eating and enjoying them yourself. Family meals are a good time to teach your child about healthy eating, including eating vegetables. Family foods like stir-fries, pizzas, roasts and pastas all taste great with more veggies. A bowl of salad on the side is a quick and tasty option too. If your child sees you and their siblings filling plates with veggies to enjoy, your child will probably want to do the same.

2. Keep trying with vegetables It’s normal for children to say they don’t like some vegetables when they first taste them. If your child doesn’t like a particular vegetable, try offering small amounts of the vegetable with another healthy food that your child likes. Also keep encouraging your child to try and taste vegetables. Your child will probably change their mind about vegetables eventually. Some children need to try a new food up to 10 times before they accept it, and another 10 times before they decide they like it. Keep trying!

3. Get vegetables into meals in other ways In the short term, you can disguise vegetables in foods you know your child likes to eat. For example, you could include puréed or grated vegetables in pasta sauce or soups. This won’t change your child’s behavior and thinking about vegetables though, so it’s also important to regularly give your child vegetables in their original form. When you do this, your child has the chance to get familiar with and learn to like different tastes and textures.

4. Go for vegetable variety, taste and fun Try to choose veggies of different shapes, colors, textures and tastes – the more variety there is, the more likely it is your child will find something that they’re interested in eating. If you serve new vegetables with food your child already enjoys, the entire focus of the meal isn’t on new vegetables. Remember that taste matters. For example, you could try roasting veggies with fresh herbs and lemon juice or use finely sliced broccoli in a stir-fry or on a pizza. This will probably appeal more to your child than large steamed pieces of vegetables. You can have fun with vegetables too, especially with younger children. You might sometimes like to make a vegetable face for a snack plate – grated carrot for hair, cherry tomatoes for eyes, a bean for a nose and capsicum strips for a mouth. Get them involved in helping make food fun!

Wrap-n-roll: fill a wrap, lavash or pita pockets with grated cheese, carrot, cucumber and golden raisins. Spread the bread with hummus or avocado to help it stick together.

Sneaky Soups: Homemade pumpkin or tomato soup is popular with kids and full of goodness. Serve in a favorite fun mug with toast ‘soldiers’ for dunking.

Last night’s pizza: slices of leftover homemade pizza made with healthy ingredients are a nice lunch treat. If it's a take out pizza, throw on some extra veggies and bake until warm.

What are some other fun ways to include veggies into your children's favorite meals? Snap a pic and tag us on instagram! @sophrosynehealth_coaching

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