5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Eating Vegetables

kids and veggies

I often hear dismayed parents talk about how their children simply won’t eat their veggies. It’s not uncommon to hear “my child will only eat ______.” Usually the blank is filled with a processed food like chicken nuggets or McDonald’s french fries.

It’s true, children can be picky eaters and they do often “turn their noses up” at anything that looks unfamiliar or “weird” to them. In addition, because the Standard American Diet (SAD) is chock full of processed foods that are engineered to be highly-palatable, whole foods like vegetables tend to taste relatively bland and unappealing to the American palate.

That doesn’t mean you stop trying to get them to eat their vegetables, however. It just means that you have to find creative ways to familiarize them with a variety of foods so that they are more open to trying them. Once they are used to eating vegetables instead of processed foods, their palates will normalize and they will begin to actually enjoy eating vegetables.

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Kids and Kale Chips

A couple of weeks ago Food Network posted an article to their Facebook page called, “8 Kids’ Foods That Sound Healthy ButKalechips Aren’t.” As the title suggests, the list consisted of processed and prepackaged foods that aren’t healthful despite being marketed that way. Boy did it cause an uproar! Many of their posts get thousands of likes and some even get 100+ comments, but this post got nearly 6,000 likes and 503 comments. The comments ranged from “Of course these aren’t healthy” to “Oh, no! I just fed these to my kid.” However, there was a huge number of negative comments condemning Food Network for pushing the “healthy foods agenda,” judging parents, and being out of touch with what kids will really eat.

Many people chimed in to ask “What are you supposed to feed your kid?” as if there aren’t any alternatives to prepackaged foods. I get it though. Our culture is so conditioned to eat manufactured food produced by big food companies that it is almost unimaginable to go without them or even suggest that they might not be good for us. One comment stated, “Oooooo spare me. The only thing that makes kids unhealthy and obese is the electronics they spend all day glued to.” Sure, a sedentary lifestyle contributes to the development of chronic illnesses, but you cannot discount the impact of diet. In fact, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, a healthful and nutritious diet actually trumps exercise.

A large number of parents took the time to write that their children just won’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables. And kale chips? Kale chips were definitely out of the question! Many refused to “starve” their children so they give in and let their children have their favorite unhealthy snack foods.

Here’s the truth, not every kid is going to eat kale chips, but they might if given the chance. It may take more than one exposure before they develop a taste for a particular food. Even as an adult, I used to gag whenever I ate a sweet potato, now I love sweet potatoes and yams. When you begin to eat more real food, your palate adjusts and you begin to crave more real food.

The more you eat processed foods, the more you want processed foods. In fact, processed foods are created to be highly palatable. They are full of salt, sugar, and fat–which we love! They are actually quite addictive, which is one of the reasons why the whole “everything in moderation” argument doesn’t always work. It is no accident that the Pringles tag line is, “Once you pop, you can’t stop” and why Lays says, “betcha can’t eat just one.”

Here’s the simplest solution, if you don’t buy them in the first place, you remove the temptation to over-indulge and your kids know that they aren’t getting those foods no matter how much they protest because there aren’t any to get. This removes the struggle.

On a side note, I’ll also add that when you’re managing a potato allergy and celiac/gluten sensitivities, you quickly learn that potato chips, crackers, and even “veggie” chips aren’t going to be players in your diet. Kids will not go hungry if they can’t get their hands on the most popular snack foods.

My oldest daughter is in the “won’t touch a kale chip” camp but she loves fruit and she knows she is not going to get certain processed foods no matter how many times she asks. The result: she rarely asks for junk and eats mostly real whole foods. My other two daughters like kale chips. My youngest daughter actually loves them! She even sneaks them when I’m not looking.KalechipsRd

If you want your kids to eat better, feed them better and don’t give into their demands for junk. It really is that simple. It’s okay to have treats occasionally, but do make sure the majority of their diet comes from real whole foods that are produced from the earth, not a factory. And if you decide you do want to experiment with kale chips, they are about the easiest thing you can make.

Here’s all you need to make kale chips:

1 bunch of kale

2 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil

sea salt

garlic powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the kale. Pull the kale leaves from the stems and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder to taste. Mix with your hands to make sure the kale is evenly covered, then place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the kale is crispy. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you incorporate healthy snacks into your diet. Feel free to leave a comment below.