I've often been asked how i manage to get my sons (currently aged 8 & 10) to eat such a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. I've heard from fellow parents that getting kids to eat healthy foods such as leafy green vegetables can be a real challenge. Thankfully my boys have always been pretty open to trying new foods, some might say this is luck, i think it is due to three key things:
1. Lead by example. One of the main reasons that they are willing to try different foods it because they see me trying them too. If children see their parents eating healthy foods they are much more likely to try them themselves. This might be difficult for parents who don't enjoy vegetables but want their children to at least try them. If you begin by introducing new vegetables to children by first you having them on your plates and eating them in front of the children they are likely to ask what it is and why they don't have any. You could then offer some and let them taste it or you could suggest that you make some specially for them at their next meal. This technique worked well for me when my boys were younger and still works now when it comes to new things like spices and herbs.
2. Grow your own. Growing our own fruits, salads, vegetables and herbs has been one of the best ways to get my boys to try new things. By getting them involved in the seed sowing, planting and harvesting they are excited to try the foods when they are ready as they were involved in the growing process. We only have a very small garden but we have been able to grow a great selection of salads and vegetables at home. We have now also got a small allotment plot which has given us more space to try more things.
3. Don't put on pressure and don't give up. It can be really frustrating when you've spent time cooking to then have children refuse to eat what you've made. I try not to get too upset in front of them about this, especially when they were little. Instead i try to encourage them to just try one small piece them move on and say that we can try again another day. I keep reminding them that their tastes, likes and dislikes will change over time and talk to them about times when i didn't think i liked certain foods only to as i got older end up loving them. Less pressure and more encouragement and conversation i would say works well.
These are just my top 3 tips for getting children to eat more vegetables and healthy foods. There are many other ways you can encourage them such as getting them to shop for the foods with you, watching Youtube videos about farming the foods with them, getting them involved with the cooking process etc.
Most importantly, enjoy your time together and have fun!