|Don't forget the vegetables!|
As parents, we teach our kids many things. One very important thing that we teach them is what they should eat to gain the energy and vitality to become contributing members of society. Kids push back against our recommendations. That is the nature of being a kid. Does that mean that we stop making recommendations?
When it comes to packing vegetables in our kid's lunches, why do we hesitate? Is it so bad if our kids throw away a snack bag of vegetables? The lesson that you teach by offering vegetables at lunch is that they should eat them. I think this lesson is more important than a little bit of food waste (believe me, kids throw away more than their vegetables). This is part of the learning process. What is the worst thing that could happen by not offering your children vegetables at lunch? They could grow up not eating vegetables regularly, choosing instead a diet filled with processed foods which can cause them to suffer from one or more of the many chronic diseases associated with diet.
Here's how you can encourage your kids to eat more vegetables by packing them in their lunches:
1. Discuss with your children the types of vegetables that they enjoy eating. Choose those vegetables to pack in their lunches.
2. Offer variety. Even a favorite vegetable can get old if eaten every day. Try cauliflower, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, baby-cut carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, radishes or sugar snap peas. All of these vegetables are good raw. Many kids seem to prefer raw vegetables over cooked vegetables.
3. Offer a little bit of dip to make eating vegetables more enjoyable. Use a mini container and fill it with a small amount of ranch dressing, hummus, tzatziki, or other dip.
4. Start young. By the time your kids are ready to go to school, they are old enough to be eating vegetables daily at lunch.
5. Start small. Begin by offering a small snack bag of vegetables. Hopefully by the time your kids reach high school, they'll be eating a larger sandwich bag filled with vegetables.
6. Talk with your kids at home about what they ate for lunch. Ask them if they ate their vegetables. If they say no, gently encourage them to eat their vegetables (there are lots of good reasons for your kids to eat vegetables, an important reason is that you love them and want them to thrive).
7. Never give up. By offering vegetables to your children at lunch you are setting an example about what they are supposed to eat.
I have my own challenges in getting my children to eat their vegetables. My 13 year old daughter has been sick too much already this school year and I point out to her that she skimps on much of the healthy foods that I serve her. I'll keep trying because it is that important.