I remember when I was growing up, I was watching something on TV, and there was this girl, her cheeks were rosy, munching on a raw carrot stick like it was the most scrumptious thing in the world. I asked my mom, “why are her cheeks so rosy?”, she replied “because she likes to eat carrots”. I was around 6 or 7 years old, and I thought to myself, ‘my cheeks are never going to be rosy because I will never eat carrots’.
Fast forward to today, I was a vegetarian for 7 years and proudly vegan for 2 years now.
I lived in a boarding house during my high school years. All the boarders would go to the common dining room to have breakfast which consisted of cereal, toasts, fruits and all things healthy. But there I was, making 2 packets of Indomie goreng accompanied with sour cream & onion flavoured potato crisps to fuel my energy. My matron was horrified, saying how unhealthy it is blah blah blah. I didn’t understand where she was coming from. I mean, in Indonesia I grew up eating Indomie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My mom used to pack it for lunch with an omelette, and I’ll come home from school having another 2-3 packs for a snack. Now I’m thinking, how the heck are my organs still functioning.
I did not grow up loving vegetables. I couldn’t stand them and my parents never forced us to try. The only one I liked was potatoes in the form of potato chips and french fries. So in uni, when my housemate, Tracy, was devouring a tomato (like seriously a whole big ass tomato) in front of me which I thought was so strange, but it made me want to eat it. The whole 18 years of my life, the amount of tomatoes I ate probably didn’t even equal to 1 piece.
I have a theory why people don’t like vegetables.
- They have tried a bad version of that vegetable
- They’re not used to it and/or don’t grow up eating it
So in order to avoid your children from hating vegetables for the rest of their lives, start them young. So here are my 3 steps into tricking your kids into eating vegetables:
- Be a role model
- Flavour, flavour, flavour. Make it tasty & fun.
- Hide your vegetables (soups, sauces or “popsicles”)
Here’s a trick that I used on Aurora. She used to hate bananas. One day I ate a banana in front or her and acted like it was the most delicious thing in the world. I did this for a couple of minutes, not offering her anything at this point. After a minute or so of her watching me eat a banana, I will casually ask “do you want some?”. First it was a couple of unsure bites, but by day 5-7, she was eating a whole banana to herself. One to two year olds are the easiest to “manipulate”. You can add things to say like “hmm I’m having this banana all to myself, and no one else is having it.” I know it sounds really manipulative, but damn it works. I had a mommy friend who’s toddler hated banana too, I told her my trick and a week later she told me her toddler was loving it which made me so happy.
Vegetables can be bland. Even though Aurora loves her raw celery and carrots, it’s almost always paired up with hummus, which is healthy and tasty. For example, if it’s broccoli, season it or stir fry with teriyaki sauce. Cut up the broccoli into small bite size pieces. Nothing scarier than eating something you might not like in a massive chunk. Big pieces of vegetables can be off putting for kids (even adults). I was watching this show called freaky eaters, the nutritionist was making the person try a raw mushroom. I mean, come on. The person was like gagging! I love mushrooms any day, but that was possibly the worst way to introduce it to someone for the first time. I suggest try cooked vegetables first before trying raw. Sauce it up, have mini dips, make it pretty and appealing.
If your toddler still refuses and you’ve exhausted all options, the last trick is to just literally hide your greens vegetables. When I make pasta, I jam as much vegetables as I can. Red or black beans, celery, carrots, zucchini, lentils, spinach and kale. Also hiding vegetables in smoothies/juices which you can turn into “popsicles”, is perfect during summer. Make your own concoction, even get them involved, they’re going to love it! It’s sweet and cooling, they won’t be able to tell the difference.
Eating should be a fun experience where kids are able to explore new textures and flavours. Get creative. Who knows, one day it’s a banana, next time they’ll be begging you for some alfalfa sprouts!
So good luck and let me know if these tricks work because I would love to get your feedbacks!