The Secret to Getting your Preschooler to eat More Veggies

I am sure that you, like most parents, want your three to five year old child to eat a well balanced diet. If you’ve been around three to five year olds, however, you likely know that getting them to eat some foods, vegetables in particular, can be quite a challenge.

A recent study ( American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online July 20, 2011), looked at one way to get kids to eat their veggies. Its a bit on the sneaky side, but it seems to work. What they did was take a group of normal preschoolers and first looked at their normal amount of vegetable consumption. Then, and here comes the somewhat sneaky part - they added pureed cauliflower, broccoli, squash, zucchini and tomatoes to triple or quadruple every dish's dose of vegetables. They were also allowed to eat non-doctored side dishes and snacks during the day, including fruit, cheese, and crackers.

On those days, the kids ate roughly twice the amount of vegetables than on a normal day. Interestingly, though, even though the main dish had so much extra vegetables added they still ate the same amount of vegetable and fruit side dishes. The kids seemed to like the dishes with the added veggies just as much as the ones without. Also, they ate about 140 calories a day less than on a regular day. With so many overweight children these days, this may be a way to help kids eat healthier.
If you want to give this a try, just puree some vegetables and mix them in to your normal meal. Match colors (broccoli stands out against a white chicken noodle casserole for example). Start out with a little bit and then gradually increase the amount you put in.

Kids still need to like eating vegetables on their own, however. So still give and encourage them to eat vegetable side dishes. Eat the veggies along with them to set a good example. Hopefully, you will have a child with a healthy diet before you know it.

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