“Veg-ucate” Your Kids About Good Eating Habits This Spring
Ask any parent what foods kids want and what foods kids need, and they’ll tell you the two rarely meet. In most cases, hot dogs trump tomatoes and animal crackers buck broccoli, causing many parents to wonder what they can do. But with spring blooming, green thumbs coming out of hibernation and gardens glowing in a few weeks, now is the perfect time to “veg-ucate” kids to like, and even want, veggies.
Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals such as fiber, potassium and Vitamins A and C. These nutrients are important for healthy skin, teeth and protection against infections. They will also set a good stage for future benefits such as a decreased risk of coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
But try telling that to your kids.
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“Veggies and kids usually don’t mix. But the eating habits kids have now will play out over the rest of their lives. That’s why good diet and nutrition is so important,” says Tessa Stamper, chef and registered dietician at fast-casual restaurant Noodles & Company. “There’s no shortage of tips and tricks for sneaking vegetables into your son’s or daughter’s foods. The key, however, is to get them to like eating veggies so you’re not mixing and pureeing for the next 10 years.”
Keep in mind what the USDA recommends. For kids who get about 30 minutes of exercise each day, the USDA suggests 2- to 3-year-olds eat 1 cup of vegetables every day and 4- to 8-year-olds get 1 ½ cups per day. Girls 9- to 13-years-old should have 2 cups and boys 9 to 13-years-old should have 2½ cups.
So what’s a struggling parent to do?
Chef Tessa Stamper offers these tips and tricks for integrating a spring semester in Veg-ucation into your household.
When it comes to healthy eating in your home, remember the long-term benefits of veg-ucating your kids about the importance of eating their vegetables.