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Eating vegetables can be fun

2021-09-10 00:00:00

Written by Marloes Dingemans

Many parents are faced with the challenge of getting their child to eat enough but also relaxed vegetables. You don't want a battle at the table, but you do want your child to eat healthily. By bringing together education and nutrition, pedagogue and (child) nutritionist Iris Vernooij, of STERK&ZOET, supports parents and children in both! In this blog she shares some practical tips to make eating more fun and more nutritious.

"I don't like that!"
In general, the image of vegetables could use an upgrade. It is often rather negative and this is often created by ourselves, often without us realizing it. For example, when you say, "When you eat your Brussels sprouts, you get dessert. This indicates that the dessert is much tastier and that when you eat your Brussels sprouts, you get a reward. Then the Brussels sprouts must be really bad.

Or: 'Three more bites, then you get meat'. Here you indicate that one thing is so much better than the other. In this case, the meat. This often works in the short term but in the long term it is counterproductive.  

In the ideal world, vegetables would be given a neutral image, just like the other foods. But to get it to neutral it must first be embellished. Eating vegetables must become a party. This can be done with pancakes, poffertjes and ice cream, among other things, how cool!

Pancakes with spinach are called monster or dragon pancakes but also ice creams can easily be made with vegetables. How about ice creams with blueberry and zucchini? Apple and carrot? Or spinach and avocado? In the book IJSJES, by Iris, there are more than 45 recipes for healthy ice cream with fruits and vegetables. With these healthy ice creams you give the image of vegetables a big boost.

"Just eat it, it's healthy."
To give the negative image an upgrade, it helps to teach your child exactly why vegetables are healthy. Why does the body need the vegetable and what function does it serve for your child? So don't just say "Eating vegetables is healthy" or "If you eat your vegetables, you'll grow up and be strong. That actually says little for your child.

Instead, it helps to say, 'Eggplant makes your memory strong, that's why you can remember those sums so well', or 'You fell on your knee today, carrots help the wound to close and heal'. In this way, the motivation for your child to eat vegetables becomes much more tangible and clear. It is easier to speak of intrinsic motivation; your child wants to eat the vegetables because it is better for him or herself. When you only talk about vegetables being healthy, it often feels like a motivation that the parent wants from him or her.

Tip: Download the handy poster 'Colorful vegetables' for free here and hang it up in the kitchen.

"Then at least eat the vegetables."
The evening meal is often the meal that children have the most trouble with, or that parents worry about the most. There is sometimes quite a bit of pressure on dinner. At the same time, your child is tired from the day. In addition, hunger is the biggest motivation for your child to eat. If your child is not very hungry, he or she will not be so quick to eat the vegetables on the plate.

To take the pressure off dinner, it is advisable to spread out the times when vegetables are eaten throughout the day. Then your child is less tired, your child will realize more quickly that eating vegetables is neutral and less vegetables need to be eaten at once. In addition, the pressure will be off and eating vegetables will become more light-hearted and relaxed. Then eating vegetables becomes a real treat!

More about healthy parenting
Sometimes reading a few tips is not enough. Sometimes it is nice to have someone think along with you and look at your situation or challenge. After all, every situation and every child is different. From personal support or a course Iris likes to think along with you.

For example, a new group of parents will soon start the course 'Raising your toddler healthily'. In this online course you will go through all the important information about raising your young child to eat. Are you curious about this course or do you want to read more about healthy parenting? Go to www.sterkenzoet.nl