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Lifestyle: Three reasons your kids aren’t eating their vegetables—and what you can do about it

Bonus: A healthy recipe for ranch dip that your kids will love.
Ranch dressing doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise or sour cream for a healthy alternative that will make your kids smile.
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Why won’t my child eat vegetables? And what can I do about it?

Jessica Graumann, a registered dietitian at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, frequently hears this question from frustrated parents. She has identified three common roadblocks and offers some simple solutions.

Roadblock 1: You’re offering adult-sized bites—and portions
Kids have little mouths, teeth and stomachs. Even pre-cut baby carrots can be too large for a small child to bite comfortably. And expecting a child to eat a hefty portion of vegetables can be a recipe for a power struggle.

Graumann suggests that parents cut long, thin strips of vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers. For broccoli and cauliflower, break the florets into “trees” small enough for a child to chew easily. Shredding vegetables with grater or food processer can also be a great option—especially for toddlers, who enjoy picking up items with interesting textures.

“The best part of having pre-cut veggies on hand is that you can use them to quickly prepare stir fries and soups that the whole family will enjoy,” Graumann said.

Roadblock 2: You’re not offering vegetables at every meal
After many rounds of rejection, it can be tempting to give up. Don’t! Feeding children new foods, including vegetables, is an exercise in patience and perseverance.

“It might take many attempts before your child tries a new food,” Graumann said. “Keep the experience positive and avoid power struggles. You can’t force a child to eat, but you can offer a variety of healthy options at every meal.”

Roadblock 3: You’re not eating vegetables yourself
Kids learn what they see. If you’re eating a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to do the same. Graumann suggests preparing meals with a variety of options that the whole family can enjoy.

“It can be tempting to cook separate meals for adults and kids, but you’ll have more success if you focus on a family meal,” Graumann said. She added that meals don’t need to be complicated. “When it comes to kids, a simple meal with that includes bite-sized veggies and dip can be just as appealing—if not more so—than a complicated recipe,” she said.

Bonus: A healthier recipe for ranch dip
Dips and sauces are a great way to make vegetables fun for kids. But they’re often filled with excess sugars and unhealthy fats. Graumann offers this extremely simple recipe for a healthier version of ranch dip:

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of Greek yogurt
  • 1 packet of ranch seasoning

Mix thoroughly and then allow to sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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