Vegetables: Are They Really Necessary?
I have a dirty little secret: my kid gets all of her vegetable servings from v8 Fusion juice boxes.
I know. I hate myself.
When it comes to her fruit servings, she is golden. Seriously, she will eat everything from bananas to oranges to apples to kiwis to mangoes to strawberries; she's a lot like me. I'm a fruitaholic.
Yet, I like my veggies, too. Some sautéed bell peppers? YUM. Lightly salted and browned cauliflower and broccoli medley? To die for.
My stubborn-as-nails toddler, however, won't eat a single pea. Even FRIED vegetables receive the cold-shoulder treatment. Fried okra, really?! What southern kid turns down fried okra?! Even french fries (OK, I know I'm really reaching when I call those a “vegetable”) become nothing more than spoons with which she eats ketchup.
You could say I'm at my wits' end.
During her 3-year-old check-up last week, when they were drilling me on my parenting skills (anyone else get a complex during those visits? Hands? No? Just me?), I realized just how much I depended on those v8 boxes for her vegetable intake. Too much. I also, in an attempt to tip the scales in the veggies' direction, was not offering her enough water.
Sigh. I was 0 for 2. You know what that means? It's time to get creative.
Since broccoli can't be trees, and peas can't be balls, and the fact that carrots are orange doesn't make them pretty means that I am officially going to lie to my kid. I must become stealthy.
And, this will be no easy feat. This is a kid who one day she decided she didn't like the peanut butter or bread with her peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich. So, what did she do? She pulled apart my neatly cut squares, licked the honey side, and left a pile of mushy bread behind. Oh, and I'm one step ahead of you: I did try swirling the peanut butter and honey together and using that instead of individually. No go. She pulled one square apart, looked at it, looked back at me, and shook her head.
“Nope,” she said. That's it. Just “Nope.” Hey, kid, there's a zero in front of that three, not a one. You're 3 years old, not 13. Lose the ‘tude.
You can see this is going to take a lot more thought than just sneaking some avocado or tomato into her grilled cheese (geez, that sounds amazing right now). She can't even know it exists in this house!
How should I do it? Smoothies? We're not really a smoothie family. I can't see her slurping down a green, goopy, and thick concoction. I won't even slurp down a green, goopy concoction; I know my 3-year-old won't.
Have her watch YouTube videos of kids eating vegetables (you know those videos exist — there are videos for everything)? Or the Yo Gabba Gabba song where the weird, green one sings about the green beans wanting to go to a party in his tummy. I'll make sure I have some green beans on hand. She'll mimic anything that one of her favorite characters does. OH! Maybe she'll eat some celery — like the Wonder Pets! If only the minions from Despicable Me were crazy over yellow summer squash instead of bananas. She eats bananas like they're going out of style because she wants to be just like the minions.
It's easier to think up ways to entice her or trick her into eating vegetables, because I have tried, and I also saw my sister go through the “You're not leaving that chair until you have three more bites of carrots!” phase. It's not pretty. The toddler is crying, the parents are exasperated and annoyed, and it makes the rest of the evening unbearable. I also don't want her to think vegetables are the enemy. It took my sister needing to shed the obligatory college freshman 15 pounds to garner a taste for salad, and I believe it's because my parents made her eat so many bites of specific foods when she was little.
I'm still going to keep a lookout for ways to make vegetables more appealing and fun, and in the meantime, I think I'll start her on a good kid multivitamin and replace some of her juice with Pediasure.
And, of course, Pinterest is the first stop. Such a love/hate relationship with that site!
What do you do to get your littles interested in veggies?