Coercing children to eat their vegetables is a familiar struggle. Over the years, parents up and down the land have adopted unusual tactics in an effort to make greens seem palatable. Sometimes they resort to sneaking veggies into family meals – hiding cauliflower under cheese sauce, for instance, or chopping tiny nuggets of vegetables into soups, quiches and casseroles.
The Green Giant – Superhero of Vegetables
It’s not just parents. Advertising execs have got in on the act, too. Green Giant is perhaps the most famous example, its brawny mascot acting as a coded message: eat greens and you’ll grow to be big and strong. Speaking of Green Giant, he’s just had a multimillion dollar facelift courtesy of ad agency Deutsch.
Fry Wants Green for Greens
It seems that no matter what parents do, the majority of children balk at the idea of eating vegetables on a consistent basis. One new and novel approach to tackling their apathy is to bribe them with cash. The suggestion comes from Tam Fry, head spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum and honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation. Fry thinks that parents should offer kids financial inducements in order to help boost the nation’s health.
The proposal follows a YouGov survey last week that revealed some worrying statistics. One was that almost a third (29%) of parents in Scotland have abandoned adding greens to their children’s plate at some stage. In a way, it’s unsurprising: in another 2015 study, only 21% of Scottish adults were said to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. If parents aren’t setting the right example, children’s nutrition is certain to fall by the wayside.
‘Money is always a good incentive,’ says Fry, who wants kids to eat their vegetables while learning about money management. ‘It is a tangible reward for children eating their vegetables but allows them to understand the value of money and how to save it for later in life.’
Some, though, fear it could teach them another, less savoury lesson – that bribery is a legitimate means of getting what you want. After all, the inverse would seem more likely – children have doubtless offered to eat their vegetables if they are paid remuneration. At the very least Fry’s proposal will divide opinion.
Save Money by Eating More Greens
The recently-launched Eat Better Feel Better campaign aims to encourage parents to save money by eating healthier food. It also lists recipe ideas to ‘beat the teatime tantrums’, a downloadable Food Lab which introduces fun into the meal prepping process and information about healthy eating events throughout Scotland.
‘We understand from listening to parents that getting children to eat vegetables can be challenging but Eat Better Feel Better is focused on providing simple, quick and cheap ways to make mealtimes healthier and less stressful,’ says Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell.
What About Tasty Smoothies?
One popular workaround parents have found some success with is smoothies. Perhaps it’s because the prospect of drinking a luridly coloured, milkshake-like smoothie is more appealing to kids than crunching their way through a heap of broccoli. Whatever the reason, smoothies are a great way of ensuring kids consume the vitamins, minerals and fibre found in the superfood vegetables they are so studiously avoiding.
To improve the taste, you can add real fruit, natural fruit juice or coconut milk to the blender along with your chopped vegetables. And if chopping sounds like too much effort, or if buying so many vegetables proves expensive, there are supplements worth considering. Super Kids’ Vibrance, which is formulated by green food specialist Vibrant Health, is just one of them. The winner of a 2016 Taste for Life Essentials Award, it is packed with nutrient-rich greens, essential trace minerals and a high number of probiotics and digestive enzymes. It also provides a dozen vitamins, including A, C and D3.
Specially formulated for kids between the ages of two and 12, Super Kids’ Vibrance actually comes in two appetising flavours: Cool Chocolate and Awesome Apple. As such, you probably don’t need to bother with the deal-sweetening supplementary fruits. Just mix it up in a shaker or blender with water and you’re good to go.
Other products like Field of Greens, pHresh Greens and Green Vibrance are packed with energising grass juice powders, alkalising green vegetables, sea algae and grasses. You can mix mostly with water, though a splash or two of apple juice enhances the taste.
A Final Thought
Ultimately, conditioning kids to eat their greens requires a conscious effort – and it’s best to get youngsters into the habit of munching veggies from an early age. Neglect to nurture an early love of greens and you may end up having to follow Mr. Fry’s advice. In that case, your progeny could bankrupt you a lot sooner than you might’ve possibly imagined.