Getting my son to eat his veggies is a daily battle the two of us play out like tired actors. We both know how it will end up. After 20 to 30 minutes of coaxing, he will take just a tiny nibble to appease me and I will be frustrated that he's wasting food and not eating the healthy nutrients I know his body needs, but too exhausted to keep up the fight. More often than not, his lunchbox comes home from school with a full container of uneaten peppers, cucumbers or whatever veggie I tucked in between his beloved yogurt and fruit.
I know I'm not alone. According to the CDC, 93% of kids are not eating enough vegetables. Fruit is a little better, but still 60 percent of kids don't eat enough to meet the daily recommendations. Depending on their age, gender and physical activity, kids should be eating 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 1 to 3 cups of vegetables daily.
Honestly? Getting my kids to eat that amount of produce every day seems like an insurmountable hurdle. But here's why I don't let up: Research shows that it can take as many as 10 to 15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor. Offering your kids a variety of nutritious foods shows them what a balanced diet looks like and sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.
I'm learning that it helps if you can add some fun to mealtime and take the focus off the "eat your veggies" part. These three lunchbox-art ideas make it fun for kids to eat a healthy lunch. They want to show them off to their friends at school and—best of all—eat them!
Recipe: Silly-Face Veggie Sandwich
Get your kids excited to eat their veggies with this fun veggie-face sandwich. Pack up the parts separately so they can create the face themselves and they may be even more inclined to eat it.
Recipe: Mini Cucumber Caterpillars
Kids will love eating their veggies when you turn mini cucumbers into fun caterpillar treats ready for dunking in their favorite dip! Cutting the mini cucumbers every 1/2 inch or so gives you extra places to sneak in more veggies.
Recipe: Rainbow Yogurt Bowl
Arrange vibrant, colorful fruit in the shape of a rainbow on top of yogurt for a fun and delicious healthy treat kids will actually want to eat. Or pack up the fruit separately, so kids can create their own rainbow.