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Let's face it: Feeding kids can be a struggle, especially when you're trying to make sure they get a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables. Many moms resort to employing creative methods just to meet the recommended half-cup of vegetables—the daily requirement—for preschool children.
Tina Langit-Bagro, Mindy Lagdameo, and Jed Castel are no exceptions.
Tina exposed her eldest child Iñigo to vegetables as early as she could, so he now eats them without a fuss. However, she found it especially challenging to make her younger daughter, 5-year-old daughter Cara, eat vegetables as she prefers to have sweet-tasting food. "She eats only bananas and ripe mangoes, rarely eat veggies, loves sweet stuff, and sneaks in junk food when we're not looking," the mom says.
Mindy says her eldest Ellie, 3, wouldn't even touch her vegetables. "Ellie had a stage of just refusing vegetables," she shares. "Instead of stressing both of us out too much, I continued to give her broccoli and carrot juice until she decided to eat them."
But with persistence and dedication, these experienced moms were able to introduce various vegetables to their children's diets successfully. Here's how they did it:
1. Lead by example.
Mindy, a full-time fitness coach and pre- and postnatal fitness specialist, makes sure always to eat healthily and be active herself so Ellie would naturally follow.
"I think what worked best is I try to represent a healthy lifestyle with what I do," says the mother of two girls. "She sees me eat the vegetables and then follows suit. Monkey see monkey do."
Another trick she does is to offer Ellie vegetables that are naturally sweet, like carrots. "Ellie will easily eat [them] raw or oven-roasted when the flavor comes out more," Mindy shares.
2. Turn the veggies into characters.
Jed says making veggies familiar and fun to her three kids is key. "When I'm feeding them beef steak, for example, I introduce the white onions as the 'healthy snake,'" she shares. "They end up asking for more as they pretend to be snake-eaters."
3. Find different ways to cook the veggies.
Tina's kids prefer nilaga, but will also eat ginisang gulay—broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and others. Tina advises being adventurous with how you serve vegetables.
"Give them sweet and sour fruits and veggies that can be easily held, like sitaw, broccoli, cauliflower. [Some] veggies and fruits that can be mashed, like squash, potato, and carrots," she says. "Be adventurous. The babies and kids can handle it!"
4. Get 'sneaky'!
When all else fails, Mindy recommends to "sneak [vegetables] into 'yummy' food."
"Give them lumpiang shanghai with more carrots than meat, burger patties with carrots, or oven-roasted kamote or squash fries. When I don't have time to make it, I order from a company that makes kiddie food that has hidden veggies in it."
5. Introduce kids to veggies as soon as they can eat solid food.
Tina was extra mindful about familiarizing her eldest, 6-year-old Iñigo, with vegetables early on, so he has been eating them without a problem. "Iñigo eats veggies and fruits, doesn't like too sweet food, and can stop himself from eating junk food," she shares.
Her daughter, Cara, on the other hand, puts up a struggle—something Tina attributes to her being easy-going about her daughter's eating habits.
Tina concludes, "When you feed them veggies from the time they're able to eat (at six months), they can easily eat them when they are toddlers and beyond." She adds that she now plans on following Iñigo's eating patterns for her youngest child, Amia.
Jed echoes this sentiment. "While there are some veggies [my kids] don't eat as personal preference, I've never had a problem with feeding them," she says. "The key is to feed them veggies as soon as they start eating so that there is no discrimination between meat and veggies," she adds.
Moms, always be mindful about your children's health and nutrition. Do try different ways to get vegetables into your kids' diets until you find those that work, and provide them with the right kind and amount of food for their age.
In this video, a registered nutritionist and dietitian explains the importance of giving your child the right kind and amount of food and how it helps with their growth and development:
In addition to feeding them a balanced diet of good carbs, protein, fruits, and veggies, give them a glass or two of age-appropriate milk that contains all the vitamins and minerals they need to fulfill their recommended daily nutrient intake.
NIDO 3+ contains nutrients like DHA for the brain, Prebio 3 for digestion, and other essential vitamins and minerals like calcium and protein for overall growth and development of children ages 3 to 5. NIDO 3+ is the only growing-up milk that contains Lactobacillus Protectus with L. Rhamnosus, which is scientifically proven to support your child's respiratory defenses. It also helps protect them against pathogens in the upper respiratory tract, which causes common coughs and colds.