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By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with A/Prof Marion Aw, Senior Consultant, Division of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Nutrition, Hepatology and Liver Transplantation, National University Hospital.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That’s a really good saying, and one that parents should adopt when it comes to encouraging children to eat their veggies.

A cup of patience, a spoonful of creativity and a dash of colour are key ingredients in getting a child to not only eat, but enjoy his greens!

Be a Good Role Model

Are YOU eating your vegetables? If your child notices that mummy and daddy aren’t eating their vegetables, it’s no surprise that they’re not eating it either! Set a good example by finishing the vegetables on your plate with delight.

Related: Children See, Children Do

Be Patient

Sometimes, a child might take a few tries (it might take as many as 10 times!) before they get used to a new food. It’s not that they hate that vegetable, they might just need some time to get used to the texture and taste of it. Don’t give up and stop serving a particular vegetable just because your child tossed it out on your first attempt.

Related: Eat Your Veggies!

Get Creative

Think of different ways to cook the dish. Cut food into interesting shapes such as star-shaped carrots to attract his attention. Greens don’t always have to be green. Introduce colourful vegetables such as corn, yellow peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplants, and pumpkins to get him excited about vegetables!

Related: Cute Bentos for Kids

Get Them Involved

Bring them grocery shopping and let them pick the vegetable. Show them the cooking process, and if they’re old enough, let them help out. When kids are involved in the entire process, they feel invested and excited about what they’ve helped put on the dinner table.

Related: Grocery Shopping on a Shoestring Budget

Build a Healthy Relationship with Food

Children are known to be fussy eaters when it comes to food and getting them to eat their greens can be a difficult task at times.

Some parents resort to bribery or punishments in an attempt to get their children to eat their veggies, but this isn’t an ideal solution. We want children to have a healthy and positive attitude with food and build healthy eating habits that will stick with them all the way to adulthood.

Offering them a reward (“you get to have ice-cream if you finish the chye sim”) or punishing them (“no TV for you if you don’t eat your spinach!”) does not help in cultivating healthy eating habits. We want them to enjoy eating vegetables, not turn it into a chore or a bargaining chip.

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