Eat Your Vegetables

Did you hear, "Eat your vegetables!" when you were growing up? Some moms and dads tell me they heard it so much growing up that they still don’t like to eat vegetables. Lots of moms and dads tell me that they want their children to like vegetables even though they aren’t crazy about them. This article is all about eating more vegetables in your house.

You may be wondering if those French fries you ate yesterday count as a vegetable. The answer is yes they do. There are actually 5 subgroups in the vegetable group.

The subgroups are:

  1. Dark Green Vegetables like greens and broccoli,
  2. Starchy Vegetables like corn and potatoes,
  3. Orange Vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes,
  4. Other Vegetables like green beans and salad fixings, and
  5. Dry Beans and Peas like pinto or black beans. Dried beans and peas are actually in the vegetable group and in the protein group, so they are really good for you.

What’s the big deal about eating vegetables?

It is as simple as this: people who eat more vegetables as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers, such as colon cancer.

I don’t really like vegetables but I want my kids to grow up liking them. What should I do?

This is a great question and an important one too!! Research tells us that our taste likes and dislikes are greatly shaped by age 2. Here are some tips for you to try: Eat vegetables while you are pregnant and breastfeeding. The flavors actually get passed to the baby and your child is more likely to accept the flavor of the vegetable.

  • Try not to talk negative about a vegetable even if you don’t like it. Kids learn the most by watching and listening to what we do as parents.
  • Fix the vegetables you do enjoy! Most adults that tell me they don’t like vegetables at least like a few vegetables like potatoes, corn, salad, green beans, etc.
  • Fix the ones you do like often and try fixing them different ways.

It can take up to 10 tries of a new food for a child to accept and like the food. Put a small amount of the vegetable on your child’s plate and let him take it from there. (Remember: no negative comments.)

What are the BEST vegetables for your family?

Eating any vegetable is good thing, but there are some super-powered vegetables. Super-powered vegetables are those vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

One way to recognize a super-powered vegetable is by the color. These are vegetables that are very deep in color. This would include the Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, acorn and butternut squash, and pumpkin. Deep green vegetables are also super-powered. These include bok choy, broccoli, kale, collard, turnip, and mustard greens, spinach, and romaine lettuce.

Super-powered veggies are loaded with vitamins A, C, B vitamins and Calcium. Deep green vegetables and legumes are also high in Folate. Folate (also called Folic Acid or Folacin) is a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects such as Spina Bifida.

Legumes, or dried beans and lentils like navy, pinto, black, and kidney beans are also super-powered. They are packed with fiber, and are great sources of folate, iron. They are also a really good source of low-fat protein and a good meat substitute.

Early Head Start 
Nutrition News

August 2007

From your nutritionist, Ann