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HEALTHY LIVING: Mama said, ‘Eat your vegetables!’

We all know that vegetables are an important source of vitamins and minerals. Many of us enjoy a wide variety of nature’s bounty. And then there are those that wouldn’t be caught dead with salad on their plate unless it was potato salad.

If you are reading this column, you are truly interested in living a healthy life and that includes a balance of exercise, fellowship, and nutrition.

Every parent has asked the question, “How do I get my child to eat more vegetables?” First, don’t impose your food choices on your child. You don’t like tomatoes? Ok, but don’t make an ugly face when you see tomatoes, say “YUK”, and then expect your child to cheerfully try them.

Use the Try Two Bites rule. When introducing a new vegi to your child, tell them they only have to try 2 bites and after chewing and swallowing, if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat more at that time.

My younger daughter didn’t like green beans as a baby and at 37, she still doesn’t. However, she loves Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, and just about everything else. My husband declared early on in our marriage that he did not like green peas. After some questioning I found out why, his mother served peas out of a can and simply poured them into a pan and heated them up. BLEH! I didn’t blame him. He now enjoys peas regularly, frozen peas that have been steamed lightly and seasoned. So, it’s not always the vegetables fault, it how you present them. Broccoli is so versatile, served hot, cold, raw, or cooked. However, it loses it healthful impact when drowned in fatty cheese sauce.

In an effort to lead a healthier life, my husband and I started eating “clean” a little over 6 months ago. Almost no processed foods, no “white”-rice-potatoes-baked goods-added sugar-pasta(very hard for this Italian girl). Lots of fresh and frozen vegetables, legumes, chicken, fish, fruits, and very little beef. The difference is amazing. Very few, if any, digestive upsets, no indigestion, no bloating, and my husband is losing weight without making any other lifestyle changes.

To incorporate more vegetables into your children’s nutritional intake, make them a part of the process. When at the grocery store, let them be part of the selection process. This is also a good time to teach them about where vegetables come from and how they get to market. When you get the vegis home, let your children help process them, wash, cut them up (if old enough), and prepare them.

Making small changes can have a lasting impact.

Give Peas a Chance!

Jody Holton

Marketing Director, YMCA Southeast Texas

jholton@ymcasetx.org