Myths about vegetables and children
There is a reason why mothers in India, and all over the world, advocate the goodness of vegetables when it comes to their children’s diet. Adding a lot of vegetables to your kid’s menu is one of the best ways of giving them a lot of nutrients and variety, as well as fewer calories. Vegetables contain almost all the essential vitamins and minerals, and many of them also contain complex carbohydrates that are a very healthy energy source.
Most veggies are also packed with dietary fibre while legumes are protein-packed. As the cholesterol and fat contents are minimal, consuming vegetables daily is highly recommended. Despite that, there are several myths about vegetables that do the rounds. It’s important to know what is actually right and wrong when it comes to vegetables, so that you can serve healthy and balanced meals to your child and fulfil the RDA requirement of macro and micro nutrients.
Myth 1: Cooked vegetables give less nutrition than raw vegetables
Fact: Cooking does destroy some of the available nutrients, but it depends on the vegetable too. For example, tomatoes release vitamin A only when cooked, and this is easily digested. It becomes much easier for the body to absorb lycopene, which is a cancer-fighting antioxidant that is found in abundance in cooked tomatoes, unlike raw tomatoes. In general, it is always better to roast or steam vegetables than boil them, as boiling leaches out the water-soluble vitamins.
Myth 2: Potatoes make your kids fat.
Fact: This is one of the common myths about vegetables that we believe in. Potatoes in fact do not have any fat and have very few calories. They are, on the other hand, packed with potassium and fibre, which can increase your kid’s satiety and help manage his or her weight. The truth is that, the way you prepare and cook potatoes contribute to your kid’s weight. Hence, fried potatoes can have a fattening effect. However, boiled or roasted potatoes are alright when consumed in moderation.
Myth 3: All kids hate eating vegetables
Fact: This is a popular myth about vegetables for kids. Not all kids dislike veggies, after all. Some of them grow up to love all vegetables and some are choosy about the vegetables that they eat. To help the situation, keep pairing new vegetables with familiar ones that you know your kids love. Give them vegetables of different textures, sizes, colours, and shapes. You can even add vegetables like pureed carrots to your kid’s favourite food like salsa or tomato sauce. Most importantly, remember to be a role model yourself by eating your vegetables.
Myth 4: If you want your kids to eat their vegetables, you need to bribe them with dessert.
Fact: This is one of the common and harmful myths about vegetables for toddlers. Bribing your kids with dessert to make them eat their veggies will only make them dislike vegetables even more. Instead, keep giving a variety of vegetables to your child, and let him or her choose. Just make sure that they do have some of it. You can also combine slightly bitter vegetables like sprouts with some cream cheese or some other seasoning that your kid already loves.
Myth 5: As vegetables are healthy, kids can eat as much as they want.
Fact: Giving your kids too many vegetables is also not good practice. Be mindful of their capacity and understand that they need to have some appetite to accommodate other food groups also, to have a balanced diet. Giving your kids only vegetables will make them deficient in certain essential nutrients like protein and healthy fat. Moreover, too much of fibre can cause discomforts like gassiness or bloating. Moderation and variety are always important.
Myth 6: Vegetable juices and smoothies are as healthy as eating whole vegetables.
Fact: If most parts of a vegetable or the whole of it is used to make a beverage, then it can be considered healthy, as all of the nutrients and fibre are preserved. So, it is essentially like eating a whole vegetable. The nutritional value will increase even more if fresh vegetables are used. Vegetables are also easily digestible when blended. Remember that bottled veggie juices contain no fibre and most or all of the nutrients are lost while being processed. So, without any fibre, the juices are easily digested and cause a spike in sugar levels, making the kids hungry soon. However, eating whole vegetables will keep your kids full for a longer time, and provide only a few calories. On the other hand, smoothies often contain milk, sweeteners, and protein powders, which quickly increase the number of calories. And this is not as healthy as a glass of juice.
Myths about vegetables need to be debunked if you wish to keep your kids healthy, the right way. So, as parents, make sure to keep the above facts in mind, and give your kids a healthy serving of vegetables for optimal growth and development. Ensure moderation and variety while planning balanced meals.