At Nurture Life, we’re working toward a vision of healthier futures for every child, and “veggies on every plate” has been one of our core values since day one. That’s why we’re so excited to be joining Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in their latest campaign: Veggies Early and Often.
We’re already collaborating with PHA on the Shaping Early Palates initiative, so this is just another way that we’re coming together to help change the way kids eat—not just today but for a lifetime!
What Is “Veggies Early and Often”?
The Veggies Early and Often initiative is part of a greater mission to raise a generation of veggie lovers. Just as we recognized years ago when we founded Nurture Life, PHA is calling attention to the dire lack of vegetables in the meals that are marketed and served to our littlest eaters.
Knowing that early food exposure is a significant determinant of a child’s future taste preferences, PHA is working to rally families, parents, food companies and health professionals around four key evidence-based facts:
- Veggies early and often are critical to a healthy life.
- Through exposure early and often, kids will grow to love veggies.
- Early veggie variety is key to raising an adventurous, healthy eater.
- The most effective and sustainable approach is to be a role model for our kids—cooking and eating a balanced, plant-forward diet.
Veggies Early and Often is kicking off at the perfect moment, as the newly released USDA Dietary Guidelines for 2020–2025 have expanded to include infants and toddlers for the first time ever. But even with these newly released guidelines, it can be hard for parents to know if the products they’re buying are truly veggie-forward. That’s why PHA’s Veggies Early and Often icon will be added to products that meet their veggie standards. Parents simply have to look out for this icon to know that the food they’re buying will give their kids a healthy serving of veggies.
How We’re Supporting PHA’s Veggie-Forward Mission
It would be difficult to summarize Nurture Life’s healthy kids meal philosophy any better than “veggies early and often!” That’s why we’re so proud to be a part of PHA’s latest initiative, first as an early collaborator and now as an official partner.
Here’s what we’re doing to support the key tenets of Veggies Early and Often.
Helping Parents Teach Their Kids to Love Veggies
One of the most important principles of Veggies Early and Often is that with enough repeated exposure, kids can learn to love veggies. What often starts as a firm “no way!” will eventually move to begrudging acceptance, then to lukewarm tolerance and finally towards genuine enjoyment.
At Nurture Life, we know that this progression happens, and we offer many different baby, toddler and kid meals to help parents guide their kids through these stages:
- For kids who are most resistant to veggies, we have meals with “hidden” vegetables inside—like our Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash, where the squash is smoothly blended directly into the four-cheese sauce. (We don’t recommend serving only hidden veggies, but this can be a great way to slowly incorporate veggies while working toward more obvious vegetables on the plate!)
- For kids who are moving closer to veggie acceptance, we have meals where veggies are present and identifiable but mixed into the rest of the dish, such as our six-veggie Minestrone Stew. We also have meals that feature veggies front and center but focus on naturally sweet, kid-friendly choices—like our Chicken Bites with Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Green Beans.
- For kids who are gaining an appreciation for veggies, we offer more adventurous veggies like the delightful lemon-zested asparagus of our Tortellini Alfredo meal.
Offering Veggie Variety at Every Age
Another core principle of Veggies Early and Often is that variety is important. The more varied the veggies, the more varied the vitamins and minerals. Kids are also more receptive to new flavors in their earliest years of life, with taste acceptance peaking as early as 24 months—making early veggie variety critical to raising an adventurous eater who doesn’t rely on standard “kids meals.”
This is exactly why Nurture Life offers many different vegetables from the earliest ages, including our Finger Foods for babies 10–24 months. Even babies working on their pincer grasp still get to experience the many colors, textures, flavors and smells of real, fresh veggies!
Our veggie variety includes carrots, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, peas, butternut squash, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, bok choy and more.
Helping Parents Cope with Picky Eating
Even though we know that “early and often” does work, we also recognize that repeated exposure to veggies can be extremely challenging for parents to commit to. Let’s face it—some days, it’s an accomplishment just to get food on the table, let alone to prepare fresh veggies that will very likely be rejected (and maybe even followed by a mini meltdown).
To help parents get through the picky eating behaviors so commonly brought on by veggies, we’ve created a bunch of practical, hands-on resources:
- 3 Techniques to Introduce New Foods
- 4 Practical Tips for Feeding a Picky Toddler
- Our 10 Favorite Picky Eater Books
- How to Encourage a Picky Eater Without Food Rewards
- 6 Helpful Tools for Picky Eaters
- 15 Vegetables That Are Perfect for Picky Eaters
While these articles won’t prevent your child from rejecting veggies, they can help you find strategies for overcoming the “no” with less stress on everyone.
Providing an Easy Way to Role Model Healthy Eating
The last core tenet of Veggies Early and Often encourages parents and caregivers to be a veggie role model for their kids. Prioritizing a balanced diet for the entire family is one of the best ways to encourage kids to accept and appreciate veggies from an early age. If veggies are the norm, kids will accept them!
Again, we recognize that this can be easier said than done given the busy pace of our day-to-day lives, so we’ve created nutritious, well-balanced meal options for everyone at the table. Babies can enjoy our Finger Foods while the older family members choose a favorite from our Toddler Meals, Kid Meals and Teen & Adult Meals. No matter the age range or portion size, we make veggies a priority for everyone!
Nurture Life’s vision is a big one, and we’re honored to work with organizations like PHA to help parents teach their kids a lifelong appreciation of fresh, healthy food. If you have any questions about how to get more veggies on your kids’ plates (or high chair trays!), please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.