Vary Your Veggies
Vary Your Veggies encourages caregivers of young children to offer vegetables to their children more often. In a brief, one-on-one contact, the caregiver can receive information tailored to their interest, needs, and readiness to change. The approach builds on the caregiver's strengths and aims to foster self-efficacy as well as provide some specific suggestions for helping children learn to enjoy vegetables.
Why focus on caregivers offering vegetables, rather than the amount of vegetables the child is eating?
Children can't eat vegetables unless someone else buys, prepares and offers them. The first step to getting kids to eat, and like, vegetables is to expose kids to vegetables, over and over again. The action of offering vegetables - buying, preparing, and putting them on the table - is the caregiver's responsibility. Eating them is the child's responsibility. This curriculum is directed to the caregiver, and the goal is to help motivate them to change behaviors that are within their control.
What's unique about Vary Your Veggies?
The intent is to build the caregiver's self-efficacy, or belief that "they CAN" offer veggies more often, by building on their strengths and offering some ideas for "HOW" to do it. The balance between how much focus to put on self-efficacy, and how much to focus on "how," depends on the caregiver's stage of change. For those caregivers not contemplating change yet, the emphasis is on raising awareness of the benefits of change.
Lesson plans are provided for brief, one-on-one contacts in settings such as WIC clinics. Vary Your Veggies can also be used as a curriculum in settings with repeated contacts such as home visits, allowing the learner to address multiple barriers to serving vegetables while they progress through the stages of change.
Consistent with MyPyramid recommendations, there is no right or wrong or ideal number of "servings" or an optimal "serving size," or right or wrong or ideal number of times to offer vegetables.
Handouts and recipes are included, and lessons make use of common nutrition education materials such as food models and photo cards. No cooking or food preparation is required.
An end-of-lesson evaluation encourages the caregiver to name one thing they can do to offer vegetables to their child more often, building in the potential for follow-up in some educational settings.
Vary Your Veggies stands on four theoretical "legs:"
Stages of Change (Transtheoretical Model). A screening tool helps educators determine the caregiver's stage of change with respect to offering vegetables to their child. Brief lesson plans address common barriers and are specific to the stage of change.
Learner-centered adult education. Learners can choose a topic of interest and there are multiple opportunities in each lesson for the learner to direct their own learning. Lesson plans are structured in the "Anchor-Add-Apply-Away" format described by Joye Norris in her book, "From Telling to Teaching." (add link)
Strengths Perspective. The strengths perspective is a way of framing the interaction between educator and caregiver to bring out the caregiver's strengths and build on them for further behavior change.
The Feeding Relationship. The parent's job is to provide vegetables to their child; the child's job is to decide how much to eat.
How can I get Vary Your Veggies?
Vary Your Veggies was designed for Wisconsin agencies that serve Food Stamp eligible individuals and families.
Preview Vary Your Veggies.
Download the curriculum.
Vary Your Veggies was adapted from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa State University Extension Veggie Grant Project materials and theoretical basis. For more information on the Iowa Veggie Grant, see http://www.idph.state.ia.us/hpcdp/vg_home.asp.