I have something earth shattering to share with you today. Ready for it?
MY KIDS DON’T LIKE TO EAT VEGETABLES
What?! Your kids don’t either?! I’m glad we found each other. 🙂
Joking aside, I feel like I’m fighting a constant nutrition battle around here. With all the non-nutritious treats and “food” my kids have access to at school and are exposed to by the media, I feel like I spend an unreasonable amount of time making sure they have good eating habits.
Ever since my oldest was born 7 years ago (my other kids are 4 and 2), I feel like I’ve developed quite an arsenal of tricks to get my kids to eat their vegetables. I want to share these ideas with you today because I know many moms wonder how to do the same thing.
I think it’s important for moms with older kids to share what they know with newer moms so everyone can grow as a community. We’re in this together! Mom solidarity. Yeah!
How to Get Kids to Eat Veggies
Here are my top tips for getting children to eat (and somewhat happily) eat vegetables. I’ve used these tricks to get my kids to eat all kinds of vegetables and legumes, such as broccoli, cauliflower, corn, peas, squash, lettuce, eggplant, green beans, avocado (is that a vegetable?), edamame, carrots, and more.
I hope you are able to do the same. If you end up using one or more of these tips with success, please let me know in the comments below!
Top 10 Tricks for Raising Vegetable Eaters
10. Keep it upbeat. In other words, stay positive when it comes to veggies. Your kids will pick up on the fact that you personally can’t stand broccoli if you complain about having to eat it or scrunch up your nose every time you see it. Don’t underestimate the power of suggestion!
9. Give them a choice (and a heads up at the same time). Everyone, including your kids, likes to feel like they have some sort of control over their own life. I find my kids are much more likely to eat a vegetable if they chose it. By giving them a choice, I don’t mean you should let them decide whether or not you will serve a vegetable with dinner. What this means is that you can let them choose whether you eat broccoli or green beans as a side. If I know that we have broccoli and green beans available to eat over the next two days, I will hold up two vegetables and phrase it like “Which one of these would you like to eat today and which one would you like to eat tomorrow?” That way you’re preparing them to have to eat the other one tomorrow.
8. Make sure your kids are truly hungry at mealtime. If I allow my kids to have even a small snack within the hour before dinnertime, they are more likely than not to boycott their vegetables. Sometimes, they will even boycott almost the entire dinner because they’re just not that hungry. Think about this, especially if you want them to try a new veggie at mealtime. If they’re not hungry you might as well take the vegetable straight from the stove/oven/microwave to the trash can!
7. Serve veggies first. I got this tip from the book Getting to Yum. Serving vegetables at the beginning of the meal with the expectation that everyone will eat some before the main course is served virtually ensures they will at least eat a few bites.
6. Explain to your kids WHY they need to eat vegetables. Even at a young age, they will understand more than you think. When my daughter was 4, we read this book together. It was a new topic for her, and she really enjoyed learning about the benefits of vegetables. I even heard her telling one of her preschool friends some veggie facts she learned from that book!
5. Make eating veggies fun. I don’t personally do this very often, but I have many friends who swear by cutting veggies into fun shapes and giving them cool nicknames. Like “Superhero Vision Carrots” or “Ninja Sword Zucchini.” Part of me thinks that this might make my kids EXPECT fun shapes before they’ll touch a veggie, but I’ve heard enough positive feedback about this technique that I think it’s worth including in this list. My friend Laurie gave me a few more ways to make fun:
Tell them NOT to eat it (jokingly), as in, “You better not sneak that carrot and eat it!” Or challenge them to see who can make the loudest crunch. Or pretend the veggie is alive and goes for a walk into the dark cave (mouth)…and then when they chew, squeal “Oh no! You ate me!! Whyyy?!”J
4. Season them properly. Don’t be afraid to use butter and salt to make vegetables more tasty. Sure, you are downgrading the overall nutritional value by adding sodium and fat, but I find that my kids love just about anything with butter and salt on it AND once they get used to the taste of a particular vegetable, I slowly decrease the amount of salt and butter I use. Now they will eat many veggies nearly plain, and they don’t expect to have vegetables in a casserole format, which I believe is a particularly bad habit to have for lifetime weight maintenance.Related to this is another tip – don’t overcook the veggies. I love most vegetables, but I dislike almost any vegetable when it is overcooked and soggy. Limp peppers or soggy squash anyone? I can’t expect my kids to eat it if I think it looks/tastes yucky.
3. Keep it real. Especially for older kids (5 and up), hearing stories about veggies you don’t like but eat anyway goes a long way. Cauliflower is one veggie I’ve disliked almost my entire life. I told my 6-year-old that I don’t like it, but eat it anyway (and that I now like it *wink* because I tried it 3 times). She LOVES hearing these stories! And it always gets her to eat the vegetable in question.
2. Allow them to request dipping sauces. If my kids don’t feel like eating a particular vegetable, they will often request ketchup, ranch, mustard, or even cheese to dip it in/top it off. I allow them to do this because it allows me to get veggies in their bellies at the moment and eating broccoli with ranch is better than eating no broccoli at all. With that said, I don’t necessarily offer up dipping sauces unless requested. I don’t want them to expect to only each veggies with a side of fat or sodium, and I’d say they only make special requests a third of the time. Again, here is where making sure they’re truly hungry goes a long way.
My Best Mom Trick for Getting Kids to Like Veggies
Before I reveal my number one trick for convincing my kids to eat vegetables, I have a question for you – What’s YOUR best tip for getting kids to eat vegetables? Mine is not an all-inclusive list by any means; it’s one that I developed using trial and error. I’m always on the hunt for better ways to do mealtimes.
Please share your tip below and then head here >> MY BEST TIP FOR GETTING KIDS TO EAT (AND LIKE!) VEGGIES
After years of using these tips for getting my kids to eat veggies, I can say that they have a fairly diverse palate. In fact, my husband and I almost fell out of our seats last month when our two oldest (7 and 4) requested salads at a restaurant – with a side of ranch, of course! We were so excited and told them how proud we were of them. Now salad makes a regular appearance as a side for everyone at dinner.
This post is included in the Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home-Moms, a collaborative effort by over 50 mom bloggers
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