Last year, it was reported on CNN.com that only 22% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are currently
meeting the government’s regulations when it comes to vegetable consumption. This isn’t good news
because we all know that especially when it comes to a child’s development, vegetables are a vital
nutritional resource; they’re a building block chocked full of the vitamins and minerals that they need to
become healthy and strong individuals.
However, if you have a child, you also know that if they don’t like veggies, it can be an extreme battle of
the wills when it comes to getting them to eat them. The truth of the matter is that kids don’t care much
about what all of the research says. All they know is that “Vegetables are icky.” For them, it’s just that
If you’re someone who’s at your wits end when it comes to getting your kids to eat their vegetables, here
are some ideas to try.
Do some taste tests. Although there a few, it’s rare that children hate all vegetables. In other words,
if they don’t like peas, they may like carrots. If they won’t want squash, they may be open to some corn
on the cob. Don’t get immediately discouraged because the salad that you make continually remains on
their plate every time you make it. Get creative with your presentation methods. Hold a taste test contest
at home where a first prize ribbon is awarded to the vegetable that your child likes the most (and eats
the most of). There are a couple of benefits to this. One, they had to eat at least a spoonful of a couple of
vegetables to know which one they liked and two, they got rewarded for actually finishing a portion of
their favorite one.
Let them create some of the menus with you. If you’ve ever gone back and forth with your child
about why they should finish the food on their plate, before long, you may notice that it’s not so much
about the vegetables, but them feeling like they are being forced against their will to do something that
they don’t want to do. In the wise words of Dr. Phil, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”
Yes, even with children, sometimes this is something that we have to ask ourselves. Compromising is not
about “letting them have their way”, but finding a common ground that both the parent and the child can
live with. A lot of children will feel better about eating vegetables of they have choices and one choice can
be to have them help in making some of the dinner menus. For instance, if they would like some macaroni
and cheese for dinner, then let them know that means they will need to choose between three vegetables:
maybe between some green beans, some fresh cucumber or a sweet potato. If they would like to have a
burger night, let them know that’s doable, but a salad or a portion of greens will have to go with it. If your
kids know that they have at least some say in the kinds of foods that they eat, it will provide them with the
positive reinforcement that they need to make them happier about (or at least more willing to) make the
decision to eat their vegetables (the one that they got to choose).
Feed them when they’re hungry. When it comes to getting your kids to eat their veggies, this is
probably one of the most overlooked tips that there is. If your child has been snacking on junk food
since they got home from school, the likelihood of them eating their Brussels sprouts at dinner is pretty
slim; however, when a child is hungry, there’s a far greater chance that they are not going to be picky
about there being some cabbage on their plate or broccoli that has been dipped in a bit of California olive oil (instead of butter). Plus, if you make snacks like carrot sticks and mango slices the options for before
dinner and cake and cookies as the dessert, it gives them even more motivation to finish everything that’s
on their plate. You got some vegetables in them and they got a little something sweet in return. The war of
the wills is over and without them even noticing, for the most part, you won!