1:4 is No Good
Only one of my four children eat any and all vegetables that are put in front of them. In fact, she (my 5 year old), specifically requests salads and vegetables for meals and snacks. I have no idea why she is the way she is. We put the same food in front of all four children and over time, three began refusing vegetables until we reached the point of a standoff. Now what?
I feel like this topic has been the height of parental worry for decades. How do I get my kids to eat vegetables? I don’t have a fail proof answer for you, but I can tell you how we were able to get our children (all of them) to eat at least two servings of vegetables a day.
In watching my kiddos and what they tended to reject, I noticed they were rejecting most cooked vegetables. Maybe it was how I was preparing them, or what I mixed them with, how they were seasoned, etc… but I did find they were more likely to eat the vegetables if they were raw. Carrots are a favorite. Baby carrots are the easiest to get them to eat, but they do get sick of them after a while. The petite baby carrots (the skinny ones) seem to be their favorite, and also the “baby carrots” at Whole Foods that are peeled and have a small green stem on top. They will also eat broccoli but only if it’s broken up into smaller stems. I’m pretty sure it was my brother that coined the term Christmas Trees in my family, but that was a great intro to broccoli for my little ones. They also like “leaves” or raw baby spinach. Two of my kids like cherry tomatoes, and two like celery. Basically, anything that comes on a raw veggie tray from the grocery.
Somehow, my kids don’t like dips but I prefer carrots, broccoli and celery if they are dipped in something. Ranch, thousand island, cheese, creamy Italian or even peanut, almond or sunflower butter. Kids love to dip. It becomes a whole different taste and can hide flavors they may not love. Remember – even if they are higher in fat or add calories, they are still getting the good stuff – the veggies into their bodies! Moderation is key.
I often sneak veggies into our meals and the kids were none the wiser. Now that they help prepare meals, they know it’s in there but they don’t fight it because it doesn’t taste different from what they’re used to. Some of the ways I hide veggies/legumes are puréed chick peas mixed with butter and parmesan on pasta. I also include carrot juice and baby spinach in shakes and smoothies. I add puréed veggies to applesauce and pumpkin to many baked goods.
Make it a Challenge
One last option is to challenge them to eat vegetables. Kids (especially the pre-teen age) love challenges. I’ve filmed my kids for their (future) YouTube channel eating all sorts of veggies and new foods. It becomes a game and also establishes some accountability because people could be watching them.
Give it Time
I firmly believe that children will eat what their bodies need. Keep putting good, healthy food in front of them. Limit their access to unhealthy foods and over time, they will adapt. Keep trying mama! We’re all in it with you.