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Getting kids to eat vegetables

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Dasia Dasia 6 years, 3 months ago.

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    Toya C

    I dealt with some meal time issues in my house lately, and right now one of the biggest challenges I’m facing is getting my kids to eat their veggies. Does anyone have creative ways of serving veggies that get your kids to eat them? It seems the only thing that works these days is hummus and veggies…but a lot more hummus seems to be consumed than veggies! Would appreciate any tips.

    Profile photo of Dasia

    I’ve had this struggle with my 3 year old, too. CNN put out an article with some great tips a few months back. Check it out here –

    A few of my favorite tips from the article that actually worked are calling vegetables by different/more fun names, using the "no thank you bite" rule, and hiding the veggies in food.


    Once upon a time I taught kids’ cooking classes and also led Picky Eater workshops for parents. Here are a few of the suggestions that I found most handy as a mom to a "sometimes picky" preschooler.

    • A nutritionist presenter once said this and it has always stuck with me in terms of preventing the eating power struggle, paraphrased: “It’s the parents job to decide what is given to their child and the child’s job to decide if and how much he/she will eat.”
    • I keep in mind that Olivia will not starve if she chooses not to eat her dinner. I often let her bring her plate to the sink even when it’s full. Though from a very young age we made sure she knew that she was not going to have snacks later if she got hungry from not eating her dinner. It didn’t take long for her to learn this lesson – a couple of hungry mornings. Olivia was always in the 5-10% for weight as well but I knew I didn’t want to engage in the power struggle early on so I had to really get outside of my “nursing mania” (long story) and take my own advice when we started with solid foods.
    • The best thing I did was the one meal per family rule. I do allow some flexibility here if we are say, combining our foods in a salad, Olivia gets hers deconstructed because she doesn’t like things combined. I also make adjustments for personal preferences like when we make our own pizza – I like veggies, she likes only fresh mozzarella and sauce. But, in general, all the foods go on the plate even though I know she probably won’t eat asparagus. I tell her it has to go on her plate and she can choose to eat it or not. This lends to the 10-18 exposure idea which, I have to say, has helped with certain vegetables. Olivia will now eat zucchini some of the time (not all) and maybe just a piece or two but it’s a start.
    • One thing my husband started recently was a rating chart. When Olivia tries something new she gets to rate it using 1-5 stars. We keep the chart on the wall in the kitchen and update it when she tries something new. I’m looking at the chart now – tomatoes and steak both have 5 stars (the best) and lettuce is down on the bottom with 2 stars.
    • A final thing we have always done with Olivia starting at 6-8 months is exposure to food. When she was an infant it was just holding onto a carrot or gnawing on it. She was shelling peas by age 1 even before she would ever eat one. We also do lots of pick your own farms and keep a garden, frequent farmers markets, read books about food (I have an arsenal from my old Cooks-n-Books class). We have always talked about how food is important for our bodies. We started off with the concept of how food helps our bodies to grow when she was very young and now we read a book about what happens to food as it travels through the body. She loves to hear how it becomes poop – sounds gross but she’s also learning that the nutrients are then sent to her brain to help her think, run, play, color, etc.

    Love love love the advice just above! For more really down-to-earth & do-able advice on influencing our children’s eating habits, I love Dr. Sears’ "9 Simple Steps" (to Raising a healthy Eater). It’s on YouTube at:
    I have to say that I’d never heard of anything in which 50%+ of parents reported their kids eating more fruits & veggies! Call me if you have questions: 303-817-6947.

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