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How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables

Johnnie May McDonald - Salad Station Blogger Contributor

Many parents wonder how to get their child to eat vegetables. It may feel like an impossible task, but it is accomplishable. These tips will teach your kids to not eat their veggies, but love them too!


KID FRIENDLY VEGGIES


Use these kid friendly vegetables to create recipes for toddlers who hate veggies. These are also great for hidden vegetable recipes for toddlers. 

  • Bell Peppers

  • Squash

  • Mushrooms

  • Cabbage

  • Kale

  • Peas

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Potatoes


HOW TO ENCOURAGE CHILD TO EAT VEGETABLES


1. Making cooking a family affair.


Vegetables can seem mysterious and eerie to children. A great way to take the mystery out of vegetables is by letting your children get familiar with them during meal prep. Not only is cooking a good bonding activity, it introduces your children to a life skill. Children are more likely to try food when they’ve helped prepare. 

2. Eat what you serve.


You are your children’s biggest example. If they see you eating and enjoying vegetables, they are much more likely to do the same. Let your children see you making healthy choices. Whether you're in the drive-thru or at home, allow your children to see you choosing fruit over fries. This will make healthy eating more of a lifestyle and less of a chore for children.



3. Make it colorful.


Eating is an experience that we use more than one of our senses to do. We use all of our senses. Children use their sight heavily when they eat. They love colorful things. This is also true for eating. Try to use multiple colored foods when feeding them. For instance, for lunch you could serve your child chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese made with chickpea pasta, broccoli, and strawberries & blueberries, In that one meal you’ve used colors brown, orangish-yellow, green, red and blue. The more the better.


4. Introduce your child to a food several times.


Studies show that children may need to be introduced to a new food up to 10 times before they try it. This may seem like a lot, but remember that children are persistent. You must be more persistent. Do not give up because your child rejected steamed broccoli. Instead, try serving them broccoli differently.  So steamed broccoli isn't your child's thing?  Maybe they'd like broccoli and cheese rice. No matter what, do not stop introducing your children to nutritious food. 


5. Respect that your child may not like every food.


Okay, this is big! Every person will not like every food. Sometimes, no matter how many times we try a food, we just don't like it. This also applies to children. While teaching your child to eat healthily, be careful to not forget that children are people and they have opinions. If you have tried several times to get your child to eat a certain food, and they still dislike it, it is okay to try again later. It is also okay to still cook that food for the rest of your family and place it on your child's plate, while giving them the option to not eat it.  


DO NOT make eating a traumatic experience. Parents rarely know how to provide proper discipline for children while not engaging in a dinner time battle. 


When creating a meal plan, consider everyone. Give everyone options. Don't plan a menu full of things that your child hates. If your child hates broccoli, it is okay to plan a meal with it, but make sure there are other good options on the plate. 

  • Offer your child dinner, just as you have planned it. If he refuses to eat it, do not argue. Never argue with a child, you are their parent, not playmate, behave as such. Instead, calmly tell your child "honey, mommy has worked very hard on this dinner and I made sure that everything was yummy. Please eat. If you do not eat, you will be hungry later because mommy is not making anything else."



  • Stick to your word. If you say that you will make nothing else, then don't.

  • Stay calm. Don't resort to yelling, belittling, complaining or comparing your child to their siblings. Remember that your child is probably just as unsatisfied and frustrated as you are.  Stay positive and firm. 

Getting your children to eat fruits and veggies is a full-on challenge, however, you can conquer it! Stay consistent, firm and kind. Godspeed!



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