Five Ways to Get your Child to Eat Their Veggies

Posted on Dec 13th 2012 by Jackie Vega

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As a nutrition and fitness professional, it is great to see that the advice I give to clients holds true when my role as a mother takes over. I know that if I want my clients to put their trust in me, I have to walk the talk. The same is true for parents. We need to be consistent with our efforts in getting our children to try (and like!) vegetables.  It will most likely take several attempts before our children will have a true like or dislike for a new food, and it will take even more time for our children to learn to visually recognize the food. Since the food is somewhat foreign to them, this recognition must happen before they will think about putting it near their mouth! So just how can you get your children to try new foods and eventually like them, without the frustration? Well, here are my top five ways that have proven to be successful for my family and others I have worked with: 1. I eat it! My kids see my husband and I eating vegetables.  It has taken approximately a year, but now I can happily say that both of our children are enjoying lettuces of all sorts because they “want to eat salad like mommy and daddy.” 2. Put a previously introduced food into an adult dish.  My kids love my glass ramekins and I truly believe that was why they both finally tried (and loved!) cucumbers! Even if I still need to cut the seeds out for my son... 3. Have a color-coded meal.  Create a family activity by asking your kids to choose a color. Then,  head to the supermarket and let them pick out healthy foods in that color family. 4. Make movie night a “raw” night.  Our favorite evening is movie night! Instead of the usual popcorn and soda,  I serve veggies, fruit, yogurt, hummus, cheese, chickpeas and shrimp cocktail. During these “raw” mealtimes, I always introduce something new, such as raw pole beans or colored bell peppers. My daughter now (somewhat) likes orange bell peppers and they both like raw pole beans.  I have movie night to thank for that! 5. Take them to the supermarket and let them choose (and help prepare) the meal.  I know it has been said many times over, but it truly works! Now, I cannot say that they will actually eat it (I typically have a backup meal on hand), but it’s fun for everyone and you may be pleasantly surprised when they actually try their chosen new food! So there you have it! Not science, just my personal experience (with a side order of professional advice).  Oh and one other thing – I personally feel it is not a good idea to force new foods on them, as  it could potentially lead to conflict.  Family dinners are to be relaxing and enjoyable! Have some proven tips of your own to share? Leave us a comment below. And visit our Healthy Eats pinboard for some kid-friendly recipes! Bon Appetite!  

Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul  

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Sooo True.thanks....i also think and have Seen with my Kids that if you eat and "Love" the Food yourself they will at least at One Point try it also. Also what i find super Important to not think they dont like certain veggies/Fruits at all...maybe they will a couple month/Weeks later...just Keep on introducing it again After a while. :)

Yes! That is why I have stated in previous articles/blogs/tweets that it takes several times before they get a "true" like or dislike. And then, as I have found with myself, as I got older, my taste buds changed once again, and I (of course!) have found myself trying more and more different foods. And I would have to give credit to my mother...she always urged us to at least "give it a try!" :) --Gotta luv Moms!!

When u prepare a meal, what go u suggest if ur child won't even try it? I think giving them something else allows them to be a picky eater. My 4-year old used to eat most veggies. Now he won't even try it. I was told let him go to bed without dinner. What r your thoughts?

Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. First, as a mother of two, one being “picky” (He is my 5yr old, and I call him a selective eater) and the other will pretty much eat anything or at least try everything (She is my 7yr old). I have never believed in the old adage of sending them to bed hungry. As a Registered Dietitian i have yet to see the clinical proof that it works either. Our children’s tastes will always change and the fact that your child is not eating what he used to is perfectly normal. It is frustrating, I know this personally, but it is normal. I always advise parents/caregivers that we need to be consistent in our offerings and always be sure to include those fruits and vegetables even when we feel they will just turn up a nose. When planning your meal try to include something you know he likes. For instance, what are his favorite vegetables and fruit at the moment. Place that favorite next to one that he hasn’t tried. Then place that combo on the meal plan a few days later. Eventually, this once “foreign” food will become familiar and he will try it. A colleague in the dietetics community, states in her book that if dinner is served early, you could always offer a glass of milk or some cheese and fruit upon your child asking for food after dinner. But be sure to make it clear to your son that he must not have filled up his tummy with the good food you prepared for dinner. Her book is fabulous! Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen. Keep calm about the whole situation. I know this is easier said than done, but when we, as parents put up a fight it will change the atmosphere of the dinner table scene. I write the meal plans for Super Healthy Kids and blog for them as well. We have a whole section on picky eaters. Definitely check it out and please check in back here to share what you have experienced!”

The first one is VERY important! People always say I'm lucky that my kids love fruits and veggies. I've always found the parents of picky eaters are often (but not always) picky eaters as well. If you want to get your kids eating healthy, you must eat healthy too!!

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