Wouldn’t it be awesome if your kids requested veggies as much as they did pizza and pop tarts? When my kids were little I was tired of meal time battles (and chicken nuggets) so I made it my mission to get my kids to eat healthier.
But I didn’t want my kids to make better food choices because I forced them to, I wanted them to actually like the fruits and vegetables I served at mealtime so that when they were older (and not eating every meal with me) they would continue to make smart, healthy choices.
Here’s how I expanded my children’s palate and encouraged them to eat more vegetables.
Limit sweets and processed foods when they are young.
Most children (and I know there are exceptions) will prefer a cookie over cauliflower. You can still give your children choices, but give them two healthy choices instead. I am always amazed at the two year olds who will eat anything from salad to okra, but it is usually because they have been introduced to a large variety of vegetables and fruits as babies.
Involve your children in the kitchen.
My children are always more likely to eat something they made no matter what it is. Kids like to take ownership of things and the kitchen is a great place to start. If they are old enough, they can be involved in the menu planning process, from choosing what’s for dinner, to preparing it. Younger children can help by washing fruits and vegetables, cutting softer vegetables with a butter knife, and arranging them on a plate.
Don’t be afraid of ranch dressing and cheese.
For a long time I didn’t like my kids to dip their veggies in ranch or melt cheese on their potatoes, but then I realized that if it was helping them to eat more vegetables what was the harm? You can make your own (healthier) version of ranch dressing and kids need the protein in cheese so this can be a great way to help get kids to try new vegetables.
Pay your kids to eat vegetables.
I realize this is a bit unconventional, but I tried it a few years ago when all my kids went through an exceptionally picky stage. It worked. I made a chart, had a list of vegetables I wanted them to eat, and paid them a quarter each time they ate a small helping. Little kids (especially those who think a quarter is a lot of money) are very excited to earn money by eating. What happened when I tried this was that many of my children realized that they actually liked certain vegetables that they had been unwilling to try in the past.
Sneak them into their food.
This is my least favorite option, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Smoothies are my favorite way to add extra vegetables to my kids’ diet, but you can also incorporate cooked and pureed vegetables to soups, sauces, and even pizza crust!
If you still need help, check out my ebook The Happy Housewife’s Guide to Dealing with Picky Eaters, it’s only $1.49 on Amazon.
Next week 5 Simple Ways to be On Time with Kids.
melissa stover says
sounds like it’s too late for me.
I LOVE the comment “don’t be afraid of Ranch Dressing and cheese” That’s ALWAYS been my theory ” .It might be coated in something, but at least they’re eating it!” When my son was little, he couldn’t keep formula down and Dr. switched him to whole cows milk. My son HATED it and the Dr told me squirt some chocolate or strawberry syrup in it. I was concerned about the sugars, but the Dr. said in moderation it won’t hurt and if that’s the only way to get him to take it, it’s better than him not getting it at all. So I’ve kinda ran with that. Dips for veggies, cheese, etc don’t matter, all in moderation (and the healthiest options as possible) because at least they are getting the veggie!
Many times I will set out raw veggies and dip just BEFORE dinner. Of course, the kids are “famished” and dig in because they are hungry and this is the only choice offered at the moment. I really don’t care if they fill up on raw vegetables before dinner — what could be better? They always seem to eat their dinner anyway.
When my daughter was a toddler she would eat anything that was dipped in plain yogurt. It was great – a low sugar source of calcium and she ate any vegetable we put in front of her. Now she tells me that she doean’t like to dip food and never has and just eats all the veggies raw and plain – no complaints from me. If only her brothers would catch on…..
Great, great tips- It is definitely easier to get your kids to eat right if you start them off right!! I am really trying with my boys- They are pretty good with veggies (they adore guacamole which I thought was so weird =)
Thanks for posting!!
Angie @ Many Little Blessings says
When we started to really try to get our boys to try more foods, after their oral sensitivities lessened, we went the paying route too. We only did a dime (even though it was while they were mid elementary age), and it still was enough to get them to try things. Eventually, they were more willing to try things and we just stopped giving them anything for it. Worked wonderfully!
Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says
I hide stuff in their food all the time….but the paying? I am still laughing that you did that. 🙂
Having my son help in the garden was great. He would eat anything that he helped grow.
I personally LOVE Deceptively Delicious and see nothing wrong with adding extra veggies to a meal! But I do tell me kids, especially after the tell me they love a particular dish, exactly what is in it. So there’s no deception here!
A friend once told us that growing up his mother would sprinkle Nestle Quick on anything the kids didn’t like, and say “now you do!” He said that now as adults they eat broccoli without the powder.