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How Parents Can Help Kids Eat And Enjoy Vegetables

Parents may have to be sneaky when it comes to helping kids like veggies, but keep trying. You never know when your child may come around to liking vegetables.

child's face peeking through leaves

Photo: Jane Vlasova (flickr)

Gardening is just one way to give your child a sense of accomplishment when they see the veggies they planted in full bloom. You will create many family memories while working on your garden with your kids.

Teaching Kids To Like Veggies

As parents, we face many challenges with raising kids, and one of the greatest challenges is getting our kids to eat their veggies.

Vegetables provide so many vitamins and nutrients that are important for our children’s development. What I learned from my children’s pediatrician is that from infancy through the first few years of a child’s life, it is a crucial time to set the stage for healthy eating.

The early years are when you give your child a foundation for establishing a proper diet. If kids learn about the importance of eating healthy early in their lives, they will not have to relearn as an adult. And, we all know how hard it is to retrain a healthy diet as adults if that is not one that we are used to eating.

Tips And Tricks

Here are some suggestions for teaching your kids to eat – and love – vegetables:

  1. Set the example – Your kids are watching you for guidance. Healthy eating is no different. Let your kids see you eat your veggies on a regular basis. Don’t frown when you do eat your veggies. Your kids will pick up that veggies are just as enjoyable as any other food.
  2. Shop til you drop – Well, not exactly! But, let your kids go shopping with you when it is time to pick out family meals. Kids will probably enjoy going to visit the local farmers market or just having a say in what the menu will be for the family.
  3. Provide variety – Introduce veggies in a variety of meals. From veggie spaghetti to veggies as a simple side dish, let kids have a variety of vegetable experiences.
  4. Plant a garden – Gardens do not have to be huge. There are so many ways to have a successful garden even in an apartment. This is a way to give your child a sense of accomplishment when they see the veggies they planted in full bloom. You will create many family memories while working on your garden with your kids.
  5. Swap it out – Veggies can replace unhealthy foods in several dishes. Instead of French fries, try baked sweet potato fries. Instead of traditional dips for potato chips, use homemade salsa or hummus dip.
  6. House rules – As parents, it is up to us to set the house rules. Create a house rule that states you must at least try everything on your plate. There are some foods that your kids will just not like. We are all human in that way. But, we should not let our kids assume that they do not like something just because it is healthy. If they try it, they may realize that it is not so bad.
  7. Use the web – There are several great online resources to help parents out with this dilemma of getting kids to eat their veggies. I have found a few that may be worth trying out – KidsGardening, Team Nutrition from USDA, Real Food For Healthy Kids. There are also some great sites that have excellent recipes that include veggies and that kids will enjoy.

Continued Rejection?

If your child continues to reject their veggies, do not hesitate to continue to reintroduce them to veggies during family meals. You can provide veggie trays when their friends come over, prepare new recipes, or mix some veggies up in a fruit smoothie.

Sometimes as parents we have to be a little sneaky when it comes to helping out our kids. Taste buds are likely to change over time. You never know when your child may come around to liking vegetables.

I would love to hear your comments on what you have done to help your children eat more veggies. Let’s learn from each others’ experiences!

Nicole I. Henderson

Nicole I. Henderson is a wife and mother of three kids. The question that she gets asked everyday is ‘What's for dinner?’ She has realized that what we put into our bodies has an impact on our health and well being. Nicole is coaching parents on how to transition and maintain healthy eating habits for their kids from her own journey as a parent. Nicole is also the owner of Selsi Enterprises, a marketing communications and event planning company based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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  • Janet Nezon

    Excellent points and practical tips! If kids learn to love the beautiful colors and variety of veggies at the earliest age, you won’t end up needing to do much sneaking later! Also, keeping emotions out of it when kids try but don’t like something is key! I wrote recently about some ideas for kids to have fun with asparagus. Check it out

  • Nicole Henderson

    Janet, thanks for the comment! I will have to check out your article about asparagus. That is a tricky to work in when kids are young. Thanks for sharing!

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