How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables

As a parent, the most difficult and uphill task is to get our kids to eat vegetables and their greens. We all reel under the stress of feeding a picky eater and secretly pray to God that our kid doesn't turn out to be one from our nightmare and eats like the small kid sitting on the next table in the restaurant, eating on his own … all the greens and rice … without mum's stressing all around … and even without the lure of watching something on our phone!!

We stress and try to feed our kids forcefully, or get upset, … and this rarely helps, only in turn makes them hate vegetables even more.

That made us wonder if we could smartly make them eat vegetable, or just get them to eat vegetables in other form, via sneaking or making smoothies or popsicles... sounds like fun!

Bingo...kids love to have fun ... so if we parents made vegetables fun enough to eat … they would eat them!! Sounds easy? … but don't start breathing just yet … this path is a difficult one.

Here are some tips that can be used to get your child to eat vegetables:

 

 

1. Understand your child 

Just like adults, all kids are different, and hence the preference for food is also different. I can say that because, I have a 4 year old picky eater. I've constantly struggled with this, and then one day I realized that she doesn't mind eating her veg, its just that she likes them raw! And that was an amazing discovery … because then it made life simple for me … I could give her a plate of plain rice, raw carrots, cucumber, chicken, peas ...all separately on a plate and she would relish it!

Sometimes its just simple … find your balance!

 

2. Make Food Fun

Kids love to play make believe, and they love games. Vegetables can be intimidating to your kids at first sight who is hoping to eat macaroni and cheese. So try making food fun for example they are hero and lacking energy to fight a villain and eating green vegetables will give them enough energy to defeat the villain.

Relating healthy food to fun things kids already loves and turning it into a game is a great way to get a few bites of green vegetables in.

 

3. Get Them Involved

Kids are more invested in a meal if they help with its preparation. Taking your kids with you for grocery shopping and letting them pick one or two to cook for dinner will make them far more excited to eat it later.

Letting them clean the vegetables, stirring the vegetables and set the tables gives them a sense of pride and make them more enthusiastic and cooperative at the time of meal.

 

4. Enforce The “One Bite Rule”

Research consistently shows that kids who have initially rejected a food must be exposed to it 8-10 times for the food to be accepted. Many parents have had success with “one-bite rule”, requiring the kid to eat at least one mouthful of the rejected food whenever it is served.

After enough exposures the food will be more familiar to the kid and usually they begin to rate it more favorably.

 

5. Don’t Force Them To Finish

One bite is different from finishing your plate. One of the biggest misconception among the parents is that if they force their kids to eat food they don’t like that will eventually change their behavior. However fighting and punishment create a negative meal experience, and the kids will learn to associate the food with the bad feelings and memories.

Negative food experience have the opposite of the desired effect and actually increase picky eating tendencies. Ask them to eat one bite and try not to start a fight.

 

6. Reward Good Behavior

On the other side of the coin, creating positive food experience may decrease picky eating tendencies. Research has shown that by rewarding a kid for trying “one-bite”, of rejected food by something makes it easier for them to try the food.

They are also more likely to rate the food more positively in the future.

 

7. Introduce new food slowly

Kids are new-food-phobic by nature. They won’t eat unless it is tasted by them before. Slowly introduce new food to them and don’t force it on them. You can also start little hero worship and tell them that their favorite athlete or actor eat this food to stay strong and healthy, that will get them hooked on pretty easy.

 

8. Understand Their Values

Kids don’t see the world as adults do, and as a result they have a very different values. They could care less about health and proteins. Most kids think they are invincible, so telling them food is healthy is unlikely to get you very far.

On the other hand most kids feel the need to grow faster and stronger, so telling them that the food can help to grow strong and tall will do a better job. So explaining that broccoli “helps you grow”, is more effective than “it’s healthy”, or “because I said so”.

 

9. Offer Diverse Food Colors

One thing as a parent you have working in your favor is that kids love colorful foods. You can expose them to more colors by adding more vegetables on their plates. While adults like their flavors mingled together, kids like theirs separated.

So you have better luck by making separate vegetables dishes instead of a big mono-color casserole.

 

10. Arrange Food In Patterns On The Plate

Another reason to cook different vegetables separately is that kids love their food is designed into a pattern on their plate. Adults like it when they have food all together in the center, but kids are different in this matter they love it when their food is in some pattern. For example you can shape it in smiley or a heart that always get kids riled up. This is another way to make food fun.

My daughter didn't like vegetables in her cheese sandwich, but when I made it like a minion by cutting the bread in a circle, used olives for eyes and little carrot for smiley, she just loved it and to my delight ate a few!

 

11. Use Additional Flavors

There’s nothing wrong with adding additional flavors to make vegetables more appealing to kids. For a picky child, the most important thing is that they get comfortable and familiar with the rejected food. If it means serving it along with something you know your kid loves than go ahead and do it.

You can add fruits to give it a little sweet taste, you can use spices to give it different flavor all-together. But you have to make sure to not use too much processed food with strange chemicals.

 

12. Be Persistent

As a parent this is one thing that they should learn by heart. Every kid needs a persistent parents for every aspect of life, therefore parents need to be persistent about this too.

 

13. Set An Example

We know that everything kid do is started by watching an example. Kids eat what they know, and they won’t ask for a special meal if they don’t know it is an option.

So if you want your kids to eat healthy food and vegetables then you yourself have to set an example for them to follow. If vegetables and healthy food is relegated as an afterthought in your household it will be tough to expect your kids to take a liking to them.

 

Finally, some children are more difficult than others, and will require more effort and patience. It’s important to realize, however, that the habits they develop at a young age will remain with them long into adulthood. For your sake and theirs, it is worth solving picky eating problems as soon as possible. Continue to set a good example, create fun, positive experiences around food, let them help in the kitchen, enforce the one bite rule and do anything else you can to keep exposing them, in a pleasant way, to the healthy foods they reject … and before you know it...your persistence will pay off!!

Happy trying and feeding!

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