How to Convince Kids to Eat Veggies?

Updated on August 21, 2019
A.T. asks from Woodside, NY
19 answers

What kind of veggies your children hate the most? What are they?

What do you do to make your children eat more vegetables?

Any tips would be appreciated.

Thank you!

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

I would not "force" or "make" them eat veggies. When you do that you are creating a food war and it is not one you want to deal with.

I am 57 and I remember my mom holding my mouth forcing me to eat veggies, throwing up in my plate and being punished. My relationship with my mother is not good to this day...

There are still many veggies I simply cannot eat.

I had my daughter "taste" what I prepared but I NEVER forced any food. Her favorites are artichokes, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes broccoli. She dislikes pretty much everything I dislike because I never prepared what I disliked.. squash, etc. I guess that is on me as my fault but I swore I would never ever be like my mother. I am quite opposite!

I like juice and we drink fresh juices that are made to order and delivered to my house. They have all kinds of veggies and I can't taste the ones I hate because the juices are blended. This is a company in my area and not nationwide but I love them. They are called squeezed online and are delivered in my area.

Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful
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N.K.

answers from Miami on

It depends on the age of the kids, as well as their open-mindedness to foods. Sometimes, using a specific sauce or dressing is enough to get a kid to eat a veggie, like ranch dressing, if a kid loves ranch dressing, it might get them to try a veggie they otherwise would never have eaten. My kid didn't like vegetables much when she was younger, now that she is a teen, she eats everything I can think of, as long as it is well-seasoned and flavorful. She will refuse bland, steamed Brussels sprouts, for example, but if you put some garlic salt and butter or you bake them with salt and pepper, she will chow them down, despite these vegetables being one of the most commonly hated by kids and adults alike.

4 moms found this helpful

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E.B.

answers from Denver on

Number one rule in my book: don't disguise vegetables and call them "pancakes" or "cookies" or "muffins". Of course, it's fine to make black bean brownies (I know, they're not a vegetable but you get the idea), or zucchini cookies or sweet potato pancakes, but not as a trick to get children to eat vegetables.

Take a child to a grocery store, and wander around the produce section. Let the child choose some things, like carrots, peas in the pod, mini bell peppers, grape tomatoes, etc. Choose child-sized foods. Involve the child in preparing the vegetables. Even a toddler can wash fruits and vegetables, or put the vegetables in the salad bowl. Get a kid's cookbook (age-appropriate) and cook together. Keep the vegetables recognizable, not secretly hidden in trick foods.

Set a good example. If your only fruit is an olive in a martini, your child will not learn to eat vegetables or healthy foods. Serve small portions (child-sized) of healthy real foods, and cook and eat together.

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A.L.

answers from Atlanta on

As Diane B and B said, your question reads like someone doing a survey or collecting information for a blog, and that's not how this site works. It also isn't a method which will get you useful data for survey research, and you should know that if you are doing research. That said, in case a parent in search of assistance in this matter does read the answers, I'll share one thing. I've found that oven roasting makes pretty much any vegetable popular with my teens. Roots, okra, green beans, those are particularly popular. We chop or slice them into bite-sized pieces, spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle on several tablespoons of olive oil, mix to distribute the oil, sprinkle on sea salt and some spices (cumin, chili powder/chipotle powder are my go-to ones, fresh rosemary is great with potatoes), mix to distribute seasonings, put in a preheated 350 degree oven and stir once every 15 minutes or so. Green beans will be done in about 15 to 20 minutes, root crops (turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets) take about half an hour to 45 minutes. They get eaten pretty fast, great for breakfast or to accompany a meal.

7 moms found this helpful
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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I have yet to meet a kid who won't eat a carrot stick if ravenous before dinner. I offer them to every kid who comes over here and they eat them. If a kid is hungry enough, they'll eat veggies. Just offer them while they're waiting for the meal if you need to get them in. Salads are often served before the first course. Figure out how they best like them prepared - nothing wrong with being creative. My mom used to let us have celery boats (with pb). Whatever - make them yummy. Baked potatoes (jackets) with toppings of your choice was a popular dinner at our house growing up. That sort of thing.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

It depends a lot on how old your kids are. Mine are 10 & 13, and we usually require a certain number of bites or spoonfuls or something. But our boys don't really complain too much anymore. We've introduced them to a variety of veggies, and they have their favorites. Still, we sometimes serve veggies they don't care for, but they know they need to have 3 bites (or similar).

When they were little (like 2 or 3), I just put it on their plate just like it was on my plate. If they didn't eat it, I didn't make a big deal about it. I might ask them to try it or take a bite, but I didn't push it too much. When they were a little older I would sometimes only put veggies on their plate (not too many) and let them know that once they ate it they could have some chicken (or whatever I made). That really seemed to help.

You don't want to make food a battleground, but requiring a couple bites shouldn't be asking too much.

5 moms found this helpful

C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I just serve veggies with every lunch and dinner. The rule is you have to take a bite. My kids are now 9 and 13 and the 13 year old is the picky eater. The 9 year old likes pretty much every veggie. I cook them how I like them. They both eat green beans, asparagus, brocolli, cauliflower, peas, carrots, corn. My younger one eats other veggies I cook and enjoys them but my older one just takes a bite. She will eat zucchini, sauteed mushrooms, shishito peppers, kale, brussel sprouts, veggie stir fry, salad, you name it. My picky eater did not eat as much as he does now when he was younger but we had the rule to take a bite. I'd give him a teeny portion on his plate bc I knew he hated it. When he was really young he went through a phase where he would run away from the table and hide. I decided then to just not make a big deal out of anything at the dinner table and just keep things stress free. He wanted to eat more as he got older bc he didn't want to be so picky and different from his friends. We always talked about how your taste buds change and it's good to try it every time. He has issues with texture....his least favorite are mushy veggies such as when you saute zucchini with onions. He is still picky, but not as bad. His younger sister was born wanting to try everything...I never did anything to make her the way she is. He was gagging at most foods when he was an infant...he was born the way he is. I believe as a mom you just serve veggies every day and let your kids watch you enjoy them or help you cook them and don't stress them out about it. (Note - sometimes kids just want to be done with dinner. If I know they kind of like it but are not eating much, I will say, ok, 3 more bites, or ok, just finish your brocolli now. But if it's something they HATE I just do the one bite rule)

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

my older son hated ALL veggies (except, occasionally, green beans) to the point that he'd throw them back up if we pushed him. which we did sometimes. MP wasn't around back then. he still hates them today, at 33.

my younger hated most veggies growing up, but loves them now. his soon-to-be wife is a vegetarian and they're both foodies.

i have no suggestions for how to 'make' children eat more vegetables. forcing it results in kids throwing up, as mine did when he was teaching us how to parent more effectively. some end up with eating disorders. creating food battles is simply ineffective and even harmful parenting.

one thing i did that worked was to buy (and grow) lots and lots of fresh veggies when they're in season, steam them soft and puree them. then put the puree into ice cube trays, freeze them, and pop them into freezer bags. then you can sneak them into all manner of things. they hold the fresh flavor and nutrients for a good while in the freezer.

beyond that, bite your tongue, offer vegetables, eat vegetables, make vegetables part of your family's daily meals, but don't let yourself fall into the role of food police.

khairete
S.

5 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

While we're happy to answer parenting questions we don't do surveys or participate with data mining or marketing questions.

How old are your kid(s) and what have you tried so far?
In order to get some information from people you need to share some about yourself.

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia Magelarsen!

How old are your children?
Do you allow them to be "picky" eaters?
Do they have any type of allergy or are they on the spectrum?

My kids don't hate veggies. Sorry. They grew up having to take a taste. If they didn't like it after they tasted it? Fine. At least they tried it.

My kids love steamed artichokes...asparagus....broccoli....etc.

I don't think they are "fond" of tomatoes. They will eat them in a salad but they don't reach for them in a veggie platter. And tomatoes are a "fruit"!! LOL!!

Any way - I don't "MAKE" them eat the veggies. I tell them they have got to TRY them first. My youngest loves cheese and a side of mayo with his steamed broccoli.

I made a lot of casseroles too with veggies so they got them there too...

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H.M.

answers from Dallas on

I never force my kids to eat stuff they don't like. I was made to eat things that I could not stand and at 42 I still have resentment about it. They will eat more vegetables that I will. There are times that if I am serving something that I really want them to try I ask them to have one bite of it and if it just is absolutely disgusting to them they are free to spit it out. I don't make food a fight. My youngest will eat raw veggie's all day if they are made available to him. They both like cooked peas, carrots, green bean, corn and broccoli. My youngest sometimes when broccoli is a option as a side he's gotten it instead of fries. But he's my child that will order a huge salad at times instead of a burger. I think this is because I have let him make his food choices. Yes I give him options of what he can choose but it's his choice. My youngest is an athlete and can eat anything and not gain an oz. So if he wants to eat junk one day I let him. If he dosn't want to eat what we cook we make sure there of chicken patties and fruit and veggies that he can eat.
So if there is only one vegetable that your kid will eat just get a can or steamer bag of that for them and if not all is eaten use it for another meal for them. Again DON"T make food a fight.

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R.P.

answers from Tampa on

Not sure how old your kids are but I think one of the 1st foods for babies are veggies ( and fruit) Avocado, boiled carrots and potatoes etc.

As they get older they see you eat it daily and pretty much copy the behavior. This is something you can not force kids to do but I think they see it and develop positive image. So the earlier you introduce and the more you guys eat it-the higher the chances they will eat it as well.

* I boil cauliflower and kids love to dip it into sour cream or ranch
* boil asparagus and toss it with pine nuts after on a pan with teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with parmigiana cheese.
*Broccoli lightly boiled, sprinkled with olive oil, spices and bake it for 15 min ( can be done in the pan as well) and I do the same with Brussels sprouts but they are cut in 1/2.
* zucchini, portobello mushroom caps on a grill

My kids are yet to love peppers and eggplant. Lol

What also worked for us also was to grow veggies from seeds. Hubby fenced off a large area in the back yard ( we had deers otherwise eat everything) and from seeds my kids would watch veggies grow. Involving in daily “checking up” and later picking cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers and summer squash I think paid off. And if you don’t want to do that.. just get few plants from Home Depot.

Lots of luck!

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燕.张.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Magelarsen,
What I did to my daughter when she was three before she was a big fan of vegetables was I told stories of benefits of vegetables. Now she is thirteen and loves vegetables.
张燕怡

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R.M.

answers from Albany on

I think it's a matter of training the child's palate. If baby is given goldfish, animal crackers, sweetened yoghurt and other sweet foods including fruit, he or she will develop a stronger taste for sweet foods. Naturally they are already drawn to sweet foods...mother's milk is sweet.
So the thing to do is at all meals offer foods that are not sweet and keep the sweet foods to a minimum. No sugar whatsoever...even for toddlers except on a very rare occasion.

Things that have worked with my wee ones are setting an example. We eat the same foods and show we are enjoying them. If there are other children eating those foods, even better.
Words are powerful. My 18 month old's favourite food was broccoli. I called it trees...and he loved that he was eating a tree. Contrary to the baby cookbooks, I put my homemade garlic salad dressing on it and he gobbled up the broccoli. When they could manage raw veggies, we put out a 'dip dip'. Just the words make them want to dip their veggie into what was mayonnaise. We talk about how rabbits/bunnies love lettuce as we chew on a bare leaf and they cautiously follow suit.
Then there is presentation. You can put a variety of tiny amounts of colourful veggies into a small ice tray. And how about making carrots on a plate into a sun ray pattern around a hard boiled egg half? A face design could be made on a plate or the highchair tray.

Then there is trickery! When my 2 daughters were 2 and 5, they refused to eat homemade minestrone which was chock full of nutritious vegetables and homemade broth. One day I decided to serve 'sit on the floor soup'. I ground up the minestrone in the blender, not quite to a purée and made sure it was salted enough (palatable) and we sat on the floor as I fed them each, a spoonful at a time. They were so excited and they LOVED it! After doing this a few times, we graduated to the table. From then on they always loved minestrone.
My friend started off each dinner period while she was cooking the meal with a veggie platter with a variety of veggies and dip and her kids...and mine when visiting, gobbled up the equivalent of a serving or two. If they are too young to crunch through raw veggies easily, they can be blanched for a minute or less depending on the hardness and size.
And keep things light with no forcing.

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M.P.

answers from Boston on

I agree with '2kidmama'. Also find a way to incorporate veggies into other foods, such as, if you are making spaghetti, blend or finely chop the veggies and add to your sauce. I have a spouse who is 60+ years old and doesn't like veggies, but when I cook a eggs similar to a fritta, I chop up veggies I have in the freezer (green beans, spinach, carrots, maybe even leftover from previous night). I add to the beaten eggs in the skillet, sprinkle cheese and bake at 400 to 425 until the cheese is a light brown.

When cool enough to eat, cut into slices and eat away. I never explain what's there until he says, "That was good. Thanks".

Also Jerry Seinfield's wife wrote a book years ago regarding her children and how she got them to eat veggies. See if you can find it.

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

Offer a variety of veggies prepared in a variety of ways.
When my kid was young, she hated cooked carrots but loved them raw.
She loved mustard greens and spinach, but hated collards, turnip greens, and kale.
She loved okra fried, stewed, or pickled.
She like eggplant in musaka and parm, but not ratatouille.

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*.*.

answers from New London on

Hi---

How old is your child? A young toddler should not be served foods with junk and lots of sugar.

I have also learned that many kids either like fruits or veggies. I, myself, never really liked fruit. The nutritional value is kind interchangeable,

I serve 1 meal. I put ground cauliflower in mashed potatoes--Always have and only I know.
I add veggies to tomato sauce and soup.

When I make smoothies in the blender (Fruit ones), I add a some beets, sweet potatoes and / or carrots because they are sweet! I just add a tiny bit and blend!

I bake sweet potatoes and put honey and cinnamon atop afterwards. I make sweet potato fries and bake them.

I add just a Tablespoon of beets to tomato sauce,

I never make a second lunch or dinner. If they don't want it, they walk away.

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A.B.

answers from New York on

Just let your kids watch you eat veggies often, and don't make a big deal out of it. Let them eat them while you are eating yours. Also, don't say remarks like, "Wow! You ate broccoli today!"

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