Monday, December 19, 2011

Mama's thoughts about vegetables

Brussels Sprouts, Oranges, and Bean filled lasagna roll up

"When I see what your kids eat, I feel guilty."
"How can I help my family be healthier?"

These are small parts of actual conversations with friends.  It's true, my boys like fruits and vegetables, and their diet is heavy on them.  Monkey cheers for beans and begs for nuts.  He'll eat any fruit you offer him.  Crackers begged for broccoli at dinner the other night.  They even eat raw spinach.

It hasn't always been like this though.  I remember a period of time that we were putting ketchup on everything for Monkey - even green beans - just to get him to eat it.  Then there was the period of time that he was opposed to nearly every vegetable and it was tricky to get him to eat well.  Crackers has never had an aversion to food - other than olives.  He has always eaten whatever we will serve him.  

We learned after Monkey to change the way we were serving food.  We Crackers has had ketchup only a few times, and I rarely give him other "dips" for his food - he doesn't even think to ask for them unless Monkey has some.  We serve him what we are eating and expect that he will eat it.  Is it silly to expect a 2 year old to eat what his parents eat?  Not really.  He is able to eat it and it is good for him.  He can choose to eat it, or he can choose to be hungry.

Eat what is served, or be hungry.  That seems harsh.  Kids need food, right?  I've seen it so many times with kids in daycares where I have worked - a lot of families feed kids "what they will eat".  They believe they need to serve "kid friendly foods".  They let the children determine what the family's menu will be.  They expect children to take the lead in making healthy choices for themselves.  It's true, there is a time that kids have to start making choices about what they eat, but children don't know what it means to make healthy choices unless someone teaches them.  

So, how do you teach your kid to eat vegetables?
Serve vegetables at least 2 meals a day.

If you are in the habit of offering seconds at meals, insist that children at least taste veggies before they get more of something else.

If there is a food your child doesn't like, keep trying.  Eventually they may change their minds.

Try making it differently - add cheese, ketchup, or ranch; serve it frozen, raw, steamed, or baked;  use a different seasoning; put it in a favorite dish (noodles are great carriers for veggies).

Offer a variety.

Try something new to you.

Let kids help cook.

Change the name - Monkey doesn't like "chili", but he will eat "beans with meat".

Hide it - mash it, grind it, puree it - then put it in pasta sauce.

Grow a garden - let him plant, water, weed, and pick his veggies.

Talk it up - When serving foods, talk about how wonderful they taste.

Eat them yourself - you can't expect that your kids will try them if you won't.

Shop together, invite your child to help pick out fresh produce.

How about you?
What are your tricks to getting your child to eat well?
What are your children's favorite foods?
Do you have a great "child friendly" vegetable recipe?


  1. Great post. I'm lucky, my son will eat just about anything I put in front of him. He eats a lot of veggies and fruit, along with lean proteins. I let him choose (with some guidance) what he eats for breakfast and lunch. For dinner he gets what we eat. I am very thankful for my good eater.

  2. I was pretty picky growing up too, not because my parents didn't try - sometimes we just don't like certain foods.. but my kids will eat healthy regardless. I'm glad your son is a good eater!