How to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

If you’re like most parents, you probably find that getting your kids to eat their vegetables can be quite a challenge to say the least.  They see those little green trees sitting on their plate and instantly alert you that there is no way that veggie is making its way to their lips.  Uh uh.  No Way.  Not Happening. 

So what’s a mom or dad to do?  How do we get the healthy stuff into our kids without having to engage in a plant based wrestling match that usually ends with broccoli everywhere but in your child’s belly?  Having four kids, I can tell you from experience that it’s not always easy, but our family has a few techniques that we utilize on a regular basis to help our kids better appreciate and enjoy healthy eating.

Hide It. Yes, I realize this is a bit shady and underhanded, but honestly, it’s effective.  I’ve found it to work especially well for the really little set where rationalizing just won’t cut it.  Smoothies are our favorite way to “hide healthy”.  Toss a little yogurt or coconut cream into a blender along with your favorite type of milk.  Add a slew of fresh or frozen fruit to the mix and then, when no one’s looking, dump in a handful of spinach leaves and give it a whirl.  The sweet of the fruit will over power any idea of a veggie being in there and they’ll gobble it down.  I’ve even been known to sneak some carrot juice in there when no one’s looking on occasion.  Shhhh, don’t tell my kids.

Dip It.  For my older kids, offering up a dipping sauce can many times prove to be a winning solution.  Ketchup makes everything better in this house.  If that’s not the winning combo for your kids, try ranch dressing or even a light sprinkle of cheese.  It’s worth the extra effort if you can get that healthy green goodness to make its way into your child’s diet.

Incentivize It.  This technique may not be for everyone, but it’s worked for us.  We have a rule in our house that you need to try one bite of everything.  You don’t have to finish your food, you just have to try it.  However, if you do manage to finish your meal, a small dessert awaits you at the end of the trail.  Be it a cookie, a piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream.  If you finish your meal, the treasure is yours.  You’d be amazed at the foods my kids will try and eat just to grab a popsicle at the end of the meal.

Repeat It.  Finally, just be patient and don’t give up.  You may not have success your first few attempts, but if your kids know those veggies aren’t going away, they will eventually catch on and give them a go.  Most important of all, do not make them an alternate meal simply because they don’t like the food you’re serving.  Kids are smart little buggers and if they think they can get the food they like because mommy or daddy doesn’t stick to their guns when it comes time to eat dinner, trust me they’ll do it.  I promise a child will not starve to death if they refuse to eat what you’re serving for dinner.  Stay strong and I promise that your efforts will pay off in the end. 

Getting kids to eat their veggies is never an easy task, but with a little effort, a bit of will power and a whole lot of patience, you’ll find that the work is truly worth the reward.

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food
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(price as of Aug 3, 2014)
This book has some additional creative ways to utilize the "hide it" concept of getting veggies into your little ones. Check it out if you're searching for further tips and recipes!