What to Do When Your Kid HATES Veggies: A Survival Guide
|March 10, 2015||Posted by Stacy under Healthy eating at home, Vegetables|
What’s that you say? Your little angel won’t eat his veggies? Oh, believe me, I know how you feel.
Starting around age 4, my oldest son (now 9) steadfastly refused all things vegetable. When placed on his plate, he would maneuver around them. How about a mouse bite? I’d ask. He’d shake his head and remind me, “I HATE VEGETABLES.”
I tried roasting and stir frying. I paired them with dips and sauces. I added them to pasta dishes and grilled cheese sandwiches. I served them up family style and held taste tests. I took him grocery shopping and cooked with him. I even started a backyard garden.
Nope, no way…not gonna do it. The kid was stubborn.
But don’t worry, it isn’t hopeless. Here’s what you do if your child refuses to eat veggies:
#1. Keep trying new ways.
Even if he won’t touch steamed or roasted broccoli, he just might devour Green Zombie Soup or broccomole and chips (like my wee veggie hater did!). Does he hate sauteed zucchini? Whip up a batch of Sweet Zucchini Pancakes or Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. Won’t touch kale with a 10-foot pole? Make BBQ kale chips.
#2. Serve more frequently.
At times, you may feel like giving up, but what you really need to do is increase his exposure. Serve up not one but two veggies with dinner, one at lunch–and even breakfast, too.
#3. Make it fun.
Cut veggies into fun shapes or give them silly names. Have Make Your Own Salad Night. Blend up a green smoothie and name it after the Grinch. Who could resist?
#4. Don’t force or bribe.
Here’s where you have to keep the big picture in mind. You want your kid to learn to like veggies–not eat them because you’re making him or just to get his dessert. (See Don’t Make These Food Mistakes.)
#5. Take the pressure off.
I have more luck getting my kids to try things when they aren’t at the dinner table. Try serving samples at snack time or while he’s watching TV, or simply offering him a taste of whatever you’re munching.
#6. Sneak them in.
While it may not help instill a love of vegetables, sneaking them into smoothies, pancakes and pasta dishes will help ensure that he’s getting important nutrients. And it’ll give you peace of mind so you (hopefully!) don’t pressure him to eat. Just be sure to keep serving them in their whole or visible form, preferably at every meal, so they become a familiar fixture.
#7. Insist on good manners.
If my kids are unhappy with what’s served to them, I give them two choices: Say, “Thank you, but I don’t care for X” or simply leave the unwanted food on their plate without making a fuss. Rude comments are NOT OK. Never insult the chef! Trust me: You’ll be really glad that you taught manners when you’re eating at a restaurant or a friend’s house.
#8. Focus on the positives.
Rather than label him a picky eater, celebrate the healthy foods that he does enjoy. My son may not be big on vegetables, but he’ll eat almost any kind of seafood. And he loves avocado! This is a photo of a lunch he ordered last summer (with just a little coaching). Way to go, champ!
#9. Be Patient!
Not all kids will like vegetables right away. Learning to like them can be a process–just like learning to read and using the potty. Kids have different tastes and don’t all learn at the same pace.
My son’s vegetable boycott went on for about four years. Then, one night last year, he said, “Mom, can we have pasta with bacon and broccoli?” I had to pinch myself: Had he really requested BROCCOLI? In the past year, he also began eating carrots (in soup and smoothies), red peppers (in chili) and tomatoes (in guacamole). And a couple weeks ago, he gobbled down Brussels sprouts.
So keep the faith! How many adults do you know who hated vegetables as a kid? How many refuse to eat them now? As long as you give your child plenty of time, opportunity and gentle encouragement, he’ll be enjoying them soon enough.
This post is part of a special March #LoveHealthy Veggie Campaign featuring fresh ideas, tips and recipes from the following bloggers:
- Don’t Panic Mom
- Real Mom Nutrition
- Produce for Kids
- Mom’s Kitchen Handbook
- Simple City Life
- The Hanging Spoon
- Real Kids Eat Spinach
- Teeny Tiny Foodie
- Laughing Lemon Pie
- Super Healthy Kids
- Teaspoon of Spice
- Raise Healthy Eaters
- Red, Round, or Green
- School Bites
All this month, we’ll be sharing inspiration and resources to help get your whole family eating and enjoying vegetables. Plus, we’ll be offering some amazing product giveaways. So don’t miss out! “Like” our #LoveHealthy Facebook page for your daily inspiration and chances to win. Follow our Veggie Love Pinterest Board, which is loaded with fun ideas and recipes.