3 Strategies to Encourage Your Kids To Eat More Vegetables … Once & For All

We all want our children to be healthy, and we know that this includes a healthy diet of foods that enable their growing bodies to be strong and function at their best. However, convincing a stubborn three year old of this is more difficult than it sounds. Often vegetables become the bad guys, and for good reason. When vegetables come in cans and frozen bags, kids are often alienated from their food.

FACT :: Vegetables don’t come from the grocery store, they come from the earth.

Here are some tips for helping your children develop positive and healthy relationships with their vegetables…

Teach them where vegetables really come from.

Respecting food is fundamental. Food is not just a commodity; it has cultural and social importance. Educate your children on the processes of food production. When kids have a fuller understanding of where their food comes from, they have more respect for it on their plate.

  • Pay homage to farmers. Farming is a challenging job. Take a trip to the local farmers market.
  • Go grocery shopping together. Talk to the produce clerk and ask questions about how the foods are grown.
  • Grow your own vegetables. Build a raised bed, have a patio tomato, or participate in a community garden.    

Teach them about meal planning and preparation.               

Give your children control. Allow them to pick the vegetable they will be eating with their dinner. Make your motto – eat like a rainbow.

  • Get your children involved in meal preparation.
  • Dip It. Try some wild things – peanut butter, hummus, applesauce, ranch dressing, etc.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut things out in fun shapes.
  • Season It. Roast it. Fry it. Bake it. Toss it. Sprinkle it. Mash it. Cube it. Do whatever it takes!
  • And as a last resort, you can always disguise it in other foods too.

Teach them the importance of family meals.

Family meal time is central — everyone eats together, and everyone eats the same thing.

As the adage goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. In our house, we follow a philosophy known as the “division of responsibility in feeding.” Just like other facets of the parent/child relationship, teaching your children to eat well is grounded in trust and respect. According to the division of responsibility, parents are responsible for what, when, and where {what food is served, when it is served, and where it is served}. The child is responsible for whether they eat and how much they eat. As parents, our job is to trust our children to determine how much and whether to eat what we provide. This can be difficult and time consuming, but when we do our job of feeding, our children do their jobs of eating.

Finally, some questions to ask yourself… What is your relationship with food? Are you always on the newest diet? What message are you sending to your kids about food? As with many things in parenting, our children imitate our example.

What are your strategies to get your kids to eat vegetables?  Share your advice in the comments!

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