How to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

One of the most common conversations I have with parents is around food, and how to get their kids to eat a wider variety of things.

Now that I have a 3 year old, I get how challenging this can be, especially since my son has strong opinions about, well, everything. (I wonder where he gets that from…)

If your child is like most kids, fruit is a non-issue – my son would eat cherries and bananas all day every day if I let him. And although he’ll try a taste of most things, he isn’t diving into piles of kale or gobbling beets like I wish he would.

When I became a parent, one thing that was important to me from the start was making sure food wasn’t a fight in our home. In fact, although I hadn’t heard of her, I adopted Ellyn Satter’s approach of me deciding what we would eat, and letting my son decide whether he would eat it or not.

That said, I do understand that this can be a challenging topic, which is why I want to share the strategies I use to make sure the whole family is eating a plant-filled diet.

Here’s what I do to help my son – and me – make better choices at meal times:

1. I always offer two vegetables, so that even if my son chooses to pass on the arugula salad, he can still munch on steamed carrots. In fact, there have been many nights when he’s gobbled these up before anything else on his plate, so most of the time I know he’ll at least go for that. And let’s be honest – if all I was eating was steamed carrots and broccoli, I’d be bored out of my mind, so this is a way to make sure that I get to eat what I love, too.

2. I keep offering vegetables even if I know he doesn’t like them. At the table, I’ll say something like, ‘you can try the Brussels sprouts again if you want. Sometimes our tastes change, and believe it or not you used to love them when you were a baby.’ (True story!) The trick here is to make sure you aren’t forcing your kids –let them decide if they want to try again or not. And if they still don’t like it, no big deal – they can always come back to them in a few months.

3. I offer vegetables at every snack, whether it’s a pack of seaweed, sliced cucumber, or spinach hummus with crackers – my son’s current favorite. This way we have multiple opportunities during the day to get our servings of vegetables, rather than trying to do it all in one meal.

4. I sneak vegetables into my spaghetti sauce, taco meat and even into fried rice. I chop it finely or grate it, and add about a cup of fresh veggies to a pound of ground meat. For the fried rice, I add a cup of finely chopped, or riced, cauliflower to each cup of cooked rice, sauté it until it’s cooked, then add a couple of scrambled eggs and a few TB of soy sauce. This packs our meals with nutrients, but it’s never a fight to get my son to eat any of these.

Since I’ve only been parenting for a few years, I’d love to hear YOUR strategies for getting your kids to eat more vegetables. There’s so much pressure to be ‘perfect parents’, so let’s share our best tips for getting our kids (and us!) to eat healthier.

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