How do I get my kids to eat veggies?

By Brooke Strickland

We all know the importance of regularly eating and incorporating vegetables into our diet, but getting our kids to eat them is sometimes impossible.  It’s convenient to grab a hot dog or hamburger at the nearest drive thru window and forget totally about the importance of having our kids fill up on veggies instead of junk.  Parents all over the world struggle with getting their children to try veggies, let alone keep them coming back for more.  In fact, according to a recent Ohio State University study, only 22% of kids, ages 2 to 5 meet government recommendation for vegetable consumption while only 16% of kids ages 6 to 11 meet the recommendation. [1] So, how do you get your kids to eat them?  We don’t have any magic answers on how to get your kids to love vegetables, but we do have some tips on how to get them in their belly.

  1. Start out with an appetizer. If your kids are hungry, they’ll eat. Try serving a veggie appetizer of carrots, red peppers, or cucumbers with a side of hummus, low fat ranch, or bean dip.   Then they’ll get the veggies in first thing.

  2. Give them the choice.  Giving your kids ownership in the shopping process can be key to getting them interested in eating the veggies. If they get to pick out the types of veggies they want, then they’ll likely want to eat them when they get home. 

  3. Let them cook.  If your kids know that they helped cook the veggies, they’ll want to try them so they can taste and even show off their work. 

  4. Hide ‘em.  We know that this is probably the first thing parents do when they have kids that won’t eat veggies.  Try incorporating veggies into cheese quesadillas or put them in casseroles or stirfrys.

  5. Blenders are your friend.  You don’t always have to force your kids to eat veggies whole – instead, have them help you cut up fruits and veggies and put them into a blender and make a delicious, fresh-made smoothie.  Have your kids come up with a fun name for their smoothie and put it in a special cup to make it cooler.  

  6. Reward systems.  This is an easy solution for a lot of families.  It’s pretty simple: don’t let your child have dessert, TV time, or another reward until he/she has finished the vegetables on their plate.  Motivation in this way is effective for many kids and if they know that when they finish their veggies, they will be able to have one of their favorite desserts or watch a favorite show on TV, they’ll likely be more apt to eat up.

[1] Cohen, Elizabeth.  “Ten ways to get kids to eat their vegetables.” CNN.Com. June 2, 2011.