Raising kids who eat vegetables is not an easy task, and like many things, it looks easier to do than it actually is. I often get asked how I get my kids to eat vegetables so often without complaining. Now, I will always be honest with you – my kids do eat a fair amount of veggies, but it’s not all without complaint. They are 2 and 4 after all, so complaining about everything comes with the territory most days. But I do get them to eat a few servings every day, which is probably the most that I can hope for right now. And that’s ok. So do you want to know the secret to raising kids who eat vegetables?
It’s not really a secret after all, it’s how we change any habits regardless of age. Consistency.
Consistently serving veggies to your kids with every meal will get them used to them; and before you know it, they’ll be eating them regularly. But if you don’t try to serve them vegetables because you don’t want a fight, then you won’t be getting anywhere with their eating habits. It takes children 10-12 tries, on average, to begin accepting a new food. That means that you have to commit to this.
Just because this principle is simple, doesn’t mean it will be easy. But you are much stronger than you know, mama. You have what it takes to change their habits. It will happen.
A huge part of parenting is learning to choose your battles. But let me tell you this – the healthy food battle is worth fighting.
Diabetes in children is rising. Childhood obesity is something that was rare 20 years ago. Our kids are being medicated just to sit through class. We are setting our kids up to live a shorter, sicker lifespan than us because we aren’t nourishing their bodies with real foods. Their habits are developing right now. Convenience is killing our kids.
Raising Kids who Eat Vegetables
First, cut down on the sugar. This is hard because they get addicted to it just like we do, but it’s terrible for their growing bodies. If your goal is raising kids who eat vegetables, they’ll never like the natural flavor of them if their taste buds are used to eating sweets.
Then, start with bites of veggies. At first, one bite and they can be done. Follow this rule for a couple of weeks until they’re used to taking one bite, and then change it to three bites and they can be done. Work your way up slowly until they begin to accept it as normal.
You can also add in hidden veggies in meats, sauces, and baked goods, but make sure hidden veggies aren’t their primary source. They need to get used to the idea of eating vegetables if you want this to become a habit they can carry into adulthood.
Committing to this won’t be pretty, but it will work. Sometimes, commitment will look like watching your kids throwing a fit at dinner; and sometimes it will look like them going to bed without eating because they refuse. Some days you will want to throw in the towel because you’re tired of fighting. Then one day, they will try their veggies without an argument. And you’ll be so happy that you decided to fight for their health.
I have much more information about how to cultivate healthier habits that I have included in my new book!
You can read more about my book here.
Have you been successful in getting your kids to eat vegetables as part of their daily diet?
I also find introducing them to a variety of food early is key to having not picky eaters. My husband for some reason hates veggies and most fruits. My children? They eat everything I put in front of them and if they don’t love it (I do have one picky eater but surprisingly- she’s the pickiest about desserts!), they give it a try and eat at least a couple bites. Oh and everything is better with ranch apparently ????
So true! Early introduction can eliminate a lot of headaches, but many people don’t have that option if their kids are older. Your kids are right though, ranch makes everything better! haha
Nike Anderson says
Great advice! I can vouch for limiting sugar and being consistent! A child will need to be introduced to a new food several times before giving it a try. In our home, we called veggies a “snack”…which actually worked! My kids don’t love every vegetable, but they will eat their favorites like no tomorrow. ????
Thanks Nike! Calling veggies a “snack” is a great way to let them know that they aren’t any different than any other food!
Introducing those foods early, and offering them consistently really saves a lot of headache! My 2 year old absolutely loves veggies, tomatoes and carrots are one of his favorite snacks! Thanks for these awesome tips! <3
So true, offering them early definitely makes it easier!
Yes consistency is everything. I’ve always served vegetables as part of my kids’ meals and encouraged them to eat it all. If they didn’t like a certain vegetable I’d give them one piece to start with and then over the weeks gradually add more pieces. I also agree that we shouldn’t rely on hidden vegetables…kids need to get familiar with the look and taste of vegetables.
Thank you Sally! Kids adapt much easier to gradual changes 🙂
Teaching children to eat green vegetables is very difficult. Thanks your article. Awesome