Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekly Column: Eat Your Vegetables

I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to encouraging the consumption of vegetables – those bright, interestingly shaped food items your kids probably shun in favor of a chicken nugget.

Offer Early, Offer Often.
From babyhood when vegetables are first introduced, be persistent. Don’t force a spoonful of pureed greens into a gagging baby’s mouth, of course, but don’t give up. Try a certain vegetable dozens of times, in different ways, and your baby may become a fan. It may not be until the toddler years, but it still counts.

Stay On The Bandwagon.
Once your adventurous child decides to like broccoli, don’t assume that he or she will feel the same way 6 weeks later, after not having tasted it again. Plan your mealtime rotations so that your little one is offered vegetables daily. The more often veggies are on your child’s plate, the more they will assume they’re a natural, expected part of mealtime.

Don’t Be Too Picky.
We all have preferences, but as parents trying to teach good eating habits, we have to MODEL good eating habits. That means swallowing your peas, even though you’ve never liked them. Or remembering to not make a huge production out of your aversion to carrots. If you want your kids to at least try something, you should be able to do so as well.

Silly It Up.
Let your kids make some silly decisions about eating their vegetables. For instance, let them try eating frozen mixed veggies – they’re sweet, cold, and crunchy, and eating them frozen makes it seem like a treat. Or make baked sweet potato fries, tossed with cinnamon and brown sugar. Sweet foods are automatically preferred in my house so this one is usually a hit, and at least they’re getting a vegetable.

What are YOUR tips for encouraging veggies?


  1. This pretty much sounds like what happened in my family. We weren't force fed food but if you didn't eat what was on your plate then you didn't eat - and that was accepted by all of us. We don't all like every type of vegetable but if we still know that when we go home you get what you're given. I'm not a parent but I do feel that often children now are spoiled as parents don't want to put up with the fight so take the easy way out. It might not be easy to stick to your guns but if you give in now you're just going to be giving in for the rest of your life.

  2. Mmm...those baked sweet potato fries sound GOOD. How do you make them? I loved all your tips this week, but I have to tell you, I was happy when Katherine finally stopped eating lima beans. For awhile there, they were a staple: an every meal favorite that was somehow, sweetly, ALWAYS shared with mom. I choked them down for her sake, but...UGH!

    One of the ways we encourage vegetalbe eating at our house is to set bowls of veggies out as snacks while we're making dinner. The girls usually beg for food while we're cooking, so they'll happily munch on the veggies we offer them then. They think they're getting away with something big because they're eating right before dinner, but Chris and I never really mind if they ruin their appetites with vegetables!

  3. Let them (the veggies) be finger food: Lisbeth tends to eat more when it appears as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, little florets of broccoli/cauliflower that she can pick up.

    Another great column!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?