How I persuade my kids to eat vegetables

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Eat your greens!

I'm a lucky mum: my kids are great eaters! They eat veg and fruit with every meal, and snacks usually comprise of apples, grapes and (for my youngest) olives. But it hasn't always been this way...

My son (now ten) was a very fussy eater. At one time, he would only eat bland foods, chips and pizza. No sauces, and virtually no greens. Trying to persuade him to eat vegetables made mealtimes hell.

Slowly but surely, my husband and I managed to help him change his ways. It was no quick or easy task, I assure you. But eventually it worked! Here's a few of the things we did:

  • Eat as a family: if you and the kids all eat the same meals together, they'll be encouraged to try the same foods as you.
  • Encourage the kids to try new foods, but don't try to force feed them or it will make things worse. Eventually, you'll learn which vegetables are considered "edible", so work with it! If your child decides they like peas, try mixing them with corn next time.
  • Hide vegetables in sauces they enjoy. My son liked tomato sauce on pasta, so sometimes I'd puree carrots and mix this in with the sauce. The strength of the tomato made it barely noticable.
  • Always have healthy snacks within easy reach. Apples, carrot sticks, cucumber and the like make great snacks between meals, which can come in very handy when the kids arrive home from school claiming they're starving! If these are readily available (and sweets/crisps are not), this could well be a way to persuade them!

When we visit our family in Tunisia, I notoce a vastly different approach to mealtimes from what we are used to. Tunisian families always eat together, and rather than have a plate each, food is served in larger "communal" dishes which the family all share. My nephews and nieces eat virtually everything put before them, even really spicy foods and salads: they learnt from quite an early age that if they don't eat what's on the table, their older brothers and sisters will! This isn't an approach we've adopted at home, but it's an interesting method!

For some great meal ideas for kids, visit Kelly's Kids Dish blog. Kelly has also created a weekly feature called As easy as abc Monday" in which she shares healthy and child friendly recipies for food groups from each letter of the alphabet (A is for apple, B is for broccoli, etc...). There's some tasty treats in store on her excellent blog!

I'd also love to hear about any other veg-success stories (or otherwise!) from other mums. Please leave your comments and stories below.

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