10 Honest Insights: How Do You Make Your Kids Eat Vegetables They Don’t Like?
Most parents know the pain involved in getting a child to eat anything green or that grows in the ground. The vegetable has long been posed as an enemy of childhood, but it doesn’t have to be.
There are plenty of innovative tricks to excite your child about vegetables or at least reduce their contempt for them. A struggling parent took to an online community to ask fellow parents how they got their kids to eat veggies, producing some valuable answers.
Table of Contents
1. Don’t Use Force
One mom brought up a valid point, why should you make them eat vegetables they don’t like if you won’t eat foods you don’t like? Many agreed that it’s best to find alternative ways to present vegetables and make them more appealing than it is to use force.
A few parents recommended gently suggesting that your child try more veggies but that you shouldn’t be more forceful than that. It will only reinforce the idea that vegetables are unpleasant and gross.
Another says they don’t eat vegetables because their parents forced them to eat them as a kid against their will. So, in all likelihood, your child doesn’t hate vegetables. However, you have yet to find out which ones they like or how you should prepare them.
2. Introduce Them Early
A parent recommended trial by fire: introduce them as soon as they’re six months old, feeding them veggies multiple times daily to get their taste buds acclimated.
That strategy may work for a while, but another parent warned that once the child realizes they have agency and decides to express it, they will refuse to eat foods their friends dislike.
Another parent speaking from personal experience with her kids suggested building familiarity with different veggies by offering a portion of the same veggies they would eat. They noted that they always kept their word when they insisted they only had to take one bite.
It keeps them open to experience and allows them to stop if they don’t like them without leading to blanket avoidance of veggies. Instead, this person insists that their kids now express genuine excitement when they hear certain vegetables will be served at dinner.
3. Hide Them in Sauces and Other Foods
One of the most common responses consisted of ways to mask the taste, appearance, or knowledge that there are vegetables in the food. You can hide veggies in numerous ways. For example, some parents suggested using an immersion blender to turn the veggies into a base for soup, a smoothie, or a sauce.
Other parents proposed covering them with cheese. One particularly creative individual had a ton of ideas that they’re tried and tested, such as using cauliflower pizza crust, putting sweet potato or pumpkin in chocolate chip cookies, shoving shredded zucchini into brownies, selecting pasta made from veggies and beans, and even using strips of zucchini in place of lasagna noodles.
4. Roast and Season Them
Many parents in the thread granted that kids grow to hate vegetables because their parents don’t prepare them properly. However, sticking a stack of unseasoned vegetables boiled into mush will offend rather than please the senses. It might even put them off vegetables for good.
Instead, these parents recommend roasting them in a pan with olive oil for some crispiness and a few dashes of lemon pepper for zestiness. Some go-to seasonings are salt and pepper, but you can also try garlic, onion powder, cumin, and herbs like oregano, dill, or basil.
Tons of parents were stressing the importance of learning to cook veggies properly. The cooking method can produce wildly different results and tastes. As one uncle pointed out, steamed broccoli significantly differs from pan-fried broccoli in a stir fry.
Figure out what seasonings your child likes and add them to the vegetables. Try them more often if your child responds better to specific cooking methods.
5. Focus on Veggies They Like
Your child likely enjoys or can tolerate at least one or a few vegetables. You can help your child discover what veggies appeal to them by offering them many different types. In addition, your child may like certain vegetables in specific contexts, so try pairing them with other foods or incorporating them in sauces.
Multiple people insisted that encouraging them to take one bite of a new vegetable can be a big win, and they might want to go for more. For example, you can start small with starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Somebody raised an interesting question: why do you need your child to eat a particular food to please you? Getting your child the nutrients they need through sufficient vegetable consumption is a huge win, but the exact vegetables used to achieve that are less important.
6. Experiment & Get Them Involved
Once your child has gotten comfortable with certain vegetables and into a routine of eating them, it may be time to broaden your horizons. You can make trying new foods exciting for them if you present it as something fun they get to do, not something they have to do.
This way, each new vegetable they try is a new adventure, especially if you prepare it differently. Several parents said their children were more eager to eat veggies when they helped peel, cook, or serve them.
7. Give Them a Choice
Ask your child a few questions. The first should be why they don’t like certain vegetables. Get specific. What do they dislike about them, the color, texture, or other association? Then, ask your child what they like. Finally, give your child options to choose the vegetables they prefer for different meals.
A clever parent had the ingenious idea to present their child with two vegetable options for dinner, making them think it’s their idea to eat a particular vegetable. They added that they don’t have the mental power to realize it’s a trap. I don’t know about that last part, some kids are incredibly intuitive, but they are more open to eating a vegetable when choosing it from a set of options.
8. Model the Behavior That You Want Them to Mimic
Don’t be a hypocrite. If you want your child to eat green beans, then you should eat green beans at dinner too. By modeling healthy eating habits, many users said, your child will pick up on that being normal.
When you present vegetables as a chore or punishment, it creates an aversion to these veggies. Instead, you should offer and eat many vegetables at many meals, and your child will follow suit. Somebody said all you can do as a parent is model these healthy choices, and then it’s up to the child how they’ll respond.
9. Change the Presentation
Remember that some children have sensory issues or may associate food with a bad experience. You can flip the script by altering how these foods look and feel. Maybe your child doesn’t like carrots cut into matchsticks and instead prefers them cut into little wheels.
Experiment with how you chop up vegetables, how thick you leave them, how you cook them, and how you assemble them. A few parents advised you to chop them up small, stuff them in lasagna, or mix them into other things they like.
10. Have Them Dip Their Veggies
A couple of parents said dips are the way to go in their house, such as raw carrots dipped in hummus or salad dressing. But, as another parent said, if it encourages them to eat more vegetables, then be generous with the dip.
Even if they’re not too fond of the vegetable, they’ll use it as a vehicle for the dip. Either way, they’re getting their dose of vegetables and enjoying it in the process. All hail veggie dips!
This thread inspired this post.