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How do you get children to eat their vegetables?

by Bryony Harrison (follow)
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Not all children are fussy eaters, but for those who refuse to eat their veg, what do you do? Are there certain vegetables children are more likely to eat than others? Are there any incentives you give them? Or do you send them to bed without any supper?

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One good way is to hide the vegetables in the meal, like adding them to spaghetti bolognese, which means they either won't notice them or it will help them get used to the idea of eating them without being too confronted with the foreign flavours. You can incorporating them in fun ways, like making pictures on a pizza with the toppings, or get them to help make the meal, as they'll feel like they're missing out if everyone else is eating it and praising it and they haven't had any (no-one can help picking at the food as it's prepared too, so they might try some without even realising what they're doing). Potatoes, for example, can be made into homemade chips, then the next time you do them you can make carrots sticks in the same way as well (adding variety in slowly like this will hopefully teach them to be more adventurous).

You should eat with them, and set a good example yourself. You can also make a rule that they have to eat everything on their plate at dinner and then they'll get dessert (which doesn't have to undo your hard work getting them to eat healthy food, as there are some pretty fun, healthy options - you can even get them to make smoothies and other drinks earlier in the day and then freeze them for ice-blocks). Don't be too forceful or pestering though, as they'll say 'no' out of habit then, or just to be stubborn. Eating needs to seem fun - if you can get them used to trying new things, even if it's unhealthy things first, they might be more likely to try the veggies and you can work out how best they like to eat them from there.
Keep offering vegetables from a young age and set a good example by eating them yourself. They say it takes ten tries to get kids used to a new texture or flavour so don't give up of they don't like it straight away. When kids are young chop them in interesting shapes. Make vegetables an important part of the meal by offering them first. If all else fails, hide them within the main meal.
I like to give them different names and add them to stories to make them more fun. For example, broccoli florets are mini trees eaten by all the best adventurers. Anything beginning with 'P' is pirate food and carrots are magic because they make you see in the dark.
I like this one Claire! Reminds me of I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato from the Charlie and Lola books. :)
Try remembering which vegetables you liked or didn't like as a child, and you'll find that it might be pretty similar to your own child's opinion. Children's tastebuds aren't as fully developed as adults, which is why they don't like some vegetables because they find the flavour too strong. Classic examples are with leafy veg such as rocket, spinach, lettuce etc. Try avoiding these and go for something milder like peas and sweetcorn.

Children also like variety and bright things. Pick different coloured bright foods such as carrots, beans, tomatoes, etc to make their meal look attractive. Hiding food in things like shepherd's pie is also a good idea. One, they don't notice it is there, and second, some of the taste is masked.

Texture is also important. Some textures can be off putting or difficult to swallow.
I was a very fussy eater when young. Poor Mum kept taking me to the Doctor thinking I had some terrible disease. My children got the fussy gene from me and when I nursed my own Mother she was the biggest fusspot with food.
by nat_c
My sister makes veggies attractive to my little nephew by cutting the veggies to cute shapes such as pyramids, fish, balls. This method makes the veg more appealing.
Sometimes, making a liquidized veggie soup can help introduce veggies. However, not all kids are going to like veggies. It is really a trial and error. If they don't like a certain vegetable, allow them to try it a few weeks later.
Veggies like pumpkin and spinach are good to go into creamy soups. Cook them a little before making a puree. That way it doesn't lose the vitamins and the soup can be creamy without any added cream. Carrots, corn, even eggplant can go in lasagna and au gratin. Any dish with cheese on top goes well with kids. Also include veggies in pastas, sandwiches and salads.
Take the kids shopping with you and let them pick "their" vegetable. Gives them a sense of control. Also put just a couple of each vegetable on their plate. Suggest they try at least one but don't make a big deal of it. A friend of mine put broccoli in front of her 3yo, without comment, for 3 months until he started eating it suddenly one day, now loves it!

You could try getting them to grow their own. Then they want to eat them out of pride. But if that is in the to hard basket. Find some vegetable they do like and give them that. Maybe add a new one on their plate to try but no fuss if they don't like it. After all I never eat what I don't like. Do you?
Hide them in sauces. Better yet, let them see you eating your veggies - children are great emulators and they love to do what Mum and Dad are doing.
I never had this problem and I am not 100% why, it might have been just luck. Or it might have been that when I introduced solids I used the same veges that we were eating.They were always a part of our meals, and we always sat at the table together for all meals. My daughter liked to be eating what I was eating. During different stages of her development she would have some favourites but I never turned it in to a battlefield, if she wanted less on a given day I took the queue from her.
I don't have children, but my Mum had a couple of brilliant ways when I was a kid. She'd ask "what colour do you feel like eating". She'd make a novelty out of it "ooh, I wonder what your beans would taste like in your orange juice" (delicious, incidentally). We'd also "make soup" together. She'd give us a knife and board each, and by the time we ran out of veggies to chop and put in the pot, half of them would have surreptitiously disappeared! (into our mouths) :)
With my first child I made lots of mistakes. As soon as he turned his nose up at something I would prepare him something else. It's made him a fussy eater. I try to hide veggies in things. A family favourite are vegetable pancakes and "clean" ice cream which is really frozen banana blended with cacao and honey. With son number 2 I just kept persevering with different foods. If he refused it one day I would try again a few days later. It's meant that he will eat just about anything healthy without a fuss. If only I had known before....
Simple ! .Starve them of everything else ,then they have to eat their vegies. My Mum did, and there isn't one veg' that I dont love ,all these years on Mick- the carrot muncher.
I didn/t as I couldnt
by Finy
I had 2 fussy children who wouldnt eat vegetables. I blended all their vegetables in stews and bolognese. One of them turned out to like all food and the other is just a meat eater, he wont change as he is 29.I was beside myself with worry as a new Mother. I know now that they will eat when they are hungry
I always loved my veges (exception being okra).
My daughter was never a problem with veges. BUt, her son will not touch them.
I believe the best way to get kids to eat veges is to tell them that you personally love them, but that you don't want to give veges to them.
I believe that kids want whatever they can't have. So, if you make a really big deal about them at the the dinner table, but tell the kids they can't have them until they are about 14 years old……you will have no problem in getting veges down their throats. It's just my idea about all this, but I believe if kids think that it is "forbidden fruit" they might just end up fighting you to get access to it.
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