5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

Are you tired of exclaiming this to your children every day? Vegetables are an important part of your child's diet. They help boost his or her immune system to protect against illness. They're also high in fiber, which can help ensure regular bowel movements. And kids who eat more veggies instead of sugary snacks are less likely to become overweight or obese. But explaining that to your kids is not usually enough to convince them to eat their veggies. Thankfully, there are a few other strategies you can turn to.

Allow them to help you cook.

Kids are often skeptical about foods they are not familiar with. If you just offer them a piece of breaded zucchini, for instance, that may avoid eating it just because they're not sure what it is and it looks "weird." You can overcome some of this struggle by allowing your kids to help you cook veggies. Let them select the veggies with you in the grocery store, watch as you cut and peel them, and help you stir them when they are in the pan. Watching the process from start to finish ensures your child knows just what they're eating -- which will make them more likely to eat it.

Offer fresh veggies rather than just cooked ones.

Kids don't always like foods with a mushy texture. Some kids like crunchier foods. It could be that you've been trying to feed your child cooked veggies alone when they would prefer raw ones. Or, the opposite could be true! Offer your child a combination of fresh and cooked veggies so they can pick and choose the ones they like best. Make note of the options your child does eat so you can go back to those again and again.

Hide veggies in other foods.

It's okay to be sneaky sometimes; you're the parent! Kids are pretty good at spotting bits of green or orange in their food, but there are a few veggies you can easily camouflage in dishes kids tend to love.

  • Put a grated zucchini into pasta sauce to add more variation.
  • Put some ground-up cauliflower into baked macaroni and cheese.
  • Add pumpkin to your pancakes. They'll be orange, but they won't taste like vegetables!
  • Put grated zucchini into your next batch of chocolate chip muffins or cupcakes.

Have the pediatrician talk to your child about the importance of veggies.

Some kids tend to shrub off their parents' advice or even refuse to take it as an act of defiance. However, when that advice comes from another adult—especially one they really believe they should trust—they'll be more likely to take it. Talk to your pediatrician before your child's next appointment and ask if they can discuss the importance of eating veggies with your child. If the doctor tells your child to eat more veggies, your child is more likely to take this advice seriously.

Grow your own veggies.

Even if you do not have a big yard, you can plant some of your own vegetables in pots on your porch. Lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers all grow well this way! Have your child help you water and care for the plants throughout the season. As you care for the plants, talk about how delicious they are going to taste when they are finally ready. By the time the veggies are ready to harvest, your child will be excited to taste them. Hopefully after this experience, they will be more likely to eat their veggies in the future.

Persuading kids to eat more veggies is not easy, but it's essential if you want them to stay healthy and strong. For more tips and to learn more about the importance of veggies in the diet, talk to your pediatrician.