Real Mom Questions – Real Mom Answer: Getting Your Kids to Dig Veggies!
By: Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN
Real Mom Question:
I cannot get my girls to eat vegetables (toddler dilemma). The only veggies I can get them to eat sometimes, are edamame, carrot French fries (which are really not veggies), or veggie burgers. I try to sneak veggies into grilled cheese sandwiches, but they spit it out in disgust; they will eat around the peas if they find them in pasta sauce. I have even tried hummus with carrot sticks, but they only want crackers or pretzels.
Photo Credit: Abdulla Al Muhairi
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Real Mom Answer:
Our cutie pies are so sweet but sometimes so difficult–especially when it comes to feeding and eating. Sit back and relax. This is a process, a long one that for some kids can last longer than others, depending on other circumstances.
But in general, veggies are bitter and therefore not so yummy to their little palates. I would ensure those veggies stay on the plate, however. Just because the girls have given up, don’t give up on trying.
How to get your kids to eat their veggies and like them!!
1. Keep ’em coming. Continue the exposure every night even if it is just one carrot. The more the tots see the veggies, the more neutral they will become.
2. If they like carrot French fries, try similar shapes, textures, and flavors. For instance, try sweet potato fries, fried zucchini sticks, carrot muffins, and carrot juice (mixed with apple juice).
3. Sugar coat with cheese. Veggies may be bitter, but we can get the picky palates to convert by melting cheese on them or making cheese fondue. Even if the kids use the same veggie over and over as a utensil, that’s a great step in the right direction. As moms know, getting the toddlers to just touch or handle certain foods is a feat in and of itself.
4. Host a taste-test party. Go the grocery store and get one veggie to try five ways or get five veggies to try with one dip or condiment.
In our home, I host a Sunday “Maybe Someday They Will Eat This.” Of course, the kids don’t know I call the day this. But every Sunday I buy a bunch of new foods to try and let the kids try a few of them that night at dinner. Currently, I only do it on Sundays, but it has worked for us as I could not have the sitter doing it for me during the week.
5. Watch Copy Kids, the best DVD ever that role models toddlers eating fruits and veggies.
6. Go out to eat!!! Yes, bring your little princes and princesses to restaurants.
Both of my boys have increased their food variety by trying out food at restaurants and trying new sides with their main courses. Think cheese quesadillas with a fruit salad of mango, pineapple, avocado, and peppers or steak with veggie biscuits.
7. Work with their favorite color or flavor. If they love purple, make purple potatoes, purple eggplant, purple cauliflower, purple broccoli, and so on.
8. Get your veggies from the farm. They taste one thousand times better. I know order all of my produce and proteins through Farmigo. It is the best-tasting and most visually appealing food by far. I mean, who wouldn’t want to snack on beans when they taste like sugar and crunch like chips?
9. Follow that popular saying “Keep Calm and Carry On!” With consistent effort and exposure minus the power struggle, your little ones will slowly get there. A veggie is healthy but not essential for life. Just keep moving forward.
And one last thing, try the new rainbow baby carrot sticks, they are beautiful and sweet!!!