Monday, November 10, 2008

How to get your kids to eat veggies...can you really?

Can you really coerce your kids into eating veggies? Can you force them to eat them? How important is eating veggies vs. having a peaceful meal? These questions are just some of the meal time questions that mothers often ask. While I don't have all of the answers, I want to share a few stories and suggestions that have and haven't worked for me over the years. Hope they help you!

My kids have all eaten veggies really well as babies. It is usually around eighteen months that I begin to see them refuse veggies. My pediatrician said as long as they are eating plenty of fruit and a good variety that it's alright if they don't eat veggies. I wasn't convinced. I decided to create the healthiest meals that I could and then just draw the line and require them to eat it. After all, I am the parent right? Yeah...I did that. I made this great zucchini casserole and put it in front of my kids. The older two wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. I just drew the line, explained that they would obey and amazingly enough they both began to eat the casserole. Feeling pleased at what a great job that I was doing as a parent I began eating my zucchini casserole. I looked up just in time to see one of my boys shiver and then throw up his entire dinner. Yeah...I can make them eat it but evidently I can't make it stay down!

I decided that it must be a texture issue so I began to do the puree thing. I had an infant so I was pureeing veggies anyway. I would look through the freezer and find the frozen veggie puree that was close in color to what we were eating and then mix it in. You know...butternut squash in the mac & cheese, spinach under the cheese on pizza, and flax seed in all baked goods (not a veggie but very nutritious). The result was that the kids, most of the time, ate the veggies without ever knowing. Amazing! It seemed like I had at last found the answer to getting the proper nutrition down the kids. However, after the baby was old enough to not need pureed food, I quit pureeing as it was a time consuming process.

Now I was back to square one.

One evening in an attempt to get the kids out from under foot as I was preparing dinner, I sliced up some veggies and put them on the table with a little dip. The younger two ate it immediately and one of the older ones took a few bites. I began to do this regularly and before long three of my four were gobbling down the veggies. Because the kids are really hungry and that is the only option, they eat it. My oldest didn't join in on the veggie eating right away but eventually, even he came around and now they will devour a plate of veggies as I cook dinner. They are occupied and out from under foot and they are gobbling down veggies. So, in the end, it was as simple as giving the veggies as an only option in a stress free environment when they were really hungry. There was no forcing veggies or veggie casserole coming back up:) If they are hungry they can munch on veggies while I prepare dinner and if not, they can wait for the dinner to be ready.

I don't know if this will work for you but it has been worth it for me:)

Another last suggestion is to start veggies early. With my first two, I was so concerned about them choking, that I didn't give many veggie chunks until they were developmentally at a place where they were turning into picky eaters. With my third, I would chop tomatoes, avocado, black olives, broccoli, carrots etc. on the tray as soon as she could take chunks. To this day, she eats all kinds of veggies very well. I did the same with my fourth baby and he is a veggie lover as well. I even started some crisper veggies like cucumber before they turned one just sliced really thin. My baby prefers cucumber to almost anything else.

If you have picky eaters...give it a try!

1 comment:

  1. These are excellent ideas for pickie eaters! I am so trying these!