Looking for ways to get children to eat vegetables? You’ve come to the right place…
“I’m not eating that,” says Belle, practically spitting as she speaks. She is pointing with her fork at some broccoli, as though we have heaped actual excrement onto her plate alongside the fish fingers.
“It’s fine!” I say, with forced good humour. “Just eat it with something else and you won’t even taste it.”
She looks at me as though I’m possibly the stupidest creature that’s ever been allowed to roam the earth, let alone be in charge of meal planning. “It’s disgusting,” she says, with a look of genuine repulsion.
This is how I have spent almost every meal time for at least the last 12 years – coming up with new ways to get children to eat vegetables has become the bane of my life and to be quite honest I am just about done. I am teetering on the brink of not giving a toss. “It’s only your health and well being,” I want to say, “have Poptarts for every meal for all I care.”
But I don’t of course; she is presented every day with a selection of vegetables, lovingly prepared, in the hope that at some point before she gets married she will find it within herself to stomach courgette.
In the meantime, I thought I would pass on the wisdom I have accumulated over the years to bring you 6 ways to get children to eat vegetables.
I’ve seen this in action with my sister and her children it seems to be pretty effective. It works like this:
“Eat your carrots.”
“Please eat your carrots.”
“No, I want the cake.”
“But you have to have the carrots first.”
“OK, have one mouthful of carrots, then one bite of cake.”
And thus are the carrots eventually consumed, in tandem with a slice of Victoria sandwich.
“If you don’t eat your dinner you’ll just get it for breakfast,” you say. A bold statement indeed.
Do you really want to go through the dinner hassle again the next morning though?? Only employ this approach if you are prepared to follow through on the threat and possibly have some sort of representative from school call you mid-morning.
“If you only eat sweets then your teeth will rot and look like mine,” I say, opening my mouth wide and showing off a mouthful of fillings. I also use this technique at teeth cleaning time, but am yet to be convinced of its effectiveness. When you’re a child I don’t think you can physically imagine yourself as a grown up; your parents are these ancient creatures from the olden days, you’re never going to be like them. The fact that they shove their open mouths in your face is simply proof of how uncool they are.
This will never be you.
The vegetables, not the children.
I don’t mean around the house either, like some sort of vegetarian treasure hunt, I’m talking about hiding them within a meal, normally with the help of a blender. This solution has pros and cons though – yes, they might eat them, but unless they are aware of it then they are still going to turn their nose up at anything that isn’t puréed in the future. You really don’t want to be the parent of the teenager in a restaurant who can only eat vegetables in liquid form.
For me this solution is less about hiding the veg and more about hiding the problem.
Make vegetables fun
If I had a pound for every time I had arranged chopped carrots and peppers into a smiley face in the hope that it would encourage my children to tuck in, then I would have enough money to buy a bottle of gin, to console myself about the fact that it never worked.
Still, your kids might be a bit less cynical than mine, so it’s worth a shot.
Bring them up in a wholesome and healthy way, so that they see vegetables as a normal and delicious part of every meal.
Do you have any ideas for ways to get children to eat vegetables?
*And of course by ‘sure fire’ I mean ‘unlikely to work’. Sorry.
Image credit – Vegetables from R.legosyn/shutterstock
ha! when I was little we had to eat everything on our plates and I remember finding meal times such a trauma I didn’t want to do the same with W so now we say he can choose one thing to leave..it seems to work OK tbh but it does take him FOREVER to eat them x
Hahaha!!! This has had me howling! I love the idea of a vegetable treasure hunt… I imagine my 3 year old would be more inclined to eat his veg if he had to find it by following clues first!!
Ah yes now, where to start! After many years of the vegetable battle every night, aside from getting them to grow their own (it really does work!), I discovered Birdseye steam fresh sachets – sunshine mix (carrots, peas and sweet corn)!! I bought them when they were on offer in Morrisons as a quick way to cook vegetables when very short on time. I nearly passed out with the shock of daughter eating every last mouthful. I know it sounds like I’m a Birdseye secret agent, but I’m really not, I’m a buy whatever is on offer type! Apart from that the threat of ‘if you don’t eat some veg every day I will have to take you to the doctors for regular checks to make sure you don’t get scurvy!’ Having recently done about scurvy in History lesson, it usually works…..
Gawd, it’s so tricky. I’m a bit fussy sometimes so I can’t really get cross with my kids if there’s something they don’t like, can I?
My parents used to make me eat ‘four more forkfuls’ or whatever, it was traumatising. And, they never even offered me four forkfuls of cake to go with it.
made me smile! as a kid I HAD to eat what I was given and it gave me terrible food issues so I never force mine to eat stuff they don’t like. IF I cook a meal, I try make sure there is at least one veg each person likes, and our only rule is that if there is something new/they’re not keen on, they have to try it, if they don’t like ti then they don’t have to eat it.
Haha this made me laugh out loud as I’ve tried everyone of these techniques and had a similar carrot Victoria sponge scenario! If you find out the trick to it then please do let me know! X
I know that allowing my children to serve themselves rather than having it served for them helped. It made them feel more grown up . We do tend to plonk stuff on a plate and shove it in front of them..