How to Get Kids to Eat Veggies
There’s no magic trick to getting your kids to eat their veggies, but don’t let that stop you from trying to encourage healthy eating habits.
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Add them to soups: Most kids will take a few cooked carrots in the chicken soup they love, and might even be willing to try some small pieces of zucchini. You could also puree the vegetables in the soup for a creamy option.
Air fry them: Test out a healthier version of fries or potato chips first. Then try other veggies. Use a mandoline to slice up other cylindrical vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, or zucchini to make veggie chips that pack the same satisfying crunch. You can also dip carrot sticks in egg and bread crumbs before frying them up for some extra flavor.
Do a taste test: Tweak a recipe a couple of different ways and have kids vote on which they prefer, or see if they can guess a carrot’s color when they eat it with their eyes closed.
Take advantage of screen time: I find that kids are happy to reach out and munch on lots of different things when they’re on the couch watching a movie. I usually serve a plate of veggie sticks as a starter while we wait for the popcorn to pop.
Get kids involved in meal prep.
Ask for your kids’ input when meal planning, and take them shopping with you. Send them on a hunt for all the red fruits and vegetables. Visit a local farmer’s market and see what the vegetables look like with the dirt still on them. Better yet, grow a few veggies of your own if you have the outdoor space, or dedicate a window planter to edibles—mint and stevia are fun leaves to chew.
Hone your pitch.
Encourage your child to eat their veggies based on their age and interests. Do they want to be strong like a superhero, or grow big like a dinosaur? Some of the biggest dinos were vegetarian, and spinach helps you build muscle. Vegetables strengthen your eyes and make your hair grow. Older children can learn about the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber, and how different nutrients support brain function.
Support with supplements, as necessary.
Unless your child is a super star at the table, a multivitamin probably isn’t a bad idea, although it’s always preferable to get vitamins and minerals through foods instead. Malkoff-Cohen recommends researching a multi with bioavailable vitamins that are easier for the body to absorb. And if you have any questions or concerns, seek out the advice of your child’s pediatrician or a nutritionist.
Absent any real medical issues, there’s no reason to give kids nutrient drinks like Pediasure, which contain a lot of sugar. Not only does this promote tooth decay, it fills kids up so they are less likely to eat other foods.
“Any vegetable you can give a day is a win,” Malkoff-Cohen says. So start slow, keep trying, and don’t stress it.