How do you get a 5 year old to eat their veggies?
Kids need a nutritious diet to stay healthy, but what do you do if your child hates eating vegetables? What are some tactics to encourage children to eat veggies?
I told my kids that eating at our house is just like eating at a fancy restaurant - we eat our meals in courses. The first course is the vegetable course. We all eat our vegetables first (this helps because everyone is extra hungry at the beginning of a meal and more likely to eat and not complain). When the vegetables are done, we move on to the fruit course. After the fruit is done, we move on to the protein/carb course. You can't move on to the next course until you finish the previous one (everyone eats at their own pace). This way, no one fills up on chicken or hamburgers or bread and is "too full" for veggies and fruit. If someone does not finish one course, he/she doesn't move on to the next course. Believe me, if one kid is watching everybody else enjoy lasagna while he is still looking at his plate of broccoli, that broccoli gets eaten very quickly. If the child refuses to eat something, then dinner is effectively done for that kid. This has worked incredibly well in my house.
My kids are pretty good about eating their veggies, actually, but in the past I've used a handheld grater to shred zucchini, carrots, celery, onions, green beans, peppers.. you name it... into our foods as I'm cooking. Just watch your fingers as shredding a green bean can be dangerous, lol. I've also roasted cut-up veggies (lots of cherry tomatoes + squash, spinach, kale, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic- whatever I've got on-hand) together on a big cookie sheet with some salt and olive oil until they start to caramelize. Then pop them in a food processor or use a potato masher if you don't have a food processor and toss with pasta. My kids are big fans of spaghetti- and as long as I call it "spaghetti sauce" they don't question it. Roasted veggies are also a really delicious way of preparing them, just with a little salt and olive oil in the oven. If you don't like veggies, try preparing them this way and you may find you do like them after all.
One thing that I think helped a ton was that we purchased a half-share in a CSA farm two years ago. Every other week we made a trip to the farm to get our produce, and my boys (ages 2 & 3 at the time) got to help pick green beans, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs from the pick your own beds. They LOVED harvesting the food, and often snacked right there in the field. When I'd serve them the produce at home they'd proudly say "I pick dat!" and "dose are my peas!" They couldn't wait to taste the fruits of their labor! If you have a friend with a garden, ask and see if you can take your kids over to help with harvesting the crops. Visit a Farmers Market and let your child meet the farmer who grew his food. Maybe pick one veggie to grow in your yard that is your child's special project. Perhaps a sense of ownership will encourage him to try new things.
Also, in our house, if you don't eat what is served for dinner that's okay, but you won't eat again until breakfast. Neither of my kids has gone to bed hungry 2 nights in a row. ;) I just decided early on I was only cooking one meal per night, and everyone gets the same thing.
And my last tip is that I serve my kids the V8 Fusion juices, which have both a serving of fruit and a serving of veggies in each glass. I always buy the regular version vs. the light, and then dilute it with water to lower the amount of sugars my boys are getting.
Good luck! I know it can be frustrating to foster good eating habits in our kiddos- but it is so worth it!
I think that the basic thing to do is RELAX. Eating shouldn't be stressful. My youngest son hasn't been good about eating veggies since he started eating solid (non pureed) food. He gets vitamins to make sure he's getting what he needs and he drinks veggie/fruit juice (no sugar added). I've never done the "hide the veggie" thing, because it doesn't teach kids to eat their veggies, it just tricks them. Instead he eats what we eat at dinner, veggies always get put on his plate, and if he doesn't eat them it's no big deal. He's 4 now and just started eating broccoli and carrots. That was a major victory! He also loves raw mushrooms and occasionally will eat cucumber. You could also try giving raw veggies instead of cooked. Sometimes it's a texture issue.
What time are you offering the veggies? If you are doing this at dinner time, when they are tired and grumpy, you are losing the battle. Do this. On a Saturday morning, have a plater made with slices of 2-3 fruits(apple, bananas and raisins), and carrot sticks, celery sticks with peanut butter if there is no allergies and boiled cauli-flowers.Decorate the plater, to make it look like a smile face, or a garden, or a forest. Then, wait for your child to ask for food (don't worry, their brain is working just fine) and offer the colorful and funny plater. I bet your child is going to eat it happily. My son is 4, and always have his fruits and veggies at morning tea and afternoon tea time. At lunch and dinner he likes it simple as macaroni cheese and fish fingers, or burger, or a sandwich with cheese and ham. And he drinks water am milk most of the day, as he asks for something to drink, I give him 2- 3 options and he chooses, and sometimes he just asks for milk, or juice. MAKE IT FUN! and relax.
I also agree with Heather. Meal time should be a time for catching up with everyones day, not fighting about what to eat. I have a 7 year old that is starting the 2nd grade, and just now weights 49 lbs. She has weight 40-41 ils for almsot 2 1/2 years. She is a very picky eater. He diet consists of peanut butter, no jelly, cheese pizza, ramon noodles, cereal, grilled cheese and quessidillas. She eats NO meat, NO veggies, and NO fruits outside the occassional banana. I was very worried But I took her to the dr for a physcial and he said she is extremely healthy. She will out grow it, just keep offering new foods, and have patience. She recently started eating granola bars that have carob in them, and She now eats orgainc cherrios.. She was so excited when I told her how healthy she was eating. She also recently started drinking 100 percent fruit juices. She takes a daily vitamin and drinks lots of water and gets lots of outside exrercise. So As I said, relax, enjoy meal times and keep offering them other foods. They will eventually out grow it..
Puree the foods your kids wont eat from avocado to zucchini and put them into the foods your kids love to eat. When you're baking and home cooking, toss in 1/2C of a vegetable into your dessert or part of a meal they like. For instant, 1/2C cauliflower goes well with mashed potatoes, 1/2C pumpkin in spaghetti sauce, 1/2C spinach in brownies, 1/2C of chickpeas/garbanzo beans into cookies. Pick up the cookbook Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld to help get you started in a wonderful new routine. Just don't cook the veggies before pureeing. Toss in fresh vegetables in the food processor and let it turn to a liquid, add some water when needed. Don't cook your veggies too much or too long, and never microwave food, you will loose vitamins and the hard work will be for nothing.
Having your kids eat around other kids who do love veggies helps to. Maybe you could find a vegetarian friend or a vegan friend who have a child. My niece sees my kids eat vegetables and she joins in to, and she hates vegetables.
I like to mash potatoes and carrots together. Children don't have to see you blending the two. All they need to see are the potato peels to know you made mashed potatoes.
Child's question: "Ma,why are the potatoes so yellow"? Mom: "That's extra butter."
I started offering my then 3 yr old 3 different kinds of veggies and fruits every morning and evening. He could pick 2 that he would have to eat and, if he wanted to, he could leave one...but only after he had tasted it. I would let him spit it out if he really did not like the taste. I still offer 3 kinds of veggies and fruits every evening and morning and he is now almost always eating all 3!!! This is a great way to give kids a choice in what they want to eat. They feel they are in control and that makes it a stress free meal :-)
Im with Heather, I also have never done the "hide the veggies" in any meal... it doesn't help the process of teaching them that veggies are an important part of your daily diet, and if they think they are getting away with not eating them than that is not good. You have to remember that you are the parent and you are the one to set the rules. I tell my children that if they don't finish their whole plate of food that is fine, but the veggies must be finished, period. Some days it takes longer for them to finish than others, but they do understand that veggies are important to have a healthy body!
Like other posters, I let my kids pick and help prepare veggies. It does make them more likely to eat them. I, too, often mix vegetables in to food my kids already eat, but I like to make the pieces visable. I also find that my kids get bored easily, so rotating vegetables AND the way they're prepared helps.
have a veggie loving friend over for playdate,; they will be likely to try what they eat, or listen to them say try it- encourage eating a rainbow idea- (fruits and veg of all colour) veg with fav dip.. try natural maple syrup for a (now and then?) dip; have a colour themed lunch or dinner, fruits,veg, pasta in only that colour - . My kids eat a green veg a day. No green=no junk. Point blank truth of eating a rainbow is good for you and will make you healthier and smarter!
if everything fails, i have made themed foods like pancakes, muffins, with pureed veg. - green i called shrek muffins, orange = halloween blah blah . be creative and maybe act like u dont care b/c it could be all a game/show
good luck and happy vitamin shopping too. (read ingredients for aspartame!) costco?
It's easy to get kids to eat their veggies when they helped grow them. I honestly have no idea why so many people complain that it's so hard to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables. I've never had a problem with it, but I think that might be in part because I started the kids out in the garden at a very young age. Store bought (especially canned) veggies aren't nearly as fresh tasting and delicious as fresh picked from the garden.
hide it in things when my daughter when she was younger HATED veggies so i got some vegies when i made meat lofe stock them in the middle so she could not see it sneak it in ha,burgers pasta and when she was 3 or so i wshe asked what it was i said gummie bears worked pretty well...:) hope this helped :))
My 8 year old narrowed his food intake down to 5 food. Finally we found a great doc who said y
We could not let it happen any longer. We kept thinking he would grow out of it or grow into other foods. The doctor ran some blood work and found that he was having issues with eggs,wheat, milk and garlic. Guess what.....every single food he would eat. It was almost like craving what was going to kill him. Do not get me wrong. He was a big healthy looking kid. Now almost three weeks into our diet change and he is trying some new foods. Quinoa pasts has been a life saver. I am not sure why anyone would give their kids anything else. Raw spinach was crazy to see him eat. Not any food is good to him but at least we stopped throwing up at the table every bite. He is milk free, egg free and almost gluten free. I say almost because I still allow cheese free double sauce papa johns pizza every so often. It is kinda good and now the whole family eats no cheese pizza. Kids will eat but you have to clean the palette and body of sugar and junk. Once you do things tsste
Very simple. I serve them first, before they get any of their other food. Salad is the first course in our meal, followed by vegetables, then protein and rice. They don't get anything else until their first course is finished. Once I was sure they would eat their vegetables alongside their other foods, I began serving them with protein and rice. However, salad is still always served first in our house.
Make it fun for them. Let them pick out their fruit and veggies and a few cookie cutter shapes and cut the food into those shapes. With fruit you can add it to just about anything from yogurt to oatmeal. Veggies can be "hidden" in sauces, stews, casseroles etc and also if they like dressings you can have them dip their veggies in that. Since 5 is still pretty young you can make a game out of it, play the "how many veggies/fruit slices can you eat" and make the reward a sticker or a chance to go some place fun if they eat all their veggies and fruit for a day or week. My daughter is 20 months old and she has always loved fruit and veggies but when we were trying to teach her body parts we used fruit and veggies to make a face and asked her to eat the nose or eyes. It was a fun way to teach her body parts and also to get her to eat good.
Istarted when my were younger and told them broccoli was trees . peas were rocks . You have to think what would make my child want to eat this . My Son even ate chicken livers as a child we never told him was what it was . Later he would not eat them when he figured out what it was . Now you can't get him to eat any veggies . he is 36.
I add Kale to our morning smoothie, he loves it, I add greens, chard, kale, romaine, cucumber to pineapple and blend, he drinks and I also freeze into icy pops :) I get his help making the smoothies so he realizes that greens can be great.
From the time my daughter started eating solids until this year (now almost 4) it was a struggle to get her to eat fruit and vegetables. I tried pureeing vegies and putting it in her food, but as others said it's not teaching her to eat them. Earlier this year we started just being firm with her. She understands what dessert is so she knows if she wants dessert after dinner she has to eat her vegetables and the same goes with fruit during the day. It started out as a tough battle but she quickly learned that she needs them. She now eats most vegetable including green beans, zucchini, spinach, carrots, broccoli, asapargus and salad and even likes them! Just keep in mind you are the parent and it is important for them to have fruit and vegetables in their daily diet.
The best way to get your kids to eat their veggies is to make sure you eat them, too! Kids will eat what they see their parents eating. My 3 1/2 year old son is a vegetarian (like me!) and I have no problem getting him to eat sweet peppers, kale, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and even black beans and chickpeas. He loves broccoli (particularly on pizza!) and he loves it when I make ratatouille. (He says, "Just like the movie, Mommy!") I think the best way to get your kids to eat their veggies is to set a good example. My son sees how my husband and I eat and that's how he eats. I was worried about getting him to eat veggies, and then a friend of mine, who is also vegetarian with two kids, told me that he's never had a problem getting his kids to eat their veggies because the kids see the parents eating them all the time! It was like a little light bulb went off! I also have no problems getting my son to eat things like bulghur, kasha and brown rice because again, he sees us eating it. Healthy eating habits are soooooo important at this age! Good luck! :-D
My 4 and 6 y/olds still eat mashed veges, yes mashed! Potato/sweet potato/pumpkin/cauli and peeled zucchini (cause then its white), add generous amount of butter, add milk, grated cheese. Its very tasty and smooth. I wonder if I still be doing it when they are 10 LOL. Make sure they are definitely hungry by dinner and put a treat on the table in front of them, they know they can have it when they have finished eating!
When my children were little we would go to the produce market and I'd let them pick out veggies for their selves they didn't always like them but they found many they did like. Give your child control of what they think they would like it makes for a better eater and makes them feel like a big kid with a little control. :)
I have been very lucky that my children love their veggies and they haven't reached 5 yrs old yet. Sawyer will eat a head of brocolli like a drumstick!!! LOL!!!
I hated vegetables when I was a child, but I love them now, and so do my children and grandchildren.
My Mom cooked the vegetables from a can, or freezer package and they were tasteless. My suggestion is to have a snack mid morning or mid afternoon that is devoted to fresh vegetables, Try the sweeter ones first, like carrots,tomatoes, zuccini, etc, and cut them in easy to hold sections. Add some new ones when you can. Don't make a big deal of forcing them to try eating vegetables. Take the kids to the grocery store, or fruit and vegetable markets, and let them pick a few choices for the family. Hopefully your kids will grow up to enjoy healthy food! Mimi Glueck
When my son was younger, I used to blend veggies and mix them into things.... now that he is almost 8, he eats pretty much anything. There are some veggies he doesn't like - like green beans - and as long as he tries a bite of everything i respect that he just doesn't like them. I love not having to prepare special foods just for him and not having to fight about food!
http://www.thesneakychef.com has some great ideas, and they work :-), at least they do for my picky eaters
Start as young as possible. With my kids I've made my own baby foods, from fresh fruits and veggies. Instead of teething rings or biscuits I've offered carrots and beans and dried fruit and so on. Even if the chew off a piece, trust me, the learn to handle it and its a way to choke-proof them, very effectively. But most notably, we grow our own. A patch the size of a single door can feed and add interest to meals for a family of four so you don't need space, or earth if you're in an apartment, grow them in pots. Or vertically against an exterior wall. When they grow their own fresh produce, they cannot wait to taste it. My kids all prefer raw veg and crunch on them all day long for snacks. We steam them just a moment if we're eating them warm and add a squeeze of lemon - again from the garden. I've yet to have a day's trouble. Its important that everyone eats everything, if Dad doesn't eat something, chances are the kids'll follow suit. And they also eat a host of exotic food, olives, prawns, mussels, different cheeses and so on, because we've never made a fuss over any food being 'different' or strange. Food is for family time. Like an adventure, exploring and learning. Teach them the connection between good eye sight and carrots or strong bones and calcium rich foods. Its empowering. And laslty, my kids cook. They can slice, dice, chop, saute, grill, and from a very young age I allow them to handle sharp knives and graters, its years and we've yet to have an incident. Why? Its empowering and exhilirating and they learn to look after themselves, cooking with your kids is the single most valueable thing you can do for their confidence, daily. :D
The only way to get my kids to eat their vegies was to smother them in some kind of sauce. Tomato sauce is their favourite! And the more sauce the better! And we to try and serve the vegies before the other yummies so thay dont fill up on their meat and leave the vegies :)
I'm vegan and raising my 5 kids vegan also. They're 10, 9, 7, 6 & 3 and they eat their vegetables and love them because they're so used to having them. If they didn't eat their vegetables they wouldn't have a lot of choice for something else to eat. Keep exposing your kids to vegetables and limit trash food and they'll soon grow to love them.
They also help with our vegetable/herb garden in the back yard so they're always excited to eat what they've helped and watch grow.
I've always told them what's in their food, rather than hiding things so they'd eat it, plus I focus on a lot of different vegetables and what nutrition they provide us. They've grown to appreciate how good vegetables are for them.
We just have to remember that a serving for a five year old is not that big. As adults we sometimes "fool ourselves" by putting our smaller portions on smaller plates so we feel like we are getting more. Maybe we can fool our picky kids by putting their small portions on bigger plates so they feel they don't have that much to eat. I really like the "courses idea" where veggies are eaten before the main food.
Model it; and be patient (without putting any pressures on your child).
I spoke with a nutritionist about this because my kids refuse to eat veggies. I was told that V8 Fusion is a good substitute, and since my kids will drink juice, that is how they get all the good stuff in their diet.
1. don't "kill" them by overcooking!
2.offer a variety--if it's found in the store or we can grow it in our area, my kids have probably tried it, maybe more than once.
3. When my younger daughter refuses to try something new or that she hasn't had in a while, she gets teased about "Sam-I-Am" from the Dr. Seuss book. read it again & stop to make the point that as long as he won't taste it, he doesn't know what he's missing out on...
4.ONE bite counts as a taste. But it must be tasted EVERY time it's served.
5.Offer condiments or dips for raw or cooked veggies. I watched a picky eater who decided that cooked Broccoli dipped in ketchup was good. My kids like carrots dipped in either peanut butter or Miracle Whip type salad dressing. Go beyond Ranch dressing. Try pureed cottage cheese (with a touch of sour cream for texture) seasoned to taste with dry ranch mix. Try carrots in salsa (especially some of the flavors with "extra" flavors-peach, corn...). If they're willing to taste it, I'm game, as long as I don't have to make a huge amount.
My son used to hate eating veggies, too. So I put them on a party platter with a dip bowl in the center and asked him what he would like to dip his veggies in. I presented it as fancy as I could and acted like I was serving the king his veggies and acted like I was his butler. In the dip bowl, he prefers ranch dressing and he now lloves eating his veggies!
You can sneak in there veggies. I know someone who puts shredded carrots into the muffins and cupcakes. Or like we do is you have to try everything. Like tonight we had large lima beans. My daughter didn't want them so she got two of them. She has to eat them to get any thing else. No chocolate milk, desert, nothing extra unless she eats them. And I make it a habit to make desert to encourage the eating of veggies.
When I first started to feed my kids baby food I would only feed them the veggies first and some meats after. I never let them get into too many fruits. Those were treated as desert, not candy. As they got older I fed them steamed veggies. Now that my kids are 7 and 10 they beg me for veggie trays and meat and cheese trays. It a little late for some to start with they baby food but try steaming veggies and putting some honey butter on it. Might help
Lots of great answers on here.
I'm lucky our kids like most veggies and I try to make sure we have at least one vegetable for dinner that they like and then introduce them to something new or less liked at the same time. They have to keep trying it, even just one little bite. Two of our kids are now brussel sprout lovers because of it. Otherwise, I try to add extra veggies in their diet by adding grated zuchinni to muffins etc. It's even good in meatloaf!
Just put it in front of them they will in time. If it really bothers u mix it in tomatoes sauces or in pudding or meatloaf or anything that will mix in what u are having for dinner. But always but it in front of them.
i make meatballs and blend frozen veggies in the processor (while still frozen to make sort of a powder)and mix into the meatballs then simmer them in sauce, spaghetti or cream of mushroom soup with seasonings and Worcestershire.
I also make egg muffins( http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2006/10/egg...) with bacon or sausage and add veggies as above.
my daughter loves both.
recently I tried chopping cooked cauliflower small and put it with some prepared box mac and cheese in a greased baking dish add shredded cheddar cheese and bake 350 for 20 min, to melt cheese and brown top. she never noticed.
My kids (8 & 5) love their vegies.
We grow whatever vegies we can, this involves the kids from the start. They help plant the seeds and then water them, talk to them, pick them ,eat them.Sometimes, the vegies dont even reach the kitchen. Quite often they are in their cubbyhouse munching on cherry tomatoes or beans or even chives.
The next thing I do is explain to them why they are good for us, I go through whatever vegie we are having and teach them. eg Spinach, I use the Popeye muscles analogy for my son - loves his spinach cause he wants strong muscles.
My kids usually help me cook dinner,. I make them a vegie platter to munch on while we are cooking, usually with a avocado dip. My kids love cooking so I involve them with it - even if its grating a carrot. By the time we have dinner they have had a couple of servings of vegies. They are more happy to eat their vegies because they have been involved in the process.
Im a good cook and detest the soggy boiled vegetables that I was served as a kid. Any wonder kids dont like vegies. I usually steam, stir fry or serve them raw. Sometimes I make a 'cheese 'sauce (made from pureed cauliflower and herbs etc - my son has food allergies so cant have cheese)
When my son was going through his 'meat only' stage, I made faces out of his dinner. Chopped up lettuce hair, grated carrot beard..
If these starategies dont work, You can just hide the vegies in their meals, "fake it till you make it". Spagetti bolognaise hides so many vegies, so does meatballs and pies. Kids love pies .
I dont give my kids a choice, there is no dessert till they have had their vegies. I wont allow them to eat rubbish, a few treats every now and then. I dont make a big deal out of it though. Eating shoudnt be a stressful thing. You want to create an enjoyable atmosphere.
My kids are the best, my 5 year old said to me this morning - I kid you not "Thanks for not giving us much junk food Mum, i like being healthy" That is a reward in itself.