How Do I Get My Children to Eat Their Veggies?? - Amanda Hilton
How Do I Get My Children to Eat Their Veggies??
Amanda Hilton / February 2019

Let me just start by saying….it isn’t easy! Like most things parenting, getting your children to eat vegetables can be a daunting task. It is something that is best if started early in life for it to be less difficult for you and your child but “it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks”. I’m going to share with you the tried and tested ways that will help you get your children to eat their vegetables.

When I had my youngest daughter, my life was very different from what it is now. I was a single mother, a mature student, working part-time, and knew very little about nutrition. Yes, I started my daughter out on rice cereal and veggies like you read in all the baby books, but from there…convenience became key for this very busy mom. We relied on granola bars, waffles, hash browns, canned beans in sauce, grilled cheese, and pasta (lots of pasta). As time went on, our family grew and I learned A LOT about nutrition and parenting.

Fourteen years later and many years of school, research and trial-and-error, as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with four children, this is what I’ve learned; starting children out on vegetables and not offering up all the processed junk, is KEY; being prepared is a lifesaver; getting the little ones to help can ACTUALLY be helpful and; there are sooooo many ways to sneak veggies into foods kids love.

Start at the beginning
Do my children always eat their veggies without a fight? Absolutely not! Dinner is challenging. But they do eat their vegetables because they know this is what they get, and they do not want to starve. Clients have said things like, “my four-year old won’t eat anything but goldfish, what do I do?”. Well, is your four-year-old taking your wallet, walking to the grocery store and purchasing goldfish? I think not. You buy the food, you make the healthy choices and your child will have no choice but to follow suit. Starting little ones out on fresh organic produce without adding sugary sauces or condiments can help them to secure a taste and liking for a variety of vegetables.

As they grow (which they do too quickly), continue to offer all sorts of vegetables, even ones that you may not appreciate. In our house, I’m not a big tomato fan but my youngest son will eat a pint of cherry tomatoes a day if I allow it. Variety is so important. Limiting sugar and processed foods is essential. Children don’t need added sugar in their diet and if you don’t give it to them at a young age, they won’t yearn for it as they get older. Reserve “dessert” items for special occasions like birthdays.

Be prepared
I know we are all pressed for time these days but if we have time for the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy (OMG, did you see the last episode!!), then we have time to put together a healthy lunch for our children to take to school the next day (it seriously only takes me 5 min to make my SK’s lunch – cut up veggies, cut up fruit, and a sandwich with goat cheese and spinach – done!). As for dinner, meal prepping is super important when it comes to healthy veggie-rich dinners. Taking an hour on the weekend after the kids are in bed and while you are having your cup of tea (or wine, depending on how your week has gone), you can make a meal plan for the week and even prep some of the food you need. This way, you are prepared for each night and not relying on take-away or frozen pizza. I have become such a meal-planner that I’ve made it part of my job. When you contact me, we can set up a meal plan that works for you and your family and is mega healthy.

Helping hand
Getting your little ones (big ones too!) to help out at the grocery store and in the kitchen can actually be helpful (sometimes). Allowing your child to choose a new vegetable while at the grocery store, if you are brave enough to shop with a cart full of kids, can be beneficial to getting them to try new foods. At home, having your youngster sitting or standing next to you, safely, to help with stirring and pouring can make them feel important and may give them incentive to try the end product knowing that they helped make it. Sometimes, we let our 14-year-old make dinner all by herself and she loves it because she feels important. When the younger ones help, be prepared for a bit more cleanup afterwards. You can use that time to teach them about tidying up and make it fun. Helping hands in the kitchen does require a bit of patience but the kids will be pros in no time and you will be able to sit back and let them make you dinner 😊

Sneaky, sneaky
There are loads of books and info online that give you recipes to sneak food into your child’s meals. Butternut squash can be put into grilled cheese, veggies like zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower can be pureed into sauces for pasta, avocado (which is actually a fruit, but super healthy none the less) can be mixed into low sugar brownies or breakfast muffins. Do a bit of research and see what you can mix your veggies into so that your children are getting all that they need. Raw veggies are very important for proper digestion so continue to offer those up too. Making fun food presentation or a side of hummus for dipping can be helpful to get those veggies in their tummies.

Sometimes we need a bit of help and as with most things, results won’t happen overnight. But you too can get your children to eat their veggies (and even enjoy them too!). Send me a message if you would like to set up a consultation so I can help you achieve your health goals for you and your children.