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Oh boy, I bet most parents can relate to having that kid that refuses to try a single vegetable. They just get a good look at a veggie and decide to hate it on sight. Like, there isn’t even a 2-second rule on the hatred. Give the freaking veggie a chance, will ya!
And then you get the crying and whining and sounds like you are killing them. What on earth must the neighbors think?
I wish I could tell you they outgrow it. They do, to a point. My 15 year old son was terrible, as a child. He hated all veggies, most fruits, and a good portion of normal kid foods. Whipped cream and ice cream he didn’t like. Cream cheese. The random cream soup. Or certain kind of milk. Honestly, I never knew from day to day. Dinner was made and you ate it, or you didn’t. The end.
Fast forward to today and that child STILL dislikes a majority of foods. The list isn’t as long, to be fair. But it’s still a fairly extensive list. The difference is that he has learned HE has to adapt, not others. And that is a huge lesson for him to learn!
Some of the ways that we have helped our kids (and as the oldest of 10 kids I can vouch for my mom using many of these on us) develop at least a tolerance for veggies is…
Make it Fun
Kids who are younger will often have something that they totally adore, such as dinosaurs. Use your kids’ love of dinosaurs to make them enjoy some vegetables. For example, you can make it a dinosaur mission to eat a specific amount of broccoli quickly before t-rex comes and destroys all of the dinosaur kind. You can also use unique recipes that are found on Pinterest to make vegetables look like smiley faces and other fun characters so your kids won’t even think twice about consuming these healthy treats. Perhaps even grab a dinosaur toy or movie that can only be played/watched with if they have eaten their veggies. Keep the amount reasonable and then hold firm!
Be the Example
You better be eating your veggies without complaining if you want your kids to! Heck, you should probably be enjoying them. This will make it obvious that veggies are a normal part of the menu in homes because they’ll have been raised in a household where vegetables are simply part of your everyday diet. Kids, regardless of age, look up to their parents and will often try to mimic you. When you set the example of eating vegetables, you’re showing your kids that eating veggies is an expected, daily activity. But if you rarely munch on a carrot or choose a salad how can you expect your kids to?
Listen to Your Kids
When your kids are adamant about not eating vegetables it can be due to a texture issue or something else that’s going on. I found out that a good majority of the things Levi doesn’t like is purely because of the texture. When I understood that I was able to then find out the ones he likes and use those more often. I also found that changing the texture of the veggies would make him want to eat them. Most vegetables were fine if they were pureed (in fact, a whole lot of my soup recipes came from getting more veggies into Levi). Hear your kids out on the reasons for their dislike of vegetables, if they’re reasonable, you can work with them easier.
Make a One Bite Rule
Lastly, if all else fails you can enforce a “one bite rule” this rule states that all kids shall take at least one bit of any vegetable that’s served to them during the day. This is a great starting point for kids who are super stubborn. You may have to enforce a reasonable consequence if this rule isn’t followed, but most kids are willing to take at least one bite of food in order to remove the idea that they have to consume the entire portion. There is also scientific studies that back up the idea that the more a child is exposed to a veggie they don’t like, they adapt a bit more to it. Good chance that broccoli will never become your child’s favorite. But, you may find they that one-bite a bit easier each time.
Letting your kids change the meal plan for the family or skipping certain parts of the meal is never a good solution. They need to learn good eating habits from a young age. It’s your job to help them with that. But gosh, trying to argue with a 5 year old about the merits of a stalk of asparagus is just a fight most of us are willing to endure. Try some of these tips and see if you have a bit better success.
Remember, be patient and reasonable. Keep consistent and firm. And try, for the sake of all of us that hated green veggie as children, to understand that some children hate veggies. With a deep abiding hatred. Do what you can to help them beat that hatred.