Getting kids to eat their veggies

How often have you heard your child say things like “I hate vegetables” or “I tasted it and I hate it.”

Most parents agree that it’s hard to get their kids to eat a healthy diet.  And because of this, parents often resort to rules to help their kids eat healthier, like “you need to clean your plate before dessert” or “no dessert until you eat your vegetables”.

While parents mean well, these rules don’t always work. For example, telling your child they can only have dessert  after they eat their vegetables can make it seem like vegetables are not good, but need to be eaten before you can eat something that is good.

Rules can also backfire. Some studies have shown that kids can have a more negative response and end up eating less of the food we’re trying to get them to eat than kids who didn’t hear the rule.

Experts say that when trying to get kids to eat certain foods, like healthy vegetables, that positive encouragement works better than having rules. 

Here’s a few ideas you can try to help your kids eat healthier meals

Pick out a vegetable or a new healthy food and try getting your kids to help prepare it. Studies show this can help increase the chance that the child will try it and often even really enjoy it. 

Some parents have success trying the “no-thank-you bite” where the child has to take a bite and if he or she doesn’t like it, can say “no thank you”. But often what happens is as the child watches the parents eat and enjoy the food, they will often do the same.

Don’t forget that kids watch their parents. This is true for all kinds of behavior and is no different when it comes to meals.  If you don’t like or eat vegetables, chances are that your child will follow in your footsteps. One idea is for you to find new ways to prepare certain foods so you enjoy them more. For example, try grilling vegetables.

Kids, like most adults, love desserts.  So here’s another tip to consider. While there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat, there are many delicious dessert options. Try more fruits, sorbets or sherbet, which are healthier than desserts with lots of sugar, fat and salt and taste delicious.

Having healthy food at home, being a good role model and getting kids to be involved in preparing foods can help your kids to eat a healthier diet. And research shows that as kids grow up, even if they start to indulge in unhealthy foods, they are more likely to return to the healthy foods they grew up with.

To read more about the research stated in this article,  visit