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7 Tips for getting kids to eat vegetables

Jennifer House is a Registered Dietitian, author & mom of 3. From Baby-led weaning to picky eating and meal planning, she helps you to make feeding your family easier

Watch the Calgary's Child Global Calgary TV clip here, sponsored by CropLife Canada.

The #1 complaint I hear from parents of picky eaters is “My kids refuse to eat veggies!” So today I’m going to share a few kid friendly tips for how to increase that veggie intake. Without having to bribe your kids or “hide” the vegetables for your fussy eaters.

Before we get into that, I find it reassures parents to know that if your child likes fruit, it contains pretty much the same nutrients as veggies. Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin A and fibre can all be found in both fruit and vegetables. And despite what you hear from “The Dirty Dozen,” you don’t have to worry about pesticides on your child’s apples or strawberries!

7 Tips to increase vegetable intake for kids

  1. The most important thing to do is to offer the vegetables over and over. No matter how many times they are refused. And without pressure! Pressure just backfires. The more you pressure “take 3 bites….just 1 taste…” the less your child will like and eat the veggie.
  2. Try different forms. Some kids like frozen veggies! Or raw. Or cooked mushy. Kids tend love food in chip or fry form, which I demonstrated on Global Calgary. I like roasting vegetables, which brings out their natural sweetness.
  3. Give veggies fun names. Research shows kids will eat more! Instead of broccoli, serve “trees.” Make carrots into “super-sight carrots.”
  4. Dip is fine! Whether it’s hummus, ranch or  ketchup (the #1 ingredient is tomatoes!), if it helps get the veggies in, I’m ok with it.
  5. Try smoothies. Don’t try and trick your child into drinking their veggies, or they will be cautious of what you’re hiding in all foods! But try serving a “green monster” smoothie with spinach, and let them add the ingredients.
  6. Get your kids involved. They can pick a new veggie at the store. Wash and tear the lettuce for a salad. Or choose a new recipe to try. This gives them a sense of pride and ownership in the food. And they will be more likely to try it.
  7. Play with food outside of a meal or snack time. I brought a real Mr Potato Head onto Global, but there are lots of food play activity ideas online. This can be especially helpful if you have a sensory sensitive child, who doesn’t like certain textures for example. It give them a chance to play and feel the food. It’s another way to expose your child to food - with zero pressure to eat it, as it’s not eating time!

Want more tips on feeding your picky eater? Grab my free 3-part video series "3 tips for managing picky eating" here.

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