Another mealtime is fast approaching and I think to myself, “what vegetables would Jack like to eat?” It has been what seems like a very long time coming, but my now four year-old will no longer glance at his plate and politely say “no thanks” when there is a tiny morsel of vegetables on his plate for dinner. He now will try almost anything and even asks for some vegetables, all depending on his mood of course. I will not complain if he decides he occasionally does not want to eat the vegetable(s) I serve at meal times as he went for a very long time without eating any vegetables (and I mean none). I am happy he is now discovering new veggies he likes.
The number one thing I have done to get us to this point where he will try and eat different vegetables is persistence. I kept offering a small variety of vegetables over and over again. Yes, it was very frustrating to do and have many small servings go to waste, but I have to say it was worth it. I cannot say how many times I had served asparagus before I heard, “Hey mommy, I think I’ll try these ‘trees’”. He loved asparagus after his first try! I now do this with other foods as well, hoping to get the same effect. It does take many times of offering a food before he will actually try it, but it is well worth the effort.
Some other ways I have gotten Jack to eat new vegetables are pretty simple. First and foremost, I have been the role model of what I want to see him eat. If he sees me eating salads and fresh vegetables, he too, wants to have and try what I am having. I love fresh, raw vegetables. Carrots, snap peas, bell peppers are all wonderful to eat raw.
Second, is to ask for help in preparing meals. Jack loves to help in the kitchen whenever possible. He is the best salad spinner around! Sometimes all he does to help is put carrots, snap peas or another vegetable into a bowl and stirs them around. He also received for Christmas his own set of kitchen utensils for cutting fruits and vegetables on his own special apple shaped cutting board. This is a big hit! He gets to prepare a part of his own meal. Often times, I see him sneaking bites of what he is cutting too!
My third most popular way to have Jack eating vegetables is to have vegetables in plain sight or offer the vegetable first. I always have carrots and snap peas visible for all to see when you open the refrigerator. When cooking dinner, I usually have these out on the counter. Then when I hear “I’m hungry” and dinner is not ready yet, Jack can just grab whichever he wants and off he goes. Or he will sit at the table to eat and I give him his vegetables first. He is happy because he gets to eat and I am happy because he is eating his veggies! My last insight to getting kids to eat their vegetables is to give them different names. Along with Jack seeing asparagus multiple times before he tried it, we starting calling them ‘trees’. Now this sparked his interest a bit more as it was a food that somewhat resembled a tree (broccoli can be the same). Jack could use his imagination and it makes dinnertime a little more fun.
I hope this helps other parents as to what can be done to help in getting kids to eat their vegetables. I know it has made a difference for us and now Jack actually asks for different vegetables with meals.