How We Encourage Kids to Eat Veggies

By Colleen Scholer, IIN Health Coach March 10, 2017

Almost every mom that I speak with has the same challenge, “How do I get my kids to eat healthier?” Can you relate? March is National Nutrition Month and it highlights the importance of making informed food choices and developing consistent healthy eating habits. As a health coach, I teach my clients to fill half of their kids plates at each meal with fruits and vegetables. Here are some tips to make this challenge fun: 

  • Start them young. Don’t be afraid to make some of your own baby food. Avocado was one of the first foods I gave my kids. It is soft and ready to eat right out of its natural packaging. Avocados are full of great health fats for the developing brain, antioxidants, essential nutrients and they are easy to digest. 
  • Have your child eat in front of the tv. Wait, what? First I want to say that I am an advocate for very little screen time in a child’s life. But, I will admit that I allowed my children to have a little visit with Elmo while I cooked dinner when they were little. Studies show that children (and adults too) should not eat in front of the television because they don’t pay attention to the amount that they are eating. Imagine how I felt when I discovered if I gave my children some veggies while they watched Sesame Street, the veggies disappeared? 
  • Find the joy and fun in the vegetables. During the summer months, plant a garden. You can even plant a hydroponic garden inside during the colder months. Kids are much more likely to eat vegetables and fruits that they grow themselves. We have also created fun rituals. When we are having sliced peppers, I usually have to slice at least two peppers because both of my girls, ages 8 and 11, love the top of the pepper that they call the “circle.” 
  • Spring is right around the corner and so are farmer’s markets. Let your child pick out a new vegetable each week. Then they can help mom or dad to prepare it. 
  • When you are on the go, take vegetables and fruits with you. You can keep apple slices from turning brown by dipping them in some lemon juice. Baby carrots and sugar snap peas are some of the easy “go-to” snacks that I like to pack. I have been known to pull these out at a sporting event for one of my kids and the kids who are nearby will often ask for some. You can microwave them in water and let them cool to make softer for toddlers.
  • I love making healthy fun. Pinterest is full of all kinds of great ideas if you search “healthy snacks for kids.” One of our easy favorites is to take a small cookie cutter and cut a cucumber into a shape. I was prepping veggies for a tv segment for Valentine’s Day and my girls literally asked me if they could have heart-shaped cucumbers for breakfast. 

Don’t give up. It might take ten times for a child to like a food. Over the years we have offered our kids many vegetables cooked in several different ways. Each of my three kids has their favorites. Our eldest son had a fresh fruits and vegetables program at his school when he was in kindergarten. His teacher did ask each child to at least take a “no thank you bite.” We have adopted that philosophy over the years of not forcing them to eat a particular vegetable but instead just offering fruits and vegetables often. As with anything, consistency is key.

Colleen Scholer is an Integrative Nutrition Coach who works with women to overcome stress and nurture themselves so they can lead happier and healthier lives. She is the founder and CEO of Making Healthy Fun, LLC and works with schools to teach children how to make healthy choices. For more information on a hydroponic garden, click here.