Getting your picky eater to try new foods can be a real challenge. My hope with this post is to give you some real ideas that you can try with your child to get them to try some vegetables. I know it can be frustrating, but just be patient with your child and eventually, hopefully, your picky eater will come around.
As a former non-veggie eating, turn my nose up at the sight of a green bean, gag at the smell of an English pea picky eater, I understand where your child is coming from. I was stubborn, I was NOT trying a veggie and that was that! No matter the amount of begging, punishment, or bribery it wasn’t happening.
Well, I would say that my stubbornness bit me in the butt when I got older. Come to find out, I had been missing out on all those incredible nutrients and zero calories you get from veggies. Not to mention, it was slightly embarrassing to go to a dinner party and not eat anything because the food had vegetables in it, or just pick around them. I said, “Good Lord I have a problem lol.” I needed an intervention.
Well, I am glad to say, now I have added many vegetables into my diet and actually like them! I would say the biggest impact has been finding good recipes, and not just eating them plain or straight out of a can.
So, here are my tips for getting your picky eater to try new foods.
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Check Your Recipes
When you make vegetables, are they actually something you would eat, too? Please don’t open a can of something and dump it into a bowl – yuck! Chances are most kids wouldn’t eat it that way, even if they normally do like vegetables. Cooking them different ways will bring out different flavors. I have found that roasting in the oven or grilling veggies tastes the best. We like to cut up onions, mushrooms, zucchini, squash (whatever is on hand) and add a few pats of butter and sprinkle with Tony’s seasoning. Then put them on the grill until tender. It’s so good! And our baby girl loves it, too.
Dip it, Eat it
That’s how I taught my baby girl to use a spoon, lol. But its also a good saying for eating vegetables, too. If your child is old enough to eat raw carrots, celery, or broccoli try dipping them. Try a variety of dips like ranch, french onion, cheese, or hummus.
Make a Smoothie
What do adults do when they don’t want to eat their greens? Make it into a smoothie, of course! Blend up that spinach with some frozen fruit and add a little milk or juice for a perfectly hidden vegetable smoothie.
It Looks Like it Smells Bad!
I never would try veggies as a kid just because it looked or smelled gross. If something doesn’t look appealing, a kid probably won’t go near it. I would say this also goes along with tip #1. If you have a good recipe it shouldn’t look or smell bad. It should look pretty darn yummy!
When I took a nutrition class once, I was surprised to find out that it takes children at least 7-10 tries before they will start to like a food. So don’t give up! Try different ways of making the same vegetable. Eventually, they will take to it.
…But Don’t Be Pushy
Research has shown that if you punish a child for not eating something it will have lasting effects on their eating habits. So just be persistent, but not pushy.
Mom’s Diet Matters
When I was pregnant I took a breastfeeding class and the instructor said that depending on what mom eats, baby will get a taste for different flavors through the breastmilk. So when mom eats sweets, baby will get that flavor. When mom eats vegetables, baby will get that flavor. So if you are breastfeeding, change up your diet so your little one can get used to different flavors.
Start Them On Veggies First
In that same breastfeeding class, I also learned a tip that I thought was a great idea to help your child learn to like vegetables. When its time to switch from breastfeeding or formula feeding to baby food, give them vegetables first. Let them try different kinds and get used to the taste. After they have gotten used to vegetables, then start meats, and then fruits last. If you give your child fruit first, and they discover sweet foods, they may not want to try anything else.
Mix It Up
Another tried and true method is to disguise the vegetable by either mixing it into something else (broccoli and cheese casserole), cutting into different shapes (riced cauliflower or broccoli) or try the squeeze pouches with mixed fruits and vegetables.
Get Your Picky Eater Involved
Ask your child what vegetable they would like to try. Let them look around at the grocery store and pick out what they like. Let them help you cook it in the kitchen. Let them measure or mix or stir. By letting your child be involved they might be more willing to try something they made themselves.
Just remember, if you have a picky eater don’t give up! Be patient, persistent, and creative. Hopefully instilling some good eating habits now will set them up for healthy habits later.