“How do I get my child to eat more vegetables?!?!”

March is National Nutrition Month!  To celebrate, we will be posting some very fun and informative blogs throughout March.  To kick it off, we are starting with one of the questions I get asked most, “How do I get my child to eat more vegetables?!?!”

Many parents struggle with mealtimes. Not only to get their children to eat, but getting them to eat right.  Current recommendations state kids should get at least 5 fruit and vegetable servings each day.  To increase vegetables in children’s diets, changing the texture, flavor, and appearance can help transform them from garden grazers to carrot cravers in no time!

Many kids squirm at the sight of broccoli or peas on their plate. However, by pureeing those vitamin packed veggies and mixing them into a sauce, they become more significantly appealing.

Try grilling red or orange peppers and mixing them into your ground turkey or beef next time you make burgers.  Or chop grilled eggplant or zucchini into your next pasta dish. Experiment with different cooking methods to increase acceptance of veggies.

Concealing vegetables by mixing them into foods your kids already prefer can get them over the hump and have them yearning for more garden greens.  Mix steamed cauliflower into your kid’s macaroni and cheese; the color of cauliflower can blend right into the noodles.

Most importantly, talk to your kids about nutrition. Get them involved with the grocery shopping and preparation of meals. Teach them where food comes from.  Sometimes the simple act of involvement can motivate them to try new things.

My child is a picky eater, how do I get him/her to try new foods?

Picky eating is one of the most common issues in pediatric nutrition. As children grow and learn, they start exercising their independence and testing the limits of their parents’ authority.  However, it is important for parents to always stay in control.

The parent’s job is to present foods in an appealing way and in a form the child can handle, and to help children be successful with eating. It is important that parent’s do not pressure a child to eat. This can backfire and cause mealtime disasters.

The child’s job is to decide how much to eat.  Nothing more.

Parents should avoid short order cooking, and should have a plan for what is being served and stick to it.  Make meals fun. Eat together to promote acceptance of foods; if your child sees you eating your greens they will more likely enjoy them.  Avoid a power struggle over food. Relax and take the time to enjoy the special mealtime with your child.

Lara Field MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Specialist in Pediatrics with over a decade of clinical and client experience. When she’s not actively working to keep her clients healthy, she’s a busy mother of two active boys and loves testing new recipes in her kitchen. Follow her on Instagram to see her recipe ideas, product suggestions, and see how she manages a healthy lifestyle @larafield.