What to do when they just won’t eat their vegetables – Part 2

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This is the second in a 2-part series of articles on child eating habits. Make sure to read What to do when they just won’t eat their vegetables – Part 1!

I’ve already talked about how tough it can be to get a picky eater to give veggies a chance. And although I know that there’s no perfect solution, I’ve offered a few tips and tricks to help get even the most stubborn of kids to come around.

What to do when they just won’t eat their vegetables

The fact of the matter though is that no child is going to change overnight. It took years before my son would touch so much as a tomato, and even though these days his palate is far more advanced, it was a long road getting there.

Unfortunately, in the intervening years, he was missing valuable nutrients necessary for a healthy, rapidly growing boy. His skin was pale and he was ill on a regular basis. One year he missed so many school days that his teacher scheduled a conference to express her concern.

I was desperate, not to mention frustrated. I couldn’t wait for my son to grow up, so I turned to a number of short-term solutions. They didn’t fix the root of the problem, but they helped bring some color back to my boy’s cheeks.

Cheat. Yep, you read that right. Sometimes a mother needs to be just a little bit sneaky in order to do what needs to be done. I’ve put black beans and pureed prunes in brownies (I’m not kidding. Both work surprisingly well), pumpkin in breads and tomato sauce (extra fiber and beta-carotene), pureed cauliflower into mashed potatoes and cream sauces (Vitamin C, but use only small amounts), ground flaxseed (for valuable omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in brain development) in pancakes, chopped mushrooms in ground meat, and whole wheat pastry flour in just about any baked good. Does it always work? No. But I’ve had a surprising amount of success. My whole wheat chocolate chip cookies usually disappear before they have a chance to cool off.

Keep healthy snacks in the house. Sooner or later, your child is going to be hungry. Plenty of children don’t like having large meals, but prefer to graze throughout the day. That’s okay. In fact, there’s evidence that this might even be a healthier way of eating. Just make sure that when they do decide to eat, there are always lots of healthy snacks of different kinds available. Dried fruit, air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crisps and nuts all offer fiber and a good mix of nutrients.

Fruit is your friend. Children actually have a stronger sense of taste than adults do. This means that they tend to prefer bland, sweet foods to spicy or bitter ones. Since many vegetables fall into the latter category, kids have a natural aversion to them. Thankfully, the same vitamins and fiber can be found in Thailand’s staggering array of fruits. One mango contains more than 75 percent of your recommended Vitamin C intake, and one serving of pineapple has more 130 percent!

Supplements and fortified foods can help in a pinch. Dietary supplements are something of a fall-back, but they do get the job done. Be careful which ones you choose, however, as it’s possible to get too much of certain kinds of nutrients, and children need less than adults. Too much iron (most kids only need 7 to 10 milligrams daily) can actually be fatal, and too much Vitamin A will turn your child a very unfortunate shade of orange. Choose a well-balanced multivitamin that has a good mix of everything, and get your kids to take it with meals.

Get everyone involved. Kids love to be in charge. I found that they were much more willing to try a new or healthy food if they had made it themselves. Give your children easy tasks in the kitchen, such as stirring soup, cracking eggs, mixing batter or rolling out dough.

Photo Credit: iandeth via Compfight cc


Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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