I guess I’ve really become a mom now, since the highlight of my day yesterday was getting my six year-old to eat both fruit and vegetables at dinner. While my wife worries that they will starve to death from not eating any food, I obsess that I can’t get them to eat the right things. After years of trying, I can claim success with my daughter who now snacks on red peppers and regularly eats her broccoli. My boy, on the other hand, just shakes his head when forced to consider a banana, grape or tomato. However, things may be changing. Here’s what I’m doing. It’s not a miracle, and some you’ve heard before, but it bears repeating. We dads need a to-do list to keep this stuff front and center in the war on keeping our kids healthy and growing.
1. Don’t give up. Once you do, they might as well eat Halloween candy all year. It’s your job to have the discipline to put the stuff out there, and show them new things. You will find things eventually they will like, if only for one meal.
2. Use a blender. I was amazed last night when my boy who hates berries and bananas, was suddenly drinking down big portions of both through a straw. It wasn’t hard to make, with just frozen berries, bananas, yogurt and OJ, and there was nothing bad for him in the drink.
3. Don’t boil your vegetables and don’t nuke them into a soggy mess. No one likes vegetables this way. If you have to use butter or stir-fry them, that’s a happy alternative.
4. Make a soup. It’s amazing what kids will eat when it’s in a soup. If your kids still recognize the big bits, again, get out the blender.
5. Roast vegetables. Lots of vegetables are good tossed in olive oil and thrown in the oven for 20-30 minutes on 400+ degrees. I was shocked when my kids ate kale (yes, kale!) this way with salt and pepper, like a snack food.
6. Have them grow it, or cook it. Kids will eat stuff they’ve had their hand in. Try it and see.
7. Be patient. Sometimes, we’ll sit at the table another half hour while everyone eats vegetables. I only do this with vegetables I know they like, and I’ll always warm things up if they’ve gotten cold. We’ve tried to cut back on the yelling and I never say, “I’m not running a cafeteria here.” We now know this is a passing phase, and we just have to make sure they get good stuff in them while they are going through it.
- Personal Health: Learning to Love Veggies: Readers Weigh In (nytimes.com)
- How To Get Kids to Eat Vegetables (pinkbananaworld.com)
- The Truth About Kale: Nutrition, Recipe Ideas, and More (webmd.com)