A parent once asked me how to hide vegetables in foods, so that her children would eat them. 

The idea of pureeing vegetables and concealing them within children’s favorite dishes such as tacos and macaroni and cheese was made popular by books such as Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld (wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld), and The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine.

While I think it is a great idea to get more wholesome vegetables into our kid’s bellies, I’m not so sure this approach works for the long term.  First, cooking and pureeing vegetables seems like quite a bit of extra work.  Second, even Jessica Seinfeld will admit that she wants to encourage her children to enjoy eating vegetables—the kind that they can see.

So how do we motivate our children, not only to eat their veggies, but to like them as well? 

Here are some tips backed up by science… and approved by parents:

1. Set a good example

Having parents who eat vegetables and other healthy foods is perhaps the number one predictor of good eating habits in children.  Children like to imitate their parents and older siblings, so setting a good example with your own healthy eating pattern is an important first step.

2. Get Kids Invested

When children are involved in the preparation of a meal they are more enthusiastic about eating it.  Kids can help choose ingredients at the grocery store, wash vegetables, add seasonings, or even grow a small garden with the help of Mom and Dad.

3. Do a Sales Pitch

Children are very aware of their small stature, so telling them that certain foods will help them grow big and strong is a great motivator.

Still stuck?  Next I’ll have a few more ideas for you to try in Part II of How to Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables.

Continue to Part II