by Shannon Rainey
Do you have a hard time getting your child to eat their veggies? Well, you are not alone. On a recent study, it was found that only 1 in 5 children eat vegetables daily.

You likely know that vegetables are important to your child(ren)’s overall health now and can help them become healthier adults in the future, so you may be asking yourself, “How do I get them to eat their veggies!?” The truth is, you can’t actually make them. You can try new things, get them involved, and be creative, but at the end of the day, it is totally up to them. It is your responsibility to offer the food, not make them eat it. That is their job.

Forcing, pressuring, and bribing kids to eat only creates more avoidance.

So, how can you offer vegetables and increase the likelihood your child(ren) might want to eat, or at least, try them?

Make it fun! – Children are more likely to participate in something if it seems fun. Make it into a taste test with different vegetables or different colors of the same vegetable, with sauce or without. You can cut the vegetables into shapes or create cute faces or pictures on their plate. You can play a guessing game where you pick a veggie from a box, take a bite, and guess the name.

Get your child involved – The more your child(ren) is involved, the more likely they are going to try it. Ask their opinion: Do you want broccoli or green beans? Do you want it plain or with sauce? Preparation: they can season, place things on a pan, or help mix food together.

Make veggies taste good – Add seasoning and sauce to help make the flavor more palatable by reducing the bitterness that some veggies may have. Also, try it with sauces that they already like.

Try veggies with things they already like – You can add vegetables to a pasta that they already like. Give them a variety of dips that they already like (ranch, hummus, ketchup, bbq, sour cream, marinara, guacamole). You can also top them with cheese, bacon, dried fruit.

Be an example and continue to offer — Children learn by watching and observing. If they don’t see you eating and enjoy- ing vegetables, they most likely will turn their nose up at them as well. They will wonder why they are getting vegetables when you aren’t and think that they must not be that good if you aren’t eating them. Model the behavior you want to see in your child(ren). Remember that children often need to be ex- posed over and over in order to even try a food, let alone, like it. Your responsibility is to create a comfortable, safe environment, offer a variety of foods, and respect their choices.