11 Tried and True Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Veggies

11 Tips From a Mama of 8 to Get Kids to Eat Veggies

One poor mama asked me how to get her kids to eat their vegetables. She has a child that gags and cannot swallow his veggies. Poor guy.

Many people will judge. I might have after my first four girls, who ate their vegetables enthusiastically, but now I eat my veggies with a side of humble pie! Here’s why:

We went through the whole gag issue with one of our seven, our boy. He would gag with certain veggies in his mouth. If required to swallow, it would come back up. Mmm…that’s appetizing. I don’t think anyone watching the scene firsthand could say it was an obedience issue. He physically couldn’t get them down, and he was a very obedient child. We kept offering the veggies and now he inhales them all.

Here is what we did to make veggies a readily accepted part of my son’s diet.

11 Tried and True Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Veggies

1–Frozen peas and green beans are like ice cream bonbons. Okay, they’re totally not, but they’re fun to eat if your kids are beyond the choking stage.

2–Smoothies are God’s alternative to dinner table battles and McDonald’s drive-throughs. Throw in a tiny bit of veggie and gradually increase the amount.

3–I often opted for heavily veggie-based dishes instead of stand-alone veggies. Somehow, veggies are easier to eat when they’re in a different form–casseroles, veggie soup, tomato soup, stir-fry, pasta sauce, pies, even lasagna. Chop small or blend, you sneaky mama.

4–I still add veggies to as many dishes as possible, and then tell my son what he ate only after he ate them and liked them. That way he knows he has tried and enjoyed that veggie. Parsnip-mashed potatoes comes to mind. I also sneak onions into everything, and he love-hates onions. (Loves them until he finds out he just ate an onion, at which point everything is gross, although yesterday he realized he loves French onion soup.)

Help Your Kids Eat Their Veggies!
This pasty is sneaky–it has yummy veggies inside!

5–Pretty bowls of veggies set out as daily snacks are enjoyed by everyone, and he dives right in with the rest. Dip makes it more fun, but I only use that as a treat.

6–We cut out as much processed foods as possible (in our case, all the processed food) both to not give him an alternative snack and to help his health and tastes. This is particularly effective if the gag reflex is from a developing (or passing) allergy issue.

7–I kindly and respectfully asked my hubby, who sits by him at every meal and was admittedly not raised on veggies, to stop making remarks about how disgusting veggies are and to quit leaving them on his plate. Setting a good example is huge. Huge-huge!

8–We planted a garden together and ate the goods.

11 Tips to Get Kids to Eat Veggies
Gathering rhubarb from a friend’s garden.

9–Sometimes he would be my shopping buddy, and I would let him pick out whatever he wanted to try from the grocery store. We rotated kids, but it was new and exciting, so they tried it.

10–We required him to try one bite of the veggie dish, or one piece (like one pea or bean) for each year of his age. I apologize in advance, my dear future daughter-in-law, if you have to count out 42 beans for him. I really tried.

11–We held off on the foods that made him gag. Eventually, we reintroduced them and he was totally fine with them. It is possible that it’s a sensitivity issue.

Here’s a ray of hope for you mamas struggling to get veggies into your children (or hubby): When my gagger son (now 9) was six, he talked my veggie-phobic husband into trying Brussels sprouts, and they both liked them. There is hope! At six he was my least creative eater, but at 9 he loves his veggies and will eat almost anything, especially mushrooms.

11 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Veggies
That’s him in the background, happily munching on an “edible weed” from a friend’s back yard.

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies?

4 thoughts on “11 Tried and True Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Veggies”

  1. Thanks for the insightful post. I never considered it could be an allergy or food intolerance. My youngest used to do the same thing when I gave him dairy products when he was very young – finally figured out he was completely lactose intolerant. Thankfully over time this is much better with gut healing and now using raw dairy. So I will pay more attention when says they are gross and literally starts gagging. So glad you are back, I really enjoy your writing!

    1. I completely understand what you mean! I have one who won’t eat eggs, and I recall from her early days that she had a sensitivity to them. I think it is something her little body knows she just can’t tolerate right now.

      I’m happy you have helped heal your son–such a blessing! What approach did you use? We have a daughter with Crohn’s who is on GAPS/SCD, and the rest of us try to stay as close as possible to that, but with healthy grains (think Nourishing Traditions). It’s tough on the road, but our daughter does great!

      Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

      1. Christy

        It’s been a lot of trial and error and we are still working on it. I removed pretty much all dairy from his diet from age of 3-8, especially milk. Of course this was before I knew about raw milk and cheese and fermented foods. I gave him a lot of probiotics because I really think he has yeast overgrowth since he is a sugar junkie. He sneaks it and can easily plow through a huge bowl of ice cream or any junk food then won’t eat real food. So like I said it’s a work on progress. He is now 11 and is having sinus and allergy infections and strep 2 times over this school year. Summer is coming up and we’ve already discussed eliminating sugar ( which could get ugly ), wheat products, and go back to all raw dairy to let his immune system rest and build back up. I personally had many of the same issues and have just now (after 10 years) been able to get a lot of it under control. I feel for your daughter and I think GAPS is a great start – I did this about 3 years ago and it helped so much. Just move slow with it and use it as a teaching tool for your kids to understand what is going on. I would offer this from my own experience with severe digestive issues, do not eliminate wheat/gluten/dairy forever. Try to add it back in after the 12-18 month period, I ended up being very deficient in certain nutrients because I went a little overboard on the elimination protocol. I wish you and your family all the best.

        1. Thank you, Leslie. I agree with not eliminating items permanently unless it’s absolutely necessary. My prayers are with you on your journey.

Leave a Reply