Getting kids to consume the dreaded vegetable can be a frustrating
task for the concerned parent or grandparent. As you've learned,
however, an inadequate diet can result in uncomfortable symptoms. In
the long term, diets low in vegetable intake may lead to an increased
risk for a variety of cancers. There's no question that vegetables are
our friends - but how's a person to convince the young'uns?
While your older grandchild may have accepted vegetables with little
fuss, every child's tastes are different and may require some creative
adaptation. Luckily, the web offers dozens of tips for incorporating
vegetables into a stubborn child's diet. Many incorporate a healthy
dose of disguise, with vegetables marching incognito from plate to
mouth. Try any or all of the following, and see if they don't make the
wee one a vegetable convert.
1. Disguise, disguise, disguise. Even for adults like myself, sauces
are the stuff that makes the medicine go down. Serve broccoli with
cheese sauce, or chop it up small and add it to every self-respecting
kid's favorite meal, macaroni and cheese. You can also sneak grated
carrot and zucchini into meatloaf and casseroles; add carrots or corn
to chicken noodle soup. Puree carrots, broccoli and peas with tomato
sauce for pasta. Sneak in a generous layer of vegetables between the
crust and the cheese on a pizza.
2. Go for the crunch. Serve raw vegetables with low-fat dip; baby
carrots and broccoli florets are just the right size for little hands.
Better yet, always keep pre-cut carrot and celery sticks in the fridge
for easy access. Most kids prefer the crunch of raw vegetables to
3. Serve all foods separately (e.g. don't mix peas and carrots). Most
kids prefer their vegetables straight so they know what they're
getting. Peas and carrots have one great thing in common, however -
they're colorful, and kids will choose colorful over blah any day.
When preparing their plate, think aesthetically!
4. Let them grow it. In my research, I came across accounts of several
spurned store-bought veggies but gobbled them up when they'd grown
them themselves. With a little grown-up help a child can create a
garden to be proud of.
5. Delegate. Let the kids do some of the prep work, like shelling peas
and husking corn. They'll be more interested in a meal they've helped
to prepare, and they enjoy the simple tactile pleasure of handling
food. They're also eager to be involved in the selection process - ask
for their input at the market or produce section.
6. Try sweeter vegetables like yams and carrots -- they're less scary
to small tastebuds than stronger-tasting veg like cabbage and turnips.
Oven-baked squash is phenomenal - split it in half, spread with butter
and brown sugar and broil till tender.
7. Make it a game -- give the food a funny name or arrange it into
faces or designs.
8. Try canned or frozen -- one three-year old wouldn't eat raw or
cooked vegetables to save her life, but ate frozen peas by the
9. It might seem like common sense, but present the vegetables when
the child is hungry -- even vegetables look good to an empty stomach.
Dr. Marilyn Heins offers the following advice on this subject at
"My suggestions for parents of limited-nutrition-kids: Don't coax,
cajole, bribe, nag, yell, punish or do anything else that takes away
the child's control over his own eating. Don't even sigh deeply or
tell others how awful your child's eating habits are. Back off and
acknowledge that the days of feeding this child are long gone. The
child feeds himself and chooses what to eat.
Grandparents, too, should avoid food fights with either the child or
parents. If the limited-eater is of normal height and weight and
neither the doctor or parents are concerned, relax.
One permissible thing a parent or grandparent can do is show the kid a
food pyramid on a cracker box or in a nutrition book. It says that
everybody should have 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4
servings of fruit every day. Be sure to point out how small a serving
is--a big glass of juice in the morning is 2 servings and a small
apple or banana is one serving."
Here's a recipe you might like to try, from "Tips to Get Children to
Eat Their Vegetables" at
Crisp lettuce leaf
½ peeled banana
1 slice canned pineapple
½ maraschino cherry
Place lettuce on salad plate. Build salad with: Launching pad,
pineapple on lettuce; rocket, banana in center of pineapple slice;
nose cone, cherry placed on top of banana.
Once your granddaughter incorporates more fibre into her diet, the
bulk should take care of the diarrhea issue. However, be sure not to
rush the transition --too-rapid dietary changes can make the diarrhea
worse. If you sneak it in gradually, her body should adjust nicely.
Finally, don't despair -- experts say it make take up to 8
introductions for a child to accept a vegetable.
Great ideas to get grandchildren to eat right
Tips to Get Children to Eat Their Vegetables
Brochure: How to get your children to eat more fruits and vegetables
Veg: get your children to eat vegetables
Clever ways parents get children to eat their vegetables
Family Fun: Coaxing Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Also check out:
15 ways to get your kids to eat better
Best of luck!