If there was a magic formula or silver bullet to get kids to eat healthy, the topic would no longer make the headlines of parenting magazines. Kids in homes across the country would be eating broccoli and brussels sprouts with a smile on their face.
But there is no magic formula. No silver bullet. No quick and easy fix.
I hear from many parents that one of the things they value in this site are the new tips, tricks and ideas for getting through the various meal-related challenges they face (which, by the way, is exactly why we started the site!). I’m absolutely committed to bringing you all new ideas as I hunt them down.
During my searching, I often come across interesting new theories or research to “help” us out. Sometimes there’s really valuable nuggets…sometimes there isn’t.
Recently I came across this study that revealed: the solution to get kids to eat their vegetables is as simple as offering a dip with the veggies. They gave kids broccoli with a dip at snack time and apparently the magic followed.
Now, I don’t know how many children in the world do not like vegetables but I’m pretty confident that most parents have tried this trick, right? This seems like almost a no brainer once you start going down the road of seriously trying to get a picky eater to try new veggies.
Many of us have found that ranch dip loses its appeal. It gets old and doesn’t go with everything. Hummus isn’t always a big hit. And not all vegetables taste good dipped. We need more tricks up our sleeves because there are 365 days in a year that our kiddos should be eating a vegetable or two.
So, in addition to the veggie dip, here are six real-world-proven techniques that I’ve actually seen work to get even the pickiest eaters to try new vegetables:
- Serve them first. Red bell peppers dipped in hummus (dip!) is a great appetizer when kiddos are pulling on your pants because they’re starving. Let them eat, just make it a veggie!
- Get away from the steamer. Seriously, do you even like steamed veggies? I don’t so I can’t expect my kids to. Roasted vegetables with some salt and olive oil or grilled zucchini are much tastier alternatives.
- Get creative. Sometimes you need to pull out the butterfly bell peppers or grape wands. I get it. We do what it takes.
- Mix it in. Will your child eat peas, corn and those little carrot pieces in fried rice? Or tomatoes in pasta sauce? Great! When they refuse them later, remind them how much they liked them in those dishes. (ps. I see this different from hiding veggies because you’re going to let them know what they’re eating, you’re just making it more appealing)
- Change the texture. Sometimes kids honestly don’t like the way the food feels in their mouth. It’s legit. So try another method of cooking: puree into a soup, steam to soften up crunchy veggies (just add some flavor too!) or leave them crunchy if that helps.
- Don’t serve it to them. Serve dinner family style with everything in the middle. Serve yourself a big serving of visually appealing vegetables like roasted red potatoes with rosemary, or broccoli salad with raisins and shredded carrots. Don’t serve the kids any and see if they want what you’re having.
There are more ideas here that you’ll find in our Top 10 Ways to Win Over Picky Eaters. And I know that many of you have found success and hope you’ll share your tips with the rest of us!