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How to help your child like vegetables

I love vegetables, but number 3 child hates them and has done so since he graduated from baby purées.

I last wrote about my son’s veggie-loathing ways when he was two and a half (read: 10 ways to get your child to eat vegetables). But he’s just turned four, and his shortlist of accepted vegetables is still the same: cucumber and, occasionally, raw carrot. That’s it.

My son will pick a speck of pea or sliver of courgette out of his pasta or food. And he will refuse an entire dish that’s loaded with vegetables, such as shepherd’s pie or pasta bake.

Even potatoes are out. Unless they’re in chip or waffle form.

I’ve tried sticker charts, but – naughty mummy – I let them slide. Life got in the way and I found it difficult to keep up.

It’s not that he doesn’t see vegetables – they’re served up daily as snacks and at mealtimes. But somehow I’ve been accepting his no-veg ways as the status quo.

So now I need to take firmer action. He starts school in September and at this rate, he’ll be turning down entire school dinners for the sake of a few mushrooms. This is no longer a phase. I need to Do Something.

When I heard that Organix were running a campaign to encourage children to love great food, including vegetables (#LoveGoodFood), I signed up. After all, how much easier would life be if all your kids enjoyed the same flavours?

Giving toddlers and preschoolers the chance to explore vegetables is key, according to children’s food expert Lucy Thomas.  She suggests letting your little one touch, feel and smell the vegetables – but make sure there’s no pressure to actually eat.

So on Sunday, I told my little one that we were going to have some amazingly brilliant fun with vegetables.

He was thrilled. He said, ‘Yay!’, washed his hands, pulled up a stool and was sweetly attentive.

We brought out courgette, carrot, sweetcorn kernels and green beans, and spent a very happy 10 minutes chopping, grating, sniffing, squelching and feeling. Basically, we played with vegetables – something we’ve never done before.

Learning to love vegetables 2

We grated carrot into tiny slivers, and let them run through our fingers and discussed how it felt. ‘Soft but hard too,’ he told me.

We squeezed the insides out of the sweetcorn kernels, which he found fascinating. ‘Those are the tummies, Mummy,’ he said. (I ate a few, but he didn’t fall for that old copying-mum-eat-a-vegetable trick, of course.)

We grabbed great handfuls of the grated courgette and squeezed until the juice dripped onto the chopping board, and sniffed its fresh scent. Tell me what it smells of, I asked him. ‘Chicken,’ he said.

After watching the green beans whizz to a pulp in the blender, we poured out the mush and poked around with it with our fingers. ‘Nice smell,’ he said.

Finally, we stirred all the vegetables up with flour, cheese and egg to make vegetable muffins, and baked them in the oven.

And you know what? He happily tucked in.

Now I’m not kidding myself. I know that a muffin looks like no vegetable on earth.

But still, I’m hoping that this could be a (baby) step in the right direction…

 

Organix Little Book of Good Food

Disclosure: this post has been sponsored by Organix, but all views are my own

Watch children’s food expert Lucy Thomas showing a group of toddlers how to explore and enjoy fruit and vegetables by clicking on this link to Organix’ new Love Good Food videos:  http://youtu.be/pMo-346E0-k

For advice and tips from Lucy and Dr Frankie Phillips, a registered dietitian specialising in feeding babies and toddlers, read the Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families. Download your free copy here: www.organix.com/lovegoodfood

Join the campaign. Follow #LoveGoodFood on Twitter.

 

 

 

Read more:

My child doesn’t eat enough: 8 tips for fussy eaters
My toddler doesn’t eat enough: part 2 
Homemade fish fingers for children
How to sneak vegetables into packed lunches: sweetcorn fritters

 


Comments (27)

  • Avatar

    Jessica

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    What a great idea. I wish I had that insight when Theodore was small. Although still tricky he does eat vegetables as we have the mantra “sit here as a family until everyone is done”.. but then again he is 10!
    J x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      So there’s hope for my little one when he’s older then!

  • Avatar

    Ninajcat

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    good ideas . I am sure if this was done with me with younger I would like more veg.

  • Avatar

    Erika

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    Oh what a good idea. How did they taste? I have never thought of making vegetable muffins before, but they actually really appeal to me as a savoury snack.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Veggie muffins are pretty tasty. We throw in lots of cheese to make it more palatable for him.

  • Avatar

    JuggleMum, Nadine Hill

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    My youngest is the same – absolutely refuses to eat vegetables and has done ever since he could exercise his free will and say “No”. I have tried all of the things you suggest above – playing with veg like you did, I’ve made pizzas with veg faces on them and there is still no willing agreement so I’ve had to resort to subterfuge for a quiet life. I chop very finely and hide in mash these days. At least we get no arguments and he eats it whether he realises or not!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Oh, don’t say that, Nadine! How many times did you try the playing with veg thing? And how old is he now?

  • Avatar

    Laura

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    This is great, my four year old is so fussy with food. I have tried all sorts to get veg in him, even courgette crust pizza! Apparently he’s aware that it’s not actual pizza… Doh!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Love the idea of courgette crust pizza. Just wondering if I could wing that one past my little boy…

  • Avatar

    Helen @ Witty Hoots

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    Sounds like you both had relaxed fun with the food. My daughter still objects to ‘new foods’ but will try tiny tastes on occasion!

  • Avatar

    Sarah Ebner

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    What a very, very clever thing to do. Love this post – think lots of people would find it useful. And a muffin full of veggies sounds good to me!

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, Sarah. A muffin full of veggies is pretty tasty too!

  • Avatar

    Louise

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    These sound yummy. My eldest was a really fussy eater as a toddler – I think he saw eating as something that took him away from playing – so I made lots of finger foods and hid veggies in muffins and things like that. He now is a fantastic eater and love fruit and vegetables so think the hard work paid off! x

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Thanks, Louise. How old is he now? It’s good to know that this sort of activity could pay off.

  • Avatar

    Erica Price

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    Sounds like a good start. Guess you’ll need to keep at it so that eating vegetables (that aren’t hidden) is the norm.

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Yes, I reckon we’ll have to do this pretty often.

  • Avatar

    Jen

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    I am really lucky that both my boys love vegetables. I think that growing them at home really helps. In fact Mini has just come in from the garden eating peas from the pod

    • Avatar

      healthiermummy

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      Sounds like the growing thing certainly helps. Would be thrilled to see my little boy eating peas from the pod!

  • Avatar

    zingzingtree

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    Well done on getting him to eat the muffins. I think the more children handle veg the more likely they are to try it so if he’s happy making and eating vegetable muffins at the moment it’s a step in the right direction

  • Avatar

    Michelle

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    Hiding vegetables is a good way of getting them into the kids. My son only likes a few veggies – corn, broccoli, raw carrot, and cucumber… he’s a strapping lad of 16, so I’m no longer worried!!

  • Avatar

    Rachel

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    So many good ideas and pointers. My mum just used to hide everything in mash x

  • Avatar

    Kara

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    My youngest two will eat vegetables but my 7 year old hates them with a passion. Any sign of vegetable and he physically wretches

  • Avatar

    Helen Gandy

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    This is a great post! Bet he had so much fun playing with it all :-)

  • Avatar

    Rebecca Smith

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    Very clever idea! Might have to try the same myself as my son has suddenly developed an intense dislike of all veg!

  • Avatar

    fritha

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    I definitely think that getting your kids involved in the process of making food really helps get them interested in eating it x

  • Avatar

    Laura

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    I have an incredibly fussy eater too. Mine will not touch a single vegetable and hates it if he spies even one on his plate. I used to be able to sneak mashed carrot into his mashed potato, but he got wise to that one and now won’t eat mash! I’ve tried to get him playing with food before, but he’s refused to get involved. I’ll have to give it another try.

  • Avatar

    Liz Burton

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    Despite the old adage, playing with your food is good! This looks like great fun and a brilliant way to overcome kid’s fears of certain types of food.

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