we share our top tips!

One of the most common complaints from parents who are trying to give their children a healthy and balanced diet, is that their child won’t eat vegetables. How do you handle a fussy eater who picks out the most finely diced vegetables and refuses, point blank, to eat anything green? Here are our ways to help ensure that your children will happily eat their 5-9 portions a day. 

Dr Jess says: My daughter Amelia went through this phase at the age of two, which is a common age for picky eating to develop. She was much more stubborn when we tried to force her to eat vegetables, despite us trying every form of bribery or punishment we could think of!

We learned that gentle persuasion and consistency were key in getting her to change (it took us six long months – she is determined, like her mother!) We kept introducing different vegetables and slowly things improved. Now, we have a child of nine, who we are so proud of when she asks for more vegetables!

If you want to read more about the many health reasons why you should eat vegetables and the phenomenal qualities of antioxidant polyphenols in plant foods click here.

1. give your children some control

Children (and some adults!) don’t fully understand the importance of long-term gain. They are all about short-term satisfaction and thinking, which is why they will almost always choose a chocolate bar over an apple. Clearly, the chocolate bar tastes better! If they are new to eating vegetables, they may also struggle to understand why you are suddenly trying to force them to eat strange and bitter-tasting green things on their plate.

Telling them that it’s good for them, or that they can’t leave the table until they have eaten their vegetables rarely works and can be counterproductive, leaving them with more negative associations. They often dig in their heels so that it becomes a daily battle of wills. Instead, try these tips

  • Let them get to know vegetables better. Take them to the shop and let them get involved with picking out the vegetables you are going to eat. Have them pick the ones that they want and take them to be paid for at the till. Limit their selection to 3 or 5 if you are struggling.
  • Make whatever vegetable they have chosen your ‘vegetable of the week’ and get them involved with different ways to prepare it. If they are old enough, let them pick recipes that get them to try making it. If not, get them to choose which way to cook them (give them two options) and have them be involved in the process. 
  • For younger children, make sure…