Family Eating: Getting Kids to Eat Their Veggies

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This is the second in a series about eating healthy as a family and the challenges that can come along with it. Click here to read the first blog entry in this series.

Getting kids to eat vegetables can be tricky, especially if it's not always been part of the mealtime routine. My 2-year old has always been served with veggies at lunch and dinner, and usually eats at least some, even if she doesn't finish them. Lucky for me she has yet to realize that everyone's grilled cheese doesn't always come with broccoli on the side. My mom raises her eyebrows at some of the veggies my daughter eats that she never served when I was growing up- like butternut squash and edamame, for example. But it's great that even at this young age, my daughter is learning about a wide variety of foods that can be tasty and healthy at the same time.

Having trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies? One strategy might be to give them cool names. In a new study, 4-year olds were given regular carrots for lunch. Then on other days they were given the same carrots, but they were called "X-Ray Vision Carrots". They ate twice as many carrots on the days when the food had a cool name. Researchers say it makes food more fun for kids and then they continue eating more, even after parents stop using the names.

I know some parents who "sneak" veggies into their children's food by adding purees to spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, or other main dishes where they might not be expected. I have Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook "Deceptively Delicious" and have made a number of good recipes from it. I don't necessarily use it to sneak veggies into my family's meals, but rather just to cook things that are a little healthier.

How do you feel about sneaking veggies into your kids' diet? Do you think it's better to be upfront with what they are eating in the hopes they will learn to enjoy it? Or is that sometimes the only way you can get them to eat vegetables, so it's better than nothing?

Do you have any good strategies for getting your kids to eat vegetables? Any good recipes you'd like to share?