5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Eating Vegetables

kids and veggies

I often hear dismayed parents talk about how their children simply won’t eat their veggies. It’s not uncommon to hear “my child will only eat ______.” Usually the blank is filled with a processed food like chicken nuggets or McDonald’s french fries.

It’s true, children can be picky eaters and they do often “turn their noses up” at anything that looks unfamiliar or “weird” to them. In addition, because the Standard American Diet (SAD) is chock full of processed foods that are engineered to be highly-palatable, whole foods like vegetables tend to taste relatively bland and unappealing to the American palate.

That doesn’t mean you stop trying to get them to eat their vegetables, however. It just means that you have to find creative ways to familiarize them with a variety of foods so that they are more open to trying them. Once they are used to eating vegetables instead of processed foods, their palates will normalize and they will begin to actually enjoy eating vegetables.

I used to gag whenever I tried eating sweet potatoes. Now that I no longer eat processed foods, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite things to eat. My palate has normalized now and I can taste the full flavors of my food. It also helps that I learned how to actually cook the sweet potatoes in a more appetizing way (hint: don’t microwave them).

Everything that we eat is an acquired taste shaped by our culture and what our parents chose to feed us. As we get older, our palate continues to be shaped by what we choose to feed ourselves.

I’m happy to say that my kiddos will eat all kinds of vegetables that many kids won’t, like sweet potatoes, broccoli, broccolini, squash, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach, etc. It isn’t because they are odd. It’s because their palates are being molded by the foods they are most often exposed to.

Here’s 5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Eating Vegetables:

  1. Get them to help you in the kitchen. Children love to be helpful and they take pride in their work. Have them help prepare their food and they will absolutely try it when the food is done. Even the youngest children can help put food on a pan. Choose tasks that are developmentally and age appropriate for your child.
  2. Teach them about where their food comes from. Take them to a local farm or garden and show them how vegetables grow. Let them see it growing from the earth and teach them about how vegetables benefit our bodies. If they are able to pick some vegetables straight from the vine, they will be super excited to eat it.
  3. Take them to the farmer’s market or grocery store. Point out the different fruits and vegetables in the produce section. Kids love looking at the different shapes, sizes, and colors. Tell them how to pick ripe vegetables and let them choose which ones to purchase. Again, they will be proud of themselves and more likely to try it out when you get home.
  4. Keep it simple and tasty. You don’t have to come up with fancy recipes. Kids like simple yet tasty dishes. Roasting vegetables is always a hit in our house. You can also steam vegetables with a little bit of olive oil, and lightly season with salt, pepper, and sometimes a little bit of garlic and/or onions, depending on the vegetables you’re preparing.
  5. Indulge your child’s quirks. My kids will only eat broccoli florets, no stalks. I’m okay with that. One child likes to unfold her spinach and pick out the shallots to eat separately. I’m okay with that, too. I’m fine with their quirks as long as they eat their veggies.

I know I said these are ways to get kids excited about eating vegetables but they often work on adults too.

I would love to hear your tips or thoughts on how you make eating veggies more exciting. Please leave a comment below.

About Tiffany deSilva

Hi I’m Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPC, CHC, Founder of BrightFire Living, LLC. I am a social worker, speaker, author, certified health, wellness and lifestyle coach, certified green living coach and toxic-free consultant. I am passionate about helping women like you to detox each area of your life, safeguard your family’s health, and live life fully charged and completely lit up! I am on a mission to empower women and families who are managing food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other modern chronic health conditions to live a safe, happy, and healthy life that truly lights your fire!

Feedback & Comments:

  1. So True. I also like the idea of trying these ideas on Adults.

  2. I have to fight with my son to STOP eating his veggies, ha! I agree so much – involving your child in food selection and prep makes a huge difference!

    Also – putting out a plate of cut veggies ahead of the meal is a good strategy. If they’ll eat it passively out of hunger, they’ll be more ready to eat it as part of the meal down the road!

  3. Definitely agree that when a child learns more and gets more involved in the kitchen this definitely ups the chances of them being more open to trying new veggies. I have always been a fan of sneaking extra veggies in as well and also have done this with adults who are picky and not open to change.

  4. I like all of these suggestions and especially teaching kids about where the fresh veggies come from by taking them to a farm. Perhaps even letting them help you in a backyard garden if that is feasible. Great tips!

    • Tiffany deSilva says:

      Thanks, Lisa! I think letting them help you in a backyard garden is a great idea! If you don’t have the space, you could also show them how to grow seeds indoors or volunteer at a community garden.

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