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My child won’t eat vegetables, HELP!

Dear Obsessive Mother's Guide to Parenting,

         I can't remember the last time I got my son to eat a vegetable.  We've tried everything from threats to bribery and still he refuses.  I want him to grow up healthy and I feel like a total failure that I can't get him to do this simple thing.  Help!


Marcia from Tomball

Dear Marcia,

          Amen, sister.  Vegetables, that daunting leafy green stuff on our plates that the kids run from.  How can you change his mind?  Let's talk age appropriate games and then learning opportunities along with certain tips to skip all together.  


1 – 2 – 3 – BITE.  You have a carrot on your fork and he has one on his.  On the count of three, you bite together.  Someone judges who got the bite into their mouths faster.  (Watch the choking hazard of eating too quickly with a bite too big.)

Treasure hunt for the veggies and his reward is dessert.  Hide the broccoli under his potatoes, or in a bowl in the other room and let him hunt for it.  When he comes back mission-accomplished, then he gets a reward.  

The purpose of the game is: IF he is only refusing veggies to manipulate you and exert some control over the situation, the games and positive attention is FAR more fun and he'll want to play.

(If there is an older sibling who will play along too, this is a great chance for peer pressure to work positively.)

Second Tip: Knowledge.  Kids want to know WHY they must do something.  Learn all about the human body and how vitamins in food positively effects them.  Study what scurvy is and how a lack of vitamins can damage the body.  Then hit the grocery store.  Show him all the different kinds of vegetables and have him pick any that look interesting.  Study cooking methods, ex: with garlic, with olive oil… and experiment on the vegetables he chose to find ones he likes.  (Remember the scene in "Runaway Bride" where Julia Roberts makes all different kinds of eggs until she finds the kind she likes? Similar idea.)  He leads this.  He cooks along side you.  He is the ultimate taste tester and judge.  Watch some "Chopped" on Food Network and Hulu Plus to get him inspired by the judges.  

You may have heard the tip or seen the commercial suggesting ranch dressing.  Time for us to beg.  Please, please please SKIP the ranch dressing.  2 Tablespoons is almost 16 grams of fat and almost 300mg of sodium.  No amount of vegetables can overcome the damage you are doing by drowning them in that junk.

Marcia, best of luck on your vegetable adventure.  We applaud your determination to have your child eat healthy foods.  You have no idea how much it pains us to see parents who don't even try.  (French fries is not a vegetable folks.)  Keep us posted on your progress and as always, happy Obsessive Parenting!

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