Many children go through periods when they don’t like vegetables and it can be struggle to get them to eat them.
As with all issues with food it is best if we can stay calm and not resort to too many threats and rewards – we want children to feel happy and relaxed around food, not to mention taking stress off the adults
Reluctance with vegetables is often about either taste or texture so here are some ideas for both of those
Children can detect bitter tastes more easily than adults, so some veg may taste bitter to them. So while some children love sprouts, broccoli and kale, others may do better with sweeter choices such as:
- red peppers
It may also help to limit fizzy drinks, diluting juices and sugary snacks and these can distort the palate so children don’t pick up the gentler sweetness in veg
Some children are fine with the taste of vegetables but don’t like the texture or the feel in the mouth
Two options here are to offer crunchier vegetables, or to include them in a smoother soup. It might be worth a try cutting up raw veg (e.g., carrot sticks) or using them in stir fries – as well as making soup
The idea is not to hide the vegetables but to adapt the texture to your child’s preference as they get used to them.
Should I be worried?
You may have heard messages that everyone needs “5-a-day” of portions of fruit and vegetables.
This can be really hard with children who don’t like vegetables, so maybe it is more realistic to say offer as much quantity and variety as you can
And remember a “portion” for a child is smaller than for an adult – a portion is their handful not yours! So that’s about 40g to 50g for a small child and 80g for a teen or adult.
It doesn’t matter if it is fresh, frozen, canned or dried – whatever provides the taste and texture your child will accept
If you have wider concerns that your child is becoming picky about food, there is some advice on these pages to help