Dinner Dilemma Part 2: Getting those Veggies on the Table (and into Bellies)

Dinner Dilemma Part 2: Getting those Veggies on the Table (and into Bellies)

You steamed/roasted/grilled (basically anything but boiled, right?) those beautiful carrots, asparagus, even sweet potatoes.  You plated them lovingly alongside (or even, gasp, mixed with!) your kids favorite protein (chicken, shrimp, tofu) and even a cozy carb like rice, naan bread or pasta.  You sit and watch anxiously as they rearrange their plates, even picking out one teeny tiny onion speck you’d assumed they’d never see (eagle eyes…).  And the plates return to the kitchen with enough vegetables to save for tomorrow’s dinner ;(

Whether you were a card carrying member of the “Clean Plate Club” as a kid yourself, the general consensus now is that forcing our kids to eat everything they’re served usually backfires.  So instead, how do we foster a love, or at least not a total disdain, of a balanced meal?  

  • Try the “Thank You” Taste.  Many families have some variation on this theme, but we like to affirm it in the positive by adding in a bit of education alongside the manners component.  Rather than adding the “No” as in, “No, I don’t like it after taking a bite so small there’s no way I even tasted it,” having kids say “Thank You” for whatever the food does for their body helps them understand why even if a particular food isn’t their fav, their body may need it to function optimally. 

  • Timing is Everything (or, Tell a Little White Lie). Here’s a fun hack we picked up reading Emily Oster’s awesome new book, The Family Firm: bring the vegetable portion of the meal to the table first, telling them the main course “isn’t ready yet” or “needs to cool down.”  This type of coursing out of the meal helps tamp down the “is it time to eat yet?” whining and gets the good stuff into hungry bellies before other options tempt selective eaters.

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