This is the new section of The Non-Mom, where instead of providing unsolicited advice, I provide solicited (completely inexperienced) parenting advice. Once again, you’re welcome!
Dear Non- Mom,
My two kids refuse to eat vegetables. I am sick and tired of pureeing them into sauces, disguising them into things like “cauliflower pizza” crust or “zucchini fries”. Other than constant bribery what else can I do to deal with this very tiresome issue.
Well Sarah, this I think is something many parents go through. In fact, when I was little, I was so fussy about food that if I didn’t like what was put on the table, I would vomit on my plate. Yes, I could vomit on command. To add to that, I was very underweight, so my parents had me visit the doctor who threatened me with a needle in my bum if I didn’t start to eat red meat. (Which is a tactic you could use maybe?)
First thing you need to do is remind yourself that you’re in charge. You make the decisions. These kids can’t tell you what you’re going to make for dinner. You tell them. These kids today currently think they can go through life not eating vegetables and that’s no life to live. You gotta eat your carrots, they make your eyes work. They like all of us, need to be convinced that eating your vegetables is awesome. My mummo (Finnish for grandma, not because she only wore mumus around the house) had a huge hand in raising me, with lots of tricks up her sleeve to get this nuisance of a child to eat. She’d first call broccoli trees which was cool because I was eating a forest, then she let me dip them in italian salad dressing because I liked italian salad dressing, and when all else failed she’d use the ‘eat half’ trick on me. Eat half meaning at the start of the meal she’d put my plate in two portions and said I only had to eat one of them. Then once I finished the first half, she’d divide the second half into halves and trick me again. She’d do this until I’d have one bite left and then I’d have to finish that.
Another good trick is no dessert unless you eat your vegetables. Because let’s face it, the only reason to eat a meal is to be able to eat dessert afterwards, amirite? Don’t fall for “but I only have room for dessert.” This is a well-honed trick used by fussy eaters everywhere. If they have room for dessert, they have room for one more snow tree, aka cauliflower.
I think this one is going to take lots of patience and time because kids for some reason have very strong wills. You’d think that since they are so young you can get them to do whatever you want, but you can’t. You really truly can’t. It’s like they have a mind of their own or something. What’s that all about? Who would have thought?
What if also you tried giving them choices? I think kids like to have some sense of control. For example when you’re cooking say, “would you like peas and carrots or beans and carrots?” Then once they pick, then maybe they’ll be happy about it because they made the choice? Or maybe not. I bet you’ve tried all of this stuff and are at your wits end.
Actually, I think each day before you feed the monsters, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I’m the boss” over and over again. Then when you sit down at dinner, you’ll have all the confidence you need to get those kids to eat their vitamins.
What if you put on a vegetable play using similar tactics as sugary cereals. You know, they’re magically delicious? You can also make up stories about their heros who ate the vegetables and then rode a dinosaur. That could work too.
Worst case is cover all their vegetables in cheese sauce, then less cheese sauce, until they like the veggies with no cheese sauce. That’s healthy right? Jeesh.
I think Sarah, you may be on your own for this one because kids are little bastards that are great at putting up fights. So as long as your will is stronger than theirs you have a chance, but if not, grating carrots into your pasta sauce may be your only hope.