Q: My child doesn’t like eating vegetables. What should I do?
What a child eats and doesn’t eat is a source of great stress for most parents. The truth is, we have very little control over how much our children eat of any one thing. We do, however, have control over what we offer them.
Most humans are drawn to carbohydrates, and kids are no exception. If we allow kids to fill up on juice, milk, and crackers, they may forego all other foods—including vegetables that provide important vitamins and minerals and foods rich in iron and protein.
We must resist the urge to give them significant amounts of these less-healthy options just so we can see them eat. Instead, I recommend that my families offer the healthy foods that they themselves are eating because, after all, the most important thing that parents can do to instill healthy habits is to model them.
Personally, I have found that the more attention I pay to enjoying my food and the less attention I pay to what my children are eating of the healthy options I have offered, the more curious and daring they are with food. We must trust the truism that it is a rare child who will truly starve themselves. Kids who get a lot of attention for not eating tend to dig in their heels, and their refusals can become increasingly dramatic. I encourage you to avoid the drama and enjoy your food!
Oh yeah, and avoid the “p” word, i.e. “picky.” Kids will own the labels we give them. If you raise “vegetable lovers” they will likely love vegetables.
—Dr. Stacy Drasen, pediatrician at Vancouver Clinic