How I {FINALLY} Got My Kids to Eat Vegetables

When my kids were babies, they ate all organic, {mostly} homemade baby food. Not only did they eat it, they ate ALL of it. Including the vegetables. Yes, it was quite lonely up on my ivory tower wearing my “Super Mom” crown, but hey, somebody had to be queen. Might as well be me. 

Fast forward to their lives now at 6 and 4, and their food pyramid consists of French fries, dinosaur nuggets, Go-Gurt, and chocolate milk. Long gone are the days of pureed sweet potatoes and bananas slurped down from a pouch. No longer are they so excited to drink a blueberry/spinach/strawberry smoothie. Nope. Give them a Costco-sized box of goldfish crackers and they’re good.

With flu/coronavirus/the next new pandemic circulating everywhere, I wanted to get some more vitamins in my kids to (hopefully) keep the germs at bay and my kids’ health on the up and up. They aren’t completely devoid of nutritious food. They still like bananas, and as long as you give them a spoonful of peanut butter, those kids will demolish some apple slices. But vegetables? You’ve got a better chance of seeing Blippi win an Oscar than seeing my kid happily eat broccoli. 

I tried anything and everything you can think of to get my kids to eat vegetables.  

I put spinach into their banana-berry smoothies…

“I don’t like green smoothies.” 

I sneakily shaved carrots into their PB&Js…

“Mommy, why is my sammich crunchy?!” 

I even baked zucchini into muffins…

“This tastes weird.” 

I bribed. I begged. I yelled. I put them in time out. Finally – at the end of my rope – I had an epiphany.

Stop being so controlling. 

Something I’ve learned through my six years as a mom is this: kids like to feel in control. They like to make their own decisions. They want and need to feel the freedom to make choices (within a controlled environment–I’m not advocating you let your kid drive your car because he “wants to”. THAT will get you on the six o’clock news). Once I realized that they needed to feel in control and have the ability to try vegetables of their own accord, it was incredibly freeing. 

The next day, I was prepping veggies for minestrone soup in the slow cooker. I accidentally peeled too many carrots so I made them into bite-sized sticks, placed them in a bowl, and set them on the counter. I went about my day.

As I was folding laundry, my daughter came into my bedroom WITH A CARROT STICK HANGING OUT OF HER MOUTH. 

Determined to not spook her like a baby deer, I completely ignored it. 

“Hey, Mommy! *chomp, chomp*” 

“Hey babe…” *avoiding looking at the carrot* 

“These things are good! Thanks for leaving them out!” 

“You’re welcome!” *internally dancing as she walks out the room*  

It worked. I could not believe it actually worked. Letting go of my expectations and letting my child make her own choices actually worked. 

Why had I stressed myself out so much? Why had I put myself through the gauntlet of food battles when I could have just left out a bowl of carrot sticks and watched my child happily munch as she told me all about what she was building in Minecraft? Sigh. Live and learn. 

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Jessica is a SAHM who works part-time during the school year for her church's MDO program. She's married to her preschool sweetheart (you read that right!) and has two kids, Hermione (4) and Indiana (2). She has a BA in Journalism from UCO and worked for five years as a ghostwriter for a publishing company. In her "free time", Jessica loves to run, watch sci-fi, and write for her personal blog:!


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