Can’t Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables? Change your Approach!

Dr. Praeger's Littles

Over the years, the goal of Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods has always been to provide healthy, flavorful and convenient meals. Balanced eating should not feel like a chore but a genuine delight!

Parents know it can be quite difficult to convince child to eat vegetables and fruits and vegetables instead of the processed snack foods. It can be challenging to instill in children the habit of eating snacks that are nourishing for them when there are so many addicting snacks available at most grocery stores. But there are parenting strategies that can help when it comes to instilling healthier eating habits in children.

Restrictions and Parental Pressure Don’t Work

Most parents opt for strategies that are conditional (“no dessert unless you finish your veggies”) or authoritarian (”you MUST finish your vegetables”). Diving into the literature, much of it comes down to psychology. The international Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity published a study that explored the relationship between food parenting and child snacking.

The study looks at children’s eating habits and how they are affected by parenting and parental example from various angles. Parenting is the style in which one interacts with their child; parental example is what your child will learn or observe from you. For example, if you don’t eat fruits and vegetables, it is unlikely your child will want to, either.

One of the key takeaways of the cited study is that snacking is fairly universal and comprises a large part of a child’s intake of energy. However, one of the issues with snacking is that it is often considered to be synonymous with “snack foods,” which are typically highly processed foods also known as “junk food.” Most parents don’t want their children to eat large quantities of junk food so they impose restrictions (parental style) on snacking, which often backfires.

A useful conclusion to make rests on these two important details:

  1. Children take cues for their eating preferences from their parents and the people around them
  2. Placing undue restrictions on snacking habits only makes such things more elusive and desirable, hampering children’s ability to self-regulate in the future.

How Do We Get A Child to Eat Vegetables?

A parent’s best bet at instilling good eating habits in their children involves setting an example by modeling good eating habits themselves — eating and enjoying the foods that they want their kids to enjoy, as well as discovering foods that are both healthy and delicious to have at home. It can be fun to start exploring a child’s taste buds and see what works best for them. Try adding flavor to vegetables by experimenting with different cooking styles, seasonings, herbs, sauces and more.

This is the guiding principle behind Dr. Praeger’s food products. It is our belief that food can be healthy and taste like a treat instead of a chore. Do you want to know one of the secrets behind the success of Dr. Praeger’s kid-friendly Littles ? Adults love them too! From their fun shapes to all the sneaky vegetables such as broccoli and spinach in every little bite, our Littles have been helping families foster healthy eating habits for many years.

Parenting style has a large impact on how children perceive their food as well as their willingness to try new foods. If a particular type of food is treated as a chore (you have to eat your vegetables!) then children will naturally rebel against eating them and that habit can stick well into adulthood.

If food is something that a parent and child can explore together and bond over, the whole dynamic can shift. Preferences will always exist and some children will never like broccoli or Brussel sprouts, but we believe there is a vegetable out there for everyone.

If you would like to foster healthy eating habits in your children, find products that you both can enjoy together. After all, if you wouldn’t eat it, why would they?

Questions for Us?

If you have any questions about our products, where you can locate them, or would like to give us feedback, contact Dr. Praeger’s today. We love to hear from our customers!