Julieanna April 23, 2012 4

My 3 year old daughter stopped eating all green food! If there’s even parsley or a green onion in her rice or pasta – it gets picked out and handed to me. We adopted her from China and she ate everything we got her at 23 months. She hit 24 months and switch went off! She loves whole fruits (struggling to get her to eat berries – texture I think freaks her out) but not juices. Any suggestions on how to get my daughter to eat them? I realize that I have given up offering them on her plate (because she just removes them immediately). Sigh. Any advice would be great. I can only hope that at least observing me eating lots of veggies and fruits helps her.  ~ Janet


Hi Janet~

Little ones tend to be as picky as can be and it is challenging for most parents to encourage their children to consume an adequate variety of health-promoting foods… particularly when it comes to vegetables.

The number one most important factor is role modeling. So, if she observes you eating (and enjoying) a wide assortment of fruits and veggies at every meal, she will eventually catch on and incorporate those habits. Secondly, you can try to sneak in some veggies into every meal you make her. Smoothies are great ways to surreptitiously place some neutral-tasting spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens, or dandelion greens where she may never notice…especially if you cover up the color with some powerfully-colored berries or cherries. You can add small pieces of leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, peas, lima beans, or other veggies to her pasta, in sandwiches, and on cheese-less pizzas. Other ways to boost vegetable consumption is to make a delicious dip (a hummus or other bean dip, guacamole, etc.) and provide it to her with raw veggies to dunk in there. You can also institute the “one-bite” rule, where she must try at least one bit of all the dishes you provide.

Repetition helps as kid’s picky palates adjust over time and with frequent exposure. So keep role modeling and providing healthy options. If your daughter is hungry, she will eat. Make sure your kitchen is stocked with a variety of choices that are easy to offer and try the healthiest foods first.

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  1. Eselpee April 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm -

    As someone who works with
    children who are picky eaters and even problem eaters, I would like to add that
    if caretakers try to push kids into eating when the child says “no”,
    aversions to the food can develop which are even more difficult to overcome.


    There are good recipe
    books with ideas for including veggies into meals that could be plant-based
    adapted. However be careful about being ‘sneaky’ because then kids sometimes develop
    trust issues around food. 


    Involving your child in
    fun food preparation is a good way to start. Even if s/he is not yet eating the
    creations, s/he is handing the food and enjoying it.


    Ellyn Satter (dietician
    who has PhD in psychology at
    has wonderful info about best
    practice for parents.  

  2. Leah Fink April 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm -

    May I offer a suggestion as well? Don’t make this a battle – it will backfire. We offer fresh fruits and veges at every meal. Kids (ages 7 &9) must eat 2 fresh fruits or veges FIRST at every meal. If they don’t want to, I do not press the issue under any circumstances. But they can’t eat anything else until they do the fruits or veges first. We also do the ONE bite rule – we require that they take ONE bite of all new foods. If they don’t care for them, we thank them for trying the new food and NEVER force them to finish eating it. They are welcome to eat as much fresh fruit or veges as they would like if they don’t care for what we are having for dinner. They will almost always comply with the 2 fruit or vege rule without even having to be asked. Keep offering fresh fruits and veges to your little one (my youngest is also 23 months) but DON”T make it a battle. You will lose.

  3. VeggieGrettie April 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm -

    Leah you make such great points!  I have the same rule in my household at mealtimes…veggies first.  This rule has eliminated the dinnertime veggie tantrum because they know that if they don’t eat their veggies they won’t get the rest of their meal.

    I also make sure that my children snack on fruits and vegetables (they usually opt for the fruit).

  4. VeggieGrettie April 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm -

    Ellyn your insight is very appreciated.  It is so true that we don’t want to create aversions to produce.  Kids really do like being involved in the kitchen and I too have noticed that they are much more likely to eat the produce if they are involved in the process of getting it to the dinner table.  My children enjoy gardening with me and that too have increased their willingness to try new veggies.  I also encourage parents to bring there children to their local farm for a visit for the very same reasons.

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