WebMD Town Hall: Veggies for Picky Eaters

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Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
Vicky on WebMD says, "My 7 year old son does not like to eat veggies." Kathleen, please help.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Well, if you want to win the battle of the broccoli, you have to be creative. One of the best ways is when kids grow vegetables, they know that it's going to taste better. They're going to at least be more inclined to do it, but you can't always have a garden. You have to be creative. You can't open up a can of peas and put them in the microwave and expect them to be delicious. I got my kids to love vegetables because I would grill them, roast them in a high temperature with a little olive oil. It makes them sweet. It makes vegetables take on a whole different life when you try to use some fresh herbs, use different seasonings. You've got to take a little time to be creative to help kids love vegetables. Their taste buds are very acute and vegetables are strong, so when they're in a mixed dish, like a soup. A soup that has lots of vegetables is a lot easier to eat those carrots in the soup than maybe just grab a carrot. Or shred up some carrots and add them with some raisins, and all of a sudden that salad makes it a little easier. Sometimes a dip. My favorite is hummus. It's made from chickpeas, which is another bean high in protein, very satisfying, and you can dip, oh, baby carrots and jicama is a favorite when kids get a chance to taste it. So parents, you have to expose them, continue to expose them, be a role model, incorporate them into dishes as much as you can, and keep trying.

Hansa Bhargava, MD
If I could just add to take your kids grocery shopping. I have two 6-year old twins and they love going grocery shopping with me because they get to pick some vegetables. They help me cook them, so they get excited about it, and when they come to the table, they actually want to try it. And don't give up if they say no a few times. Most studies have shown that it takes sometimes eight or nine times for a child to actually start liking something, so keep on trying.

Michelle Obama
And then there's the flip side, right? You've got to eat your vegetables, period, you know? You want dessert, you've got to eat your vegetables.
Our motto is
If you're full, then finish your vegetables and you can be done, but you can't ask for anything else. And if you're walking away, you definitely can't come back later and ask for cookies or chips or whatever. If you're full, you're full. I don't want to see you in the kitchen after that. And pretty soon, they're going to be hungry. So there's that. You know, you've just got to do it sometimes.

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
I think the audience liked that. If you're full, you're full, right? That's great.