How To Persuade Your Kids To Eat Vegetables Using Books
How Can I Get My Kidlets To Eat Greens
Vegetables are good and healthy, right? After all, they are one of the five major food groups: Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy and Chocolate. But try to convince most children the importance of a well-balanced diet and it becomes something akin to getting around a wall, like the Great Wall of China!
Earlier on, I used a rule of thumb with my children. You must try everything served at the table, and you have to try as much as your age. This put an end to the ‚Do I like it?, or ‚I don‘t like it, or want it!‘ conversations. The 3-year-old would get three beans, the 5-year-old, five. If they wanted more, they were welcomed to it.
Still, there were seasons of noncompliance. You coddle, you cajole, you sing your little vegetable songs, play airplane and are met with closure, resistance, and defiance. But they need these veggies, you reason to your adult self, they must eat them in order to grow healthy and strong. Right? Riiighhhttt???
Veggie Fare Tops King’s Cuisine
Biblically speaking, there is a strong argument here. Take the story of Daniel. No, not the one about the lion’s den, God did NOT provide the lions with vegetables so Daniel was not eaten. The one I refer to is not long after Daniel and his friends were taken into captivity and trained to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel made this request, „Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.“
From an exegetical view, this is not a pure vegetarian argument, nor a religious dietary restriction. It’s not really even an argument for eating vegetables, but your kids don’t need to be bothered by theology at this stage of the game. In the story, the proof lies in the pudding, or rather the clincher lies in the cauliflower. Daniel and his friends were better off with their self-imposed diet. Read for yourself.
„At the end of ten days, it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.“
I‘d say that‘s a pretty good argument for the Veggie team. Your kids might not agree, or they may need more convincing.
Too Bad Popeye Ain‘t Around Anymore
Ah, those were the days of positive role models. Saturday cartoons and a rough and rugged sailor man who gained superman strength to fight the baddies by eating a can of spinach!
But what devices do we have as parents today? Our imagination‘s the limit and our bookshelf lecture lends itself as ammunition of positive reinforcement.
Many years ago, books like Der Struwwelpeter from Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, with the tale of Suppen-Kasper might have been in vogue for shaping young minds to eat what was placed before them. But for today’s sensitive and savvy child, the storyline is a bit drastic.
Of course, if your child isn‘t too sensitive and has an odd sense of humor, or if you want to run it past older children, you can try out a bit of Roald Dahl on them. He doesn‘t disappoint the pro-Vegetable party with his Snozzcumber recipe from Revolting Recipes. And your child may take an avaricious liking to beans after reading Jack and the Beanstalk, ala Revolting Rhymes from the Roald Dahl Treasury.
Of Salad Patches and Silly Names
For the gentler in spirit, Tales of Peter Rabbit, and Benjamin Bunny, by Beatrix Potter. Granted, our dear little bunnies get into all sorts of trouble, including over-indulging on stolen veggies, resulting in tummy trouble. Oh dear! However, the garden references, the illustrations, and star role of vegetables are delightful.
This book can be an excellent opportunity to engage children in planting and growing their own vegetables for food. Watching the growth progress is educational, and then they can partake in the meal that Peter and Benjamin ate.
More clever for younger crowds is I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (Charlie and Lola) written by Lauren Child. With Charlie using imaginative names to help his picky eater sister overcome her aversions. What interesting names can your kids create for their own vegetable nemeses?
Do They Gandalf?
I used a similar tactic to get my children to eat their vegetables. J.R.R. Tolkien created an immense saga peopled with Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Rangers, Wizards, and Men. Middle Earth was rich with its own towns, provinces, and banners.
And I loved the stories of The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings. So I infected my children with my enthusiasm. Thus, one afternoon, I introduced them to the ‚Green Trees of Mirkwood, and the White Trees of Gondor‘. Since that time at the tender age of 3 and 5 years old, they have eaten broccoli and cauliflower with gusto.
To be quite honest, it doesn‘t work for everything. Now at ages 18 and 20, I am still dealing with bits picked out of sauces. But they‘re adults and can cultivate their own taste. It doesn‘t stop me from cooking with Kale or adding cabbage or beets to a stew.
I‘m still learning to like ‚new‘ vegetables as well. However, there is one thing for certain. They will never have the luxury of experiencing brussels sprouts or lima beans in this home. I‘ll eat ‘em, but by golly, I won‘t make ‘em.
Sandra Lynn Kern
12 Jan 2018
I am writing this as part of a 31 Day writing challenge by Jeff Goins. You can read my Day 10 blog post about writing under this title: Collecting and Hoarding Words