The #1 Most Effective Way to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Broccoli in This Cheeseburger World

I’m not a perfect eater. I love baked goods, pizza, and coconut milk ice cream… but in moderation.

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I love finding new restaurants with cool food, such as this chocolate iced, rye doughnut we found out in Frederick, Maryland at Glory Doughnuts. We’d never heard of it before, but had been out this way multiple times, so after the recommendation from the pastor from the wedding we’d attended, we made it just in time! It’s always fun trying cool, new foods– if only new to us.

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But here’s the thing: I also love avocado, anything whole wheat, getting in my greens, and finding any excuse to add a vegetable to whatever I’m eating. When I was growing up, we went over to my grandparents’ house every weekend. No matter what we were having for dinner– pork roast, baked chicken, or what have you–, we always had multiple vegetables alongside it, not to mention the melon or grapefruit (oranges for kids, though!) that we’d have to whet our appetites on Sundays just before the main dish.

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I strongly believe that the reason my grandparents lived so long (my grandfather until almost 95, my grandma one week from 90!) is the direct result of how many vegetables they ate. So my goal is to pack as many into my daily routine as possible… within reason. Whether it’s a curried kale, white bean, and sweet potato soup or a veggie-filled lasagna with fresh basil from my plant, I try to eat the rainbow in some capacity on a daily basis.

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Sometimes adding in my veggies or greens is as simple as a couple of teaspoons of spirulina in a smoothie, and sometimes it’s putting together or going somewhere for a big, colorful salad. Since going vegan, my skin has never been clearer and honestly, I’m no longer cold all. of. the. time. like I was before, when I ate animal products. My energy has peaked, and I’m not crashing halfway into the afternoon because of all of the sugar I inhaled at lunch.

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Sometimes my meals are more involved, but most of the time, I like it simple. I eat a lot of veggies with hummus, sure– but that’s just because it’s delicious! 😉 A plate of oil-free fries and steamed broccoli were my go-to the last time Dave took a business trip– the easiest and best Netflix and chill dinner when all you want to do is relax. Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be healthy and delicious!

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When Dave and I went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to watch normal TV. Sounds weird, right? We literally only watch Netflix, so seeing an advertisement for a children’s fiber supplement was too weird. We had only ever seen ads for fiber supplements for adults before, so seeing it for kids seemed… odd. If you’re getting enough fiber in your everyday diet, you shouldn’t need additional. But here’s the thing: 97 percent of American adults aren’t getting enough fiber. We live in a society that pushes cheese and meat through fast food commercials between kids’ TV shows. And yet, we’re shocked when they won’t eat their vegetables! But why should they eat their broccoli when the vast majority of us won’t? There are no commercials for local farmers’ markets or healthy recipes, so there’s no appeal in going to those places.

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I was talking with someone last week who said that kids innately don’t like vegetables. This person went so far as to tell me that we shouldn’t make them eat them! As you can imagine, this appalled me, especially having come from someone who has hardly worked with kids. So as you can imagine, they’re an expert. 😉 But here’s the thing: children model their behavior after what they see. Not only that, but studies show that it also depends on what you eat whilst pregnant that influences food choices: compounds of garlic, cumin, and curry detected in the amniotic fluid of a pregnant mother have been said to influence children’s food choices and preferences as they try ‘new’ (to them) foods.

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Now, I get it: I don’t have kids, what do I know? But after a multitude of child psychology and behavioral classes, a bachelor’s degree in working with kids, around ten years of babysitting, a couple of working after school with them, three of being a camp counselor with the under ten group, having three younger brothers, and a lot of personal research, there’s one crucial thing I’ve learned about modeling behavior: kids want to be just like you. You are a role model for them, and they’re going to do what you do.

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Sure, it’s hilarious to watch kids scream profanities after we accidentally let them slip ourselves. But think about it: is that what we want kids screaming at school? Probably not. So why would we inhale bags of Cheetos and be surprised when our kids don’t want to eat carrot sticks? They aren’t coated in cheese dust, so there’s no reason to eat them!

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Ultimately, the single most thing we can do for kids is to be a positive role model. Find some way to enjoy your fruit and vegetables. Incorporate them into your daily routine, adding some into every meal in some way. My dad often had sliced banana on top of his cereal, so we did that too. He made peanut butter and banana sandwiches, pushed eating our vegetables, and has always had an enormous garden. We were lucky. I can’t tell you how appalled I was when I first realized I had to buy my own vegetables! 😉 And that, I think, is a win.

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Whether it’s what you model in the moment or what you eat while waiting for them, consider what you’re eating first. It may decide what they choose to eat for them.

(Also, side note: we’re not having kids for another five to ten years. Research/knowledge is just power! :P)

Questions for you:

What strategies do you employ to get your kids to eat their veggies?

What are some of your kids’ favorite foods?


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