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How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat Vegetables

How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat Vegetables

Are you desperate to get your child to eat vegetables? We've come across an almost foolproof way to get broccoli off the plate and down the hatch. It's so effective that kids happily eat 80 percent more of the formerly dreaded green stuff.

"How?" you ask. And, "Will it work for my significant other?" Yep.

Many kids won't touch broccoli or other strong-flavored veggies (e.g., cauliflower, spinach, kale) because kids' taste buds (often males', too) are hypersensitive to their bitter undertones. They recoil like a slingshot. (Fortunately, so do cancer cells, which hate broccoli.)

While most people outgrow this reaction, not all do. If veggie rejection -- not a war of the wills to determine who's boss -- is the problem, try dunking the refused veggie in low-fat, no-added-sugar ranch dressing. Poof! Broccoli vanishes. In studies, it's more effective than, oh, covering ants in chocolate.

We YOU Docs are thrilled with almost anything that gets kids to eat more veggies, but we're not fans of bottled creamy dressings, which are usually loaded with sugar and saturated fats. Instead, whip up a homemade dip from no-fat yogurt seasoned to kids' or a certain adult's taste with some or lots of the following: chives, parsley, salt, pepper, mustard, walnuts, raisins, a splash of orange or lemon juice, grated orange rind, and -- if you really need it to sell it -- a bit of honey.

Big plus: Kids who get in the habit of eating fresh vegetables (fruits and nuts, too) do better in school. They're also more likely to stay slim and trim (same goes for you and you-know-who).

Try these 5 healthy food tricks that work for finicky kids and adults.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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