How to Trick Your Kids Into Eating Meat & Veggies

By Laura Agadoni
Children who help with food preparation are more likely to eat a variety of foods.
Children who help with food preparation are more likely to eat a variety of foods.

If you have a kid who only wants to eat french fries, pasta with butter, cheese and cookies, you are not alone. Those foods seem to be the favorites of picky eaters. Many children are afraid to eat new foods, especially when they are between 2 and 5 years. Though you should never force feed your child, you can try some tricks to get your fussy one to try eating meats, fruits and vegetables.

Pretend you prefer the broccoli or bit of roast beef on your plate to the baked potato with cheese even if you don't. If you make a big deal about how good the broccoli is and show your excitement, your little one might be more inclined to be excited about it, too. PBS reported that toddlers' food choices mimic their moms'. The younger a child is when you try this the better, so start when your child is 2 to 3 years old.

Play the guessing game, which turns trying new foods into a fun activity. Put five to 10 different foods in separate bowls. Cut all the foods into small bites. Some bowls should contain foods your child already likes, such as cut up french fries or cookie pieces. The other bowls should contain new foods you want your child to try, such as peas or pieces of chicken. Blindfold your child, put a piece of food on a spoon and let him taste the food. Your child needs to guess what the food is. If he is correct, he gets a point. If he gets a certain number of points, he wins some sort of prize. Then, let him blindfold you so you can guess.

Sneak vegetables into foods your child already likes. Put frozen spinach into a macaroni and cheese casserole. Make a cheese quesadilla with shredded beef or chicken mixed in. Or put carrot and zucchini shavings in muffins. Once your child develops a taste for meats and vegetables hidden in more friendly foods, he might eat the meats and vegetables even when you don't hide them.

Involve your child in the food preparation process. This can begin with growing a backyard garden together and letting your child pick the foods when they are ready. When you cook dinner, involve your child in shredding lettuce leaves for salad or mixing ingredients in a bowl. When children are involved in making meals, they are more likely to try them.


Don't offer dessert as a reward for eating meat, fruit or vegetables. That signals healthy foods are something a person must endure to get to the good stuff. Instead, act as if salads or other healthy foods are the "good stuff."


Don't get into power struggles over food because if you lose the battle, it will be even more difficult to get your child to eat healthy foods later. Don't bribe or command your child to eat, either. That can cause unnecessary anxiety and frustration over meals, according to

About the Author

Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.