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The Great Vegetable Lie

Disclaimer: Elise Ho, aka “Dr. Ho” is a Holistic Health & Life Coach. Dr. Ho is NOT a medical doctor, licensed therapist, lawyer, or a bevy of other things. Products or services that Dr. Ho believes in are the only ones that she recommends. Dr. Ho may receive compensation, product, or an affiliate commission on anything you see on this site. This is a personal Website solely reflecting Dr. Ho’s personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of any organization with which I may be affiliated.

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Do you lie to your kids about vegetables? Is this really a necessary part of your lives? Have you considered the answer to these important questions:

When is a lie good? When is lying bad? What exactly is a white lie? How does this all tie into food and what we feed our kids?

I am all for adding vegetables in wherever we can. I am all for getting creative in preparing food so that everyone is getting as many vegetables as they possibly can.

What I am not a fan of is lying to the kids and telling them that there are no vegetables in a dish that does include vegetables.

Nor am I a fan of NEVER showing the kids what the vegetables look like when they are prepared beautifully, or what they taste like when they are prepared wonderfully.

There has to be a middle ground.  

For our meat eaters, I love, love, love the 
idea of rolling chicken legs in pureed butternut squash before coating it in bread crumbs for an oven fried treat with a considerable boost to its nutritional content. I would love this even more if the meal also included some delicious roasted butternut squash or raw curried squash soup or garlicky sauteed squash. Round out this meal with some greens, and it is wonderful.

I am sure that you understand where I am going with this idea.

I want the kids to get their vegetables and I totally understand that some are super picky and it may need to be hidden in their food. But, let’s also let the vegetables out of the proverbial closet and allow them to sit front and center on our tables. One thing is for certain, if the kids are not ever exposed to vegetables in their natural form then they will never learn to love and appreciate nature’s bounty.

Many different authorities  (USDA, Center for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, your allopathic doctor, kids sports coaches, etc) will all have opinions on how many servings of vegetables per day is appropriate.

I am here to tell you that unless there is a medical reason, neither the kids nor the adults, can have too many vegetable servings.

However, starting with a very modest 3-5 servings per day would be awesome. Examples of these are 10 baby carrots, 1/2 cup cooked kale, or 1 cup raw spinach. By the way, a bit of  spinach swirled into a fruit smoothie is absolutely delicious and does not change the taste of the smoothie. But be forewarned, it can make for a smoothie color that is less than pleasing to a picky eater’s sense of sight. When I first offered these to my children and their friends,  it was always in a non see through cup so that they did not reject it based purely on color.

This brings us back to the lie, white or otherwise. My children are older and they are well aware of the fact that their food is full of vegetables. However, when they were young they were not as aware.  I did not necessarily point out every vegetable that was in a dish. Similarly, I did not give the family a list of the spices that I had used to prepare their food.

If they asked, I told.

If they did not ask, I did not tell. It was, and is, a simple part of our lives.

New foods must be offered many times before a picky, or stubborn eater, will taste it. Some people feel that the best thing to do is to make a child try all new foods. The general rule is that they should try the food three times before rejecting them. Others feel that the clean plate rule is the only way to go. Still others believe that the best practice is to lead by example.  Express your enjoyment in the taste and texture, of your food.

I recommend the third option.

In my opinion, a child who is forced may reject it regardless of the food. It may simply be due to their desire for control.

Find what works best for your family. Please keep on trying. Eating a good array of vegetables is a tremendous part of your child’s journey to good health.

Do you lie to your kids

Please use the comment section below to share your tips, questions, and/or thoughts about this post.

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Naturally Yours,
Elise Ho
Ph.D., D.N. Psych.
Behavioral & Mental Health Specialist

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16 thoughts on “The Great Vegetable Lie”

  1. Elise, I have never been a fan of telling lies to my boys about their food either. I do not try to hide what is in their food. Since my almost 17-year old was four, we have had a garden to some extent. My boys have grown up seeing the fruits and veggies grow, change colors, and have tasted them raw and cooked. My boys LOVE green salads, eat spinach, and many other veggies. People are sometimes floored when my boys beg for more green salad. Since my boys have to avoid gluten, they need to know what is really in their food so they can identify safe and unsafe food when not at home. Great post! ~Adrienne

    1. Thank you, Adrienne. I love that your boys love salads. My kids do too. As a a matter of fact whenever my oldest comes home he always wants to go to this salad buffet place near our house that he loves.

      I think that it is so important for all people to understand and know what is really in their food. Of course, when you have to avoid gluten or another substance such as dairy or sugar it makes it that much more important.

      Great job.

      (PS I cannot wait for your new book to come out. Everyone should read it)

  2. Hi Dr. Elise,

    Reading your getting kids to eat their vegetables took me back to happy memories when we raising our 2 sons.

    They were both kinda picky eaters. And, our youngest was allergic to an array of food. Still, we gave them lots of options without commenting on what they did and didn’t eat.

    That strategy eventually worked as they both grew up loving their fruits & veggies.

    Enjoyed your post for the information & the memories prompted.
    Thank you,

  3. Joan Harrington

    Hi Elise,
    What an awesome post! I remember when my kids were little I always had to lie just a little for them to eat their veggies lol Definately not a good idea to lie I do agree 🙂 I wish kids were more open to try to new things……maybe it is a little easier nowdays 🙂

  4. Hi Elise,
    Great post. I guess I was lucky in that my daughter loved trying new foods even as a toddler and she still will try something new and her kids are the same way. I’m not sure where she got that from. I will try some things but some I absolutely will not.

    Thanks for sharing and Yes, I do agree that you should not hide things from them or lie to them about the foods they eat.

    By the way, LOVE the look of your site.

  5. I was fortunate with my boys that they didn’t need to be “lied to” about vegetables. They ate what was put in front of them most of the time.
    This has some great value for those parents who do struggle to get their kids to eat vegetables.
    Thanks a lot.

  6. When my daughter was first able to eat solid foods, during her nap time, I would steam some veggies. When she woke up (a hungry child lol) I gave her veggies. I never gave her salt or sugar or even baby food in a jar.

    She loves veggies until this day…certain ones, she will try but not like. So not much of a problem for her. There is that “control” issue when they are young. We all need to recognize that. Is it the food or the control?

    I did find a trick…when they are of age, get them involved in cooking or prep. It helps them get interested. Just my take! lol


  7. Good points made here, Elise.

    Don’t ask don’t tell is a great way to go with the veggie serving for kids.

    Of course,you can also try to make them more appealing to kids by sweetening them with a glaze, or creaming them and so forth.

    If that works, you can then work toward slowly but progressively reducing the sweetener, until hopefully… hopefully… your kids develop a taste for undoctored veggies.

  8. Christine Adindu

    Great way to get the kids to each their vegetable. I enjoy experimenting different recipes to get my kids interested in enjoying their meal.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas.

    1. Trying out new recipes is always a great idea. Cooking with the kids and helping them choose recipes is also a great way to get help in the kitchen, spend time with the kids and insure that they try new foods.

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About The Author

Dr. Elise Ho

Dr. Elise Ho

Dr. Elise Ho is a Holistic Health & Life Coach with a special interest in emotional health, life alignment, and energy flow.

Elise will partner with you to align your mindset, your energy, your home and your career so that you can live your life's desire with freedom and love.

Elise offers 30 years of experience and multiple certifications and degrees including a Ph.D. in Natural Health and a doctoral degree in Naturopathic Psychology.