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Are you part of the clean-plate club?  Are your kids?  I’m not… I’m actually the opposite.  I read a book when I was in high school about this girl who always left one bite of food on her plate to be ladylike.  She also scooped her soup AWAY from her when she ate it.  I loved those little things, so I’ve always done them.  You can ask Mickey… I always leave at least one bite.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I do.

Now that I have kids, I was always telling them “eat your dinner” or “just try it”, but soon I realized that the stress that I was causing them (and me) wasn’t worth it.   When Orlena sent me this post about the same thing that I had been thinking, I new that I had to share it with you…

eat your veggies

“As a mom, I know that it can be so difficult to get your kids to eat healthy food.  You offer them carrots, they ask for bread.  You suggest an apple, they ask for cookies.  Like everything parenting, we need to get the balance right.   We want peaceful meantimes, happy faces and kids eating a healthy &  balanced diet.

So what are we to do?

I have the best advice for you today…

1).  LET GO of the stress.   Yes, that’s it.  Stress just makes everything worse. The more you push your kids to eat the more likely they are to fight back. You’ll just end up with stressful and upsetting meal times.

Letting go of stress doesn’t mean feeding your kids lots of junk. It means offering them a healthy diet, but looking at the long term goals rather than the carrot on the fork. (Or the carrot being tossed across the kitchen if you have toddlers.)   Continue to offer them fruits and vegetables at every meal, but don’t fight them on eating everything.

2).  My second best bit of advice is to offer them FAR more fruit and vegetables than you think they’ll eat. If you offer fruit and vegetables frequently, it doesn’t matter so much if they don’t eat them. Chances are they’ll eat some of it at some time and that’s a great start.

3).  Try the “one bite” rule.  They try one bite before they refuse it.  Most kids will do this without a fight.   It’s an easy solution for them and for you.

4).  Offer healthy choices throughout the ENTIRE day.   Here are a few ways to try:

  • Stewed fruit to go on your breakfast cereal.
  • Dried fruit and nuts with yoghurt for morning snack.
  • Carrot and vegetable sticks with lunch.
  • Cut up fruit with some biscuits for afternoon snack.
  • Veggies on the side with dinner. You might want to offer a variety and expect them not to eat them all.

5).  Talk to your kids about why it is important to eat this way.   Teaching your children to eat healthily is something that takes time and patience, but it’s so worth the effort. Your kids will grow up to love healthy food and they’ll be strong healthy adults with a much higher chance of living a long and healthy life.

Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?



Dr Orlena Kerek is a pediatric doctor and mother of 4 young children. She writes at SnottyNoses about connecting with your kids and teaching them how to live a healthy life, especially healthy eating habits.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. These are great, realistic tips! I am blessed my boys have never been picky eaters and have healthy appetites. We call unhealthy foods, filler foods, filler foods are foods we indulge in that do not provide nourishment for our body. I educate my boys on foods and my older boys now limit their intake on sweets and filler foods without me having to nag. No one likes a nag! Another tip is do not keep highly processed foods, cookies, chips, in the house because, kids aside, I know if junk is in the house I will eat it!

    1. Oh me, too! I don’t have to worry about the kids as much as me. lol!

    2. Karen, that is so true! I make sure I don’t buy much junk food. I only go to the supermarket every few weeks and then put the junk in a cupboard. The kids always seem to have an inventory of what there is though. Haha!

  2. I have conflict with my son many times when we are having dinner. My son seems don’t like eating, he usually spend much time for a meal because he will attract by all the things around him easily. Also he just hold the food in his mouth and only chewing it when I warned him. I’m worry bout his health since he eats little and look so thin.
    After I read this article, I think my stress have affected my son so that he also feel stressful during dinner time. Maybe I try the “one bit” rule first, let’s see whether it help or not.

    1. Hi Irene, the one bite rule works for some people but not all. It works for Becky, but we don’t use it in our house as my son sometimes gets really upset at the thought of trying something new. If you do want to try it, I would be very careful not to pressure your son into eating. It’s so easy for encouragement to slip into nagging! It may be that your son finds textures difficult to handle. If you are worried about his health and being thin, you should get him checked out by your doctor. It may be that he is perfectly fine, but it’s much better to be safe than sorry. I have lots more tips on my site and I’m happy to chat with you more about it if you like. Orlena.

  3. Where I struggle is when my toddler won’t eat at dinner. OK, great, don’t pressure him to eat if he’s not hungry BUT the times that I’ve just let it go, he’s woken up in the middle of the night because he’s hungry. Sometimes before-bed healthy snacks work, sometimes he won’t eat those, either. I try not to offer snacks after dinner that are more “high value” than what was on the dinner plate (e.g. crackers) because I don’t want him to think that he can not eat dinner and then get whatever he really wants later. Sometimes I’ll end up just giving him more milk before bed so that he has SOMETHING in his stomach. Would love any thoughts on what to do! He’s not quite two and doesn’t have enough verbal skills yet to say “I’m not hungry” or “I don’t like this”.

    1. My sister in law actually gives her kids a big breakfast (eggs, bacon, etc…), a healthy snack around 11 (like apples with peanut butter) & then nothing (no lunch) until dinnertime at 4 and her kids gobble up their dinner because they are hungry! I’ve never tried it, but it might work.