Sarah Krause
Sarah Krause

Moms for generations have begged their kids to eat more vegetables. They’ve tricked, persuaded, cajoled with rewards, tempted with dessert and enticed with butter or sauces. The veggie struggle is a common complaint and one that plagues the moms I talked with recently. Most said they were happy with their family’s overall diets, but over and over they confessed that including more vegetables was the one area they wished to improve upon.

According to researchers, it’s important to keep dishing out those veggies. Negative childhood experiences impact your taste buds well into adulthood. And according to WebMD, “If you aren't eating vegetables, you aren't getting all their amazing components like fiber, antioxidants, and other powerful phytochemicals.”

Yeah, we know. But? “It’s challenging to get my kids to eat fruits and vegetables,” Jaime F. said, admitting that she tended to mostly serve things she knows the kids like. “The rule is they have to take a bite of it.” Another mom, Bree M., overhead us and chimed in with the frustration. “The only vegetable my son will eat is carrots!”

Melissa F. said her toddler’s diet wasn’t the issue – it was her husband’s. “My son eats well, but it’s (my husband) who doesn’t eat his veggies,” she laughed. “He just pushes them around on his plate. Not the best role model!”

One way moms manage the meals is to cook at home. “In general we eat pretty healthy, I’d say,” Kristin P. said. “I cook at home almost all the time.” She added that she’d like to see less French fries in her kids’ diet, but overall “I think the kids eat healthier than we do!”

Karen P. was proud to point out her family’s diet improvement: cooking at home vs. eating out. “In the past, we used to eat dinner out at least five times a week,” she said, noting that now it’s down to about once a week. “I cook at home now and I love it! I should’ve done it sooner.” she said. “Plus, it’s so much more economical.”

My friend Chris W. is another smart shopper and also makes the most of her family’s meals at home. She echoed the need to include more fruits and veggies in their diet. She noted that she’d really like to try more vegetarian meals. “I’d like us to go in that direction more because I think there’s a lot of evidence that a plant-based diet is healthier.” She wished she were more skilled in cooking vegetables and was able to devote more time to it. Above all, she aims to set the stage for good eating for her kids “to encourage a lifetime of good eating habits to be healthy.”

Eating on the run due to crazy schedules can wreak havoc on family meal time. Tracy F. said this was the biggest problem for her family of five. “I’m not cooking the way that I wish I had time to,” she said. “I think if I prepared (meals) at home more, they’d be healthier.” She said she relies on a lot of “meal deals” from local supermarkets.

Like mom Jaime, Jennifer P. said she sometimes feels like her family is in a food rut. She wished her family’s diet was better because she doesn’t encourage them to break out of their routine. “It’s not a great diet because I always feed them only what they’ll eat,” she lamented. Ultimately she’d like to see them all eat more vegetables and less junk. “But right now, I just don’t want to fight them on it,” she said. “They’ll figure it out on their own and develop a taste for it like I did!”