You Can Learn to Enjoy Vegetables

In our culture, vegetables are considered challenging. Although it isn't true, most of us have learned that children will eat vegetables only under pressure. The nutrients in vegetables are no more or less important than those in any other food group. However, nutritionists consider vegetables and fruits to be "marker foods" that give a snapshot of the overall quality of the diet and selectively promote them. The result? More pressure! It all adds up to generations of grown-ups who feel obligated to eat their broccoli before they can have dessert. Worse, many have been so traumatized by broccoli that they won't allow it at the table! It doesn't have to be that way.

Vegetables can be challenging: They have a variety of textures and flavors, some of them strong, sharp, or biting. You or your child may be a supertaster, which means you are sensitive to strong flavors. However, even supertasters learn to enjoy strong-flavored vegetables, provided they have time and repeated, unpressured opportunities to learn.

Keep these strategies in mind about learning to like vegetables:

  • Plan to eat them because you enjoy them, not because you feel obligated.
  • Tone down strong flavors with salt, fat, sauces, bread crumbs, herbs and spices.
  • Sneak up on a new vegetable: Look at it, prepare it, watch others eat it, put it in your mouth and take it out again. Don't swallow until you are ready.
  • Take your time, and be persistent. Most children and grownups learn to like new food after they have done the sneaking-up bit 15 or 20 times-or more!

For more about preparing vegetables in appealing ways and helping your child and yourself learn to enjoy them (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008. Also see to purchase books and to review other resources.

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©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.