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Hello – my 6-year-old will not even try fruits or vegetables. This is ironic as I am a vegetarian and she sees me eat veggies and fruits all day long with relish. I cannot make her try even one bite of anything except sweet potato and pesto, which we make together and in which we use peas and spinach. I can coax her into eating a creamed soup with spinach and potato, also, but that is literally it. No fruit, no other vegetable, raw or cooked. Bribes have not worked. Withholding dessert has not worked. She knows she should eat fruits and vegetables daily but simply asks for pesto every single day – then declares she is full after a few bites. Help!!!!

First, focus on the positives-she likes to eat sweet potatoes and pesto (which you said contains peas and spinach)!  Next, remember that it takes kids about 10-15 times of seeing a food before they will accept it. Since you said you are a vegetarian and eat fruits and veggies very often, this could simply be a way for your child to exert control and differentiate herself. Kids at this age are becoming more independent and like to be in control. As for being full after a few bites, she may be in a slower growth period and may not be as hungry as before. Kids are pretty good at determining when they are hungry and when they are full because many of them still listen to their internal hunger and satiety cues. 

 Don’t forget that kids, like adults, eat with their eyes. Try some things to make fruits and vegetables visually appealing such as using small cookie cutters to cut pieces of melon. If a portion seems to large to a child, they may declare they do not like it, when really they are put off by the large amount of food in front of them.

Involve your daughter in the selection of fruits and vegetables. Take her shopping with you and ask if she sees anything she would like to try. Look for pre-cut fruits and vegetables or pre-packaged items. Some now even have characters that she is probably familiar with on the packages-that may get her to try them!  Keep pre-packaged items in plain sight, that way she may be more likely to choose them for a snack.

 Don’t make this a battle of wills. Offer your child choices, so she still has some feeling of control over her meals. This is likely just a phase and more about exercising control than the food itself.



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  1. Thankfully, young taste buds can be trained. Because the antioxidants from fruits & vegetables is SO necessary to maintain a strong immune system I would recommend you add a whole food supplement for your daughter such as Juice Plus, which comes in gummies or chewables. We now know that once our bodies receive the “good stuff” it begins to create a craving for it. She will begin to “want” to eat fruits and vegetables if she has developed a habit of having it via the whole food supplement. Check out for more info or my website www, BEST WISHES!

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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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