10 tips to help reduce veggie battles with your children


Hi! I am Noelle. I am a mom of three boys and a registered dietitian. I have a private practice, teach at Brescia University College and have an Instagram feed dedicated to all things food and motherhood (@motherhoodandmeals). I am delighted to share monthly tips and recipes with you on Suzanne’s blog over the coming year. I thought I would start with 10 tips to help reduce veggie battles with your children. I hope they are helpful! And please feel free to comment below with any questions you have. Thanks for reading!

Tip 1: It takes up to 20 exposures to a food before a child knows if they actually like it.An exposure can be seeing the food on a plate, helping to prepare the food, touching the food, tasting the food, and/or actually swallowing the food. For example, a child may help to tear spinach leaves up but never ingest any…this is an exposure. A child may pick up a piece of broccoli and touch and top feeling soft and spongy and the bottom feeling firm. This is an exposure. I child may lick a piece of watermelon but then set it back down. This is an exposure. Continued exposures in a safe, non-pressured environment are is one of the best practices that will lead to a “well rounded eater”.

Tip 2: Do not get caught up in meals vs. snacks.Ideally we will capitalize on our children’s hunger and offer veggies at their “hungriest/most alert” times. Put a veggie tray out mid-morning while you play and enjoy some veggies with them. Or have one ready for when they come home from daycare or school and you may find that more veggies are consumed than ever would be on their supper plate. Perhaps your children are hungry in the car on the way home from school or day care…this is a perfect opportunity for some diced peppers and sliced cucumbers!
Tip 3: Include your children in grocery shipping and meal prep.There are a lot of fun ways for children to help in the kitchen and many of them surround veggie prep. You can see a more extensive list here.

Tip 4: Offer dips.Children LOVE to dip. Whether it is hummus or Greek yogurt or tzatziki  or your favourite homemade salad dressing…kids LOVE to dip! This is also a great way to add both nutrient and caloric density into your child’s intake.

Tip 5: Help your child sort their thoughts out. When you child expressed that they do not like something, it could be more that they are worries what it will taste like and or feel like and do not feel safe to take the risk of trying it. We have had lots of fun in our house with “Today I tried…” which creates a non-pressured adventure of trying new things. You can find out more about that here.

Tip 6: Recognize “normal” behaviour. Food jags will occur and are expected. This means that young children love a food one day and hate it the next. This is most typical from ages 15 to 36 months, but certainly can still happen in pre-school years. It is part of normal development and one of many ways that these adorable tiny humans can drive parents crazy by exercising their autonomy and reaching to see where limits lie. The truth is that the best thing we can do is support our children in this journey. The “division of responsibility” is key to dealing with food jags and “picky eater” behavior in general. It is our responsibility as parents to offer healthy food throughout the day. It is the child’s  responsibility if they will eat it or not. child’s responsibility if they choose to eat. That means ideals no filler foods like gold fish and puffs and ideally no “short order cook”. Children will soon learn that no other options are coming, so they may want to eat what is in front of them. This process can take time, and there may be some meals that end up in the garbage, but overall it leads to well-rounded eaters and that is the ultimate goal for well-rounded nutrition.

Tip 7: Please do not use food as a reward or give punishment around food.A child who is lead to believe that they are “good” or “bad” with relationship to food may end up on the path of emotional eating. If a child does not eat their broccoli, this is not grounds for punishment. And if they do, this is not ground for “deserving” a brownie. When it comes to eating healthy food, a kind word of encouragement is great but there is never need for feelings of guilt of reward.

Tip 8: Lead by example. Are you eating vegetables in front of your kids? Are you reaching for them while you make supper? Are you sitting with your children at lunch and eating a salad? Even if it does not seem like it, your children are watching EVERYTHING you do. Whether it is putting your coat away, making exercise a part of each day, eating your vegetables, or sitting down to pray. They see it all and the best thing we can do to teach our children is lead by example.

Tip 9: Try smoothie bowls.This isn’t a direct means of having the child eat the whole food, but it is still a way to introduce flavours and increase a child’s intake of new foods. Trying a green smoothie bowl may help the child feel more comfortable to try other green foods.

Tip 10: Last but not least, realize that every child will have a few “I don’t like foods”.I know I do and you likely do as well. Just keep offering all foods and over time it will become obvious which ones are starting to stick and while ones may be “off the table”.

So, in summary…we are looking to offer veggies at times when are children are most hungry; avoid taking up space with “filler foods”; involve children in meal prep; keep meal times low stress and focus on the bigger picture; offer all members at the table the same foods (no short order cook); and last but not least lead by example. And please…DON’T GIVE UP…you are doing a great job!

Meet My Contributors!

Fashion, Motherhood, Travel

Behind every great woman is a great woman!  I’m so honoured that these incredible women will be the monthly contributors to my blog Mostly A Mother! They are women I have come to admire for their hard work, inspiration to others and passion for what they do. Below is a short and sweet introduction for now. In no particular order, meet my incredible team! 🙂

Noelle Martin is a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a mom of three young boys. Noelle is founder and president of Registered Dietitian Services and Motherhood and Meals, and co-founder of Nourished Beginnings. Noelle has a passion for educating and inspiring others in areas related to nutrition and overall health. Noelle specialized in areas of maternal and pediatric nutrition, sports nutrition, Celiac Disease, food allergies, and Autism. Noelle completed a comprehensive dietetic internship at London Health Sciences Center and has her Master of Science in Foods and Nutrition from Brescia University College in London, Ontario. She has enjoyed a variety of employment opportunities within the dietetic field in clinical and community settings, as well as research and administrative roles. Noelle is registered with the College of Dietitians of Ontario, is an active member of Dietitians of Canada, and regularly attends at workshops and seminars relating to her practice. In addition to her work in counselling and corporate presentations and workshops, Noelle thoroughly enjoys teaching courses at Brescia University College and has an active Instagram feed and blog dedicated to educating and inspiring moms to make healthy choices for themselves and their families in addition to sharing moments of motherhood, products, and travel destinations she loves. You can find Noelle at www.nourishedbeginnings.ca, www.rdservices.ca, www.motherhoodandmeals.com and www.instagram.com/motherhoodandmeals.

Sunshine (real name) wears many hats! She’s a wifey, Human Resources professional, twin mom, community member, blogger, social media hustler and she is self taught in the areas of photography, video and editing.

A natural extrovert, upon meeting Sunshine she really lives up to her name. She loves meeting people whether in person or virtually and really thrives on strong relationships and community.Drop her a line, give her a buzz or just reach out to say hi!

Email: sunshine.punzalan@gmail.com Instagram: @Shinelily

Roslyn Costanzo is a wardrobe consultant, freelance writer, and the blogger behind Style Forage. A shopaholic on a shoestring, one of her greatest pleasures in life is being able to tell someone when and where something they’re looking for is on sale, was on sale, or is going to be, on sale!

Roslyn lives in Dundas, Ontario with her husband and her two little redheaded kids, Viggo and Gigi.

Email: roslyn@styleforage.com @styleforage

Patricia Oslizlo, the mama behind @the.land.of.os and the designer behind @detailsrenovation design. From London, Ontario where she lives with her husband Luke, her two amazing girls Scarlett and Lennon, their fur baby Frannie. Luke and Patricia started their business Details Renovation and Design in 2013 and have been designing, flipping, renovating, and building homes ever since. A few fun facts about Patricia: Joanna Gaines is her lady-crush, she’s a total foodie and can beat anyone in an eating challenge, she’s a dog lover, self-care and mental health advocate, and of course she’s obsessed with all things home design and decor. She’s so thrilled to be a part of the awesome group of ladies contributing to Mostly a Mother and can’t wait to share with you!


Meet Jordan Porteous,  a wife and a mom to 5 beautiful babes, 4 girls and 1 lucky boy! Her health journey began with nutrition and quickly turned into a holistic approach to living. She believes our bodies have an incredible ability to heal themselves if given the support they need. Jordan is super passionate about teaching people how to replace the toxins in their lives and their homes with more natural solutions and how to truly thrive from the inside out!

Email:westannawellness@gmail.com Instagram: @westannawellness

Andrea is a pre and postnatal personal training specialist in the London, Ontario area and also the owner and founder of ANDFIT Training Studio. Her goal is for women to feel empowered physically and mentally at the studio and feel welcomed into the ANDFIT community. Andrea is a mom of two and loves to share her passion on all things fitness, food and family life.

Email:andrea@andfit.ca Instagram: @and_fit


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