Lying to Children About Vegetables

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

I read an article last week about how it's ok to lie to your children about vegetables to get them to eat them. And I was left feeling more than a little confused. It's everywhere: take Green Giant sweetcorn, whose advertising campaign revolves around a couple of sweet little darlings tucking into their sweetcorn, imagining they'll turn into a big 'ho ho ho-ing' green giant once they've finished their tea. Other things like carrots being 'rocket fuel' and peas 'martian seeds'. (Although, after what one dinner lady said to me when I was 5 years old: 'that cabbage'll put 'airs on yer chest' - it's a wonder I didn't avoid them for life). 

Imagination is great. But all this, just to make your child eat their veg? 

First off, I'm not a smug parent. I've just persevered (and put up with a lot of toddler teatime tantrums over the years). I never lied to my children about what their veg will or will not do - the most outlandish I got was to tell my 4-year old that carrots will help you see in the dark (which I'd argue was at least a little bit scientific fact). And yet how did I end up with a 7-year old who loves cabbage and artichokes and a 4-year old with a hankering for broccoli and prunes? 

Indian-spiced broccoli - but will kids eat it even if they know it's just broccoli?

It's simple. I just dished up vegetable after vegetable, each mealtime. I never made it a big deal. On the outside, I just cleared their plates away if they didn't eat their veggies, even if on the inside I was panic-stricken about how I was going to get their vitamins into them. I dished up sweetcorn, which was pushed away. The next day, peas. The next, broccoli. And, within a few weeks, when they realised they wouldn't be getting crisps or yoghurt instead, they started eating their veg. Even now, they often need some encouragement, but they're learning what the food is actually doing for them (like lentils being good for your blood, or kiwi fruits helping to keep colds and coughs away) rather than imaginative tales about carrots powering space rockets. 

And yes, the way I did it took ages and a lot of patience. But although telling your children peas come from Mars might work in the short term, at some age, they're going to look at a pea and realise, well, that it's just a pea. 

Am I wrong? Do you think it's right to tell children lies about their food to get them to eat it? And do you think that it works? Let me know in the comments box below...


  1. I have a similar philosophy to you and it appears to work most of the time. I do however have a very slow eater for a 4 year old. Breakfast can sometimes take an hour. The only fib I recently told him was that the alarm sensors in a restaurant were special eyes and if he didn't eat up the alarm would go off. I have never seen him eat so fast...although he never took his eye off the alarm sensor after that. Other than that, I usually just say that they will grow bigger and stronger.

  2. I'm similar to you in that I just serve it regardless. I simplify things. Cheese and milk is good for their bones. Meat and fish good for building muscles. Vegetables and pulses is good to help their poop. Sorry. I tell them over and over that these things are good for them but mainly I just expect them to eat it and don't give them an alternative.


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