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Getting Kids Excited to Try Fruits and Veggies

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Getting kids excited to try fruits and veggies can be challenging, as they are often unsure about new foods. Some days they may only have a few tastes, licks or bites; other times, the amount they eat will amaze you. This variability can be frustrating, but it is also completely normal! Below are 5 ways to get kids excited about fruits and veggies in fun, pressure-free ways. We know that keeping the fun high and the pressure low is the best formula for creating an environment where kids feel curious and excited to try.


5 ways to get kids excited about trying fruits and veggies

  1. Explore food with other senses
    • Trying doesn’t always mean tasting. There are many ways to experience a food before actually taking a bite and swallowing it. Encourage kids to use their senses to explore foods, such as:
      • Sight: What color is it? What shape? Big or small?
      • Touch: Is it bumpy or smooth? Soft or firm?
      • Smell: Does it smell fruity? Nutty? Sweet? Pungent?
    • When kids are not pressured to take a bite and instead encouraged to use all their senses to explore fruits and veggies, they get more excited to try. Check out the Have Fun Trying handout for more.
    • Find more ways to engage kids in the kitchen


  2. Make it fun
    • Playing with food is one of the best ways to spark curiosity and create a low-pressure environment for kids. There are many ways to make food fun, including:
      • Use a variety of colorful foods
      • Cut fruits and veggies into different shapes or use skewers or toothpicks
      • Add flare to food with a fun presentation by creating food art faces, landscapes, patterns and more
      • Give foods silly names like “wacky watermelon” or “wham bam veggie slam”
      • Try a food craft or kitchen science experiment


  3. Engage kids in meal preparation
    • Involving kids builds curiosity and makes them more excited to try new foods. There are many ways to build “buy in” and ownership over a meal or snack, including having kids:
      • Make a shopping list using words or pictures of the fruits and veggies they would like to try
      • Explore and pick out fruits or veggies in the produce section of the store
      • Help you with cooking or meal preparation
      • Pick out dishes and napkins and set and clear the table
      • Try the meal or snack with you!

  4. Try foods new ways
    • Just like adults, kids may not like veggies prepared a certain way, such as raw or steamed, but love it roasted or drizzled with melted cheese. The key is to keep giving them opportunities to retry the same foods in new ways. In addition to different cooking methods, don’t forget about adding new herbs, dips and sauces to spice it up!


  5. Be a role model
    • Kids are learning from you all the time! They are watching and listening to things you do and say. So, let them catch you snacking on fruits and veggies you enjoy and making positive comments about the foods. It will make them more likely to try tasting and eating these foods, too!


In addition to the tips to get kids excited to try, there are other key considerations and tactics that we know work:

  • Offer a new food with familiar foods. Even if kids choose to eat only the familiar foods, that is ok!
  • Offer a very small amount of a new food (if eaten, can always give more)
  • It’s okay to not like a food, but teach kids to do it in a respectful way (thumbs up/down, “this isn’t for me”, “no thanks” versus “yuck”, “blah” or “ick”)
  • Don’t get discouraged! Keep in mind that it can take up to 20-30 times of being around a new food for kids to take a bite and swallow.
  • Supporting your child’s natural hunger cycle with a meal and snack schedule will help their belly be more ready for food. A normal eating pattern is 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day, all with about 3 hours in between. Water is a great choice for in between, but avoid all-day snacking or sipping on milk or juice. This will ensure that kids come to the table hungry, which means they are more likely to try foods, new and familiar.


Teachers, schools and youth leaders can also participate in the PowerUp School Challenge to get students excited to try fruits and veggies, and to earn an incentive for your group or class!