Monday, March 7, 2011

Parenting Adventures | What Do You Do When They Won't Eat Their Vegetables?

I've been trying to make meals that are a bit healthier, adding some variety to our veggie offerings. We have a few veggie standbys that I serve when I don't want dinner to be challenging for both parent and child. But I'm pretty certain that baby carrots and green peas aren't the only essential vegetables in a healthy diet.

Friday night we had Chicken Ravioli, Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad, and drum roll, please.... mixed frozen veggies.

When I served up the veggies I explained briefly that they may choose one, not more than one, but one of the items in the mixed veggies that they wished to push aside on their plate. The girls ate their two bites beautifully, not bothering to remove anything. Daniel devoured his ravioli and sat staring at those veggies.

"But I just don't want to eat the corn or those things. What are those things?"

Calmly, "Those are lima beans, they're like big peas. You can choose not to eat the lima beans, but then you do need to eat the corn."


Calmly, "I'm sorry you don't want to, but vegetables are good for you. Your body needs them to fight off getting sick. God made vegetables because you need them and it's our job to make sure you get the foods your body needs. You will eat your vegetables."


A bit more back and forth. Explaining multiple times the reason he needed to eat his veggies. Standing firm.


Less calmly, "Daniel, you can go sit on your bed and come out when you are ready to eat your vegetables." Daddy speaking. Followed by very, very loud howling. A few minutes passes. Still howling. Eric heads down the hall to talk with Daniel.

The back and forth carries on for more than an hour. I've cleaned up dinner, Daniel's veggies are still sitting on his plate. An ultimatum as been made and stated, "Daniel, do you understand you will not eat anything else until you have eaten your vegetables? No breakfast until you have eaten those vegetables. If they are not eaten tonight you won't even get to take one of the veggies out. You'll have to eat them all."

Daniel went to bed very unhappy. So did Dad and Mom. Mercy even tried to help by telling Daniel that they weren't to bad and to just eat them in one bite.

Daddy was certain the veggies would be eaten before breakfast. Lesson learned. I was less certain having lived through some dreadful battles of the will as a kid in my house when I was growing up, though not over veggies. Apparently veggies were an issue in Eric's home, explaining why they are big issue in ours today.

Breakfast came and went. Daniel insisted he wasn't hungry.

Lunch came. He sat at the table with us as instructed while we ate one of his favorite meals, cheeseburgers and french fries. Still he refused to eat.

By now I had enlisted my brother Andy, my parents and Eric's parents to pray. We were unsure what to do, but certain that if we folded we were loosing a battle that would cost much more than we were willing to pay for the momentary relief. I googled how long a child could go without eating. A week. That seemed unlikely. I prayed more.

Dinner came. As the Saturday night traditional cheese pizza stared at him, he stared at the veggies. In two hours he got down about three green peas. Eventually the birthday party for Eric, for my side of the family was cancelled.

Lots more howling. Lots of praying for courage. Lots of of insistence, "I JUST DON'T WANT TO EAT CORN AND LIMA BEANS!" Lots more conversations one on one with Daddy. With Mommy. Lots of crying. Lots of assurance that he was loved no matter what, but that he was going to eventually have to eat his veggies.

Bedtime. Still, veggies not eaten.

I went back to the our bedroom to pray again. I decided one more tact, I quietly went into Daniel's room.

"Daniel, I really want you to help me wrap Daddy's birthday present for tomorrow. If you can promise me, promise me, that if we go back out there you WILL eat your veggies, I will let you come back to Mommy and Daddy's bedroom to help wrap the present."

"Would I get to eat dinner?"


"I'll try."

"No, I need a promise that you will do more than try." We'd tried many, many, many times today already.

"Okay, Mommy."

We prayed.

He ate his veggies, with just the lima beans pulled aside. As his dad had agreed to earlier, the lima beans could be put between the burger patty and the slice of cheese in his cheeseburger. He devoured the burger and two slices of pizza. He told me he was still hungry but wanted to save a little room for birthday cake.

We called Uncle Andy and told him the birthday party was back on. We felt like celebrating. They all came right over. We woke both girls up from bed for red velvet birthday cake and a party.

I imagine God feels this happy when I finally obey and do what He knows is best for me?


  1. Wow, what an ordeal! Good job! And what a great lesson for Daniel to learn, hopefully it will pay off in the future.

  2. Great job. Pray is powerful even with veggies! We have tried many things and sometimes it's just battle. Thanks for posting.

  3. A celebration is always a good thing when a kid (or a grown-up) finally comes to terms with the hard, hard thing. I suspect you're right about God feeling the same about our obedience after a struggle!

  4. wow - what perseverance - good job! :)

    our eldest once did something like that - but he did manage to eat them that same night as a 3 year old. He managed to get the veggies down when he learned we were *really* serious about him go to bed right after dinner if he didn't eat.

    how wonderful that you had so many family members praying through the situation as well.