Dr David’s Tips for Raising Healthy Kids

The dreaded V word
Sooner or later there comes a moment that all doctors working with overweight kids dread. We pause, take a breath and utter the ‘V’ word. Vegetables. Suddenly the mother trembles, the father dives for cover and the kid erupts with some version of ‘Eewwwwwww! Yuck.’ Of course there’s nothing in a child’s nature that makes him hate vegetables. If there were, humans would have died out from malnutrition generations ago. Vegetables don’t have to be a battle. But they do have to be tasty. And you don’t have to be sneaky. It’s better for all concerned if kids understand why veggies are important for their health and learn to enjoy them.


Eleven year old Sam and his mother Tricia were generally pleased with the progress made during their first few months at OEL. Sam had really made substantial improvements with his diet and was getting to be more active. However, he simply refused to eat vegetables. Period. Tricia, who held down a demanding full-time job was honest in admitting she was no Julia Child. ‘I’m not a great cook, and my husband is worse,’ she said. Nevertheless, each night she dutifully prepared a balanced meal consisting of protein, low GI starch and … canned vegetables. She was frustrated Sam wouldn’t even give them a try. Cautiously I said I possibly wouldn’t eat canned veggies either. I told Tricia that I appreciated how little time she had, but making veggies tasty doesn’t take much time. In fact they have to look good, taste good, smell good and feel good. Here's my tips that helped Tricia get Sam to gobble up his greens. I hope they help you get your very own ‘refusenik’ asking for more.
And as Kaye Foster-Powell says in her Low GI Family Cookbook: ‘Don’t leave vegetables till the end of the day. Young children especially can be tired and fragile by dinnertime so getting them to eat their dinner let alone the vegetables is a big ask. Try to incorporate 3 vegetables as a normal part of eating throughout the day from raw carrot and celery sticks as snacks to salad with their lunchtime sandwich.’

Dr David Ludwig

– Dr David Ludwig is Director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital Boston and author of Ending the Food Fight