The Veggie Power Struggle

Nurse Rona,

My 2 year old daughter has a mind of her own when it comes to eating, and no matter how hard I try I can’t get her to eat veggies. When I tell her she has to take three bites she just says “no” and will cry and fuss. I’m frustrated because I want her to be healthy and enjoy good food. No one else is a picky eater in our family, so how do I train her out of this? -Maria


Dear Maria,

You’re not alone in being frustrated by your toddler’s picky eating, but don’t let her get the best of you. Each day she’s learning more and more about her world and how to get her needs and likes met. And “no” comes easy to most 2 year olds, as you know all too well.  Children approach eating based on many factors, such as their sensitivity, activity level, age and development, environment, and likes and dislikes. Avoiding power struggles is key so your daughter can enjoy eating and develop good habits over time.  Here are some ideas.

  • Adults are responsible for providing healthy food and children are responsible for what and how much they eat. Forcing children to eat will backfire so it’s best to offer food but not insist that your child eat it. Encourage healthy choices without nagging or bribing.
  • Don’t give up when your child turns down beans or peas. Continue to offer different vegetables over time and try adding some good flavors, like a little soy sauce, hummus, or a light ranch dressing. You can also put some vegetables in the spaghetti sauce you make.
  • Eat together as a family as often as you can, and let her watch you enjoy your greens. When there are other kids around, or if you go out to eat, you may be surprised by her willingness to broaden her tastes.
  • You can make smoothies by blending yogurt or almond milk with fresh fruit and veggies. Carrots and oranges go well with a little orange juice and kale. Blend bananas and berries with a low sugar protein shake and add gram crackers for a tasty finish.

Bon appétit!


Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 44 years, a temperament specialist, and mother of four. To hear previous shows, go to, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM. She is also available to do individual temperament consultations, parent coaching, and workshops.