Using the Scientific Method to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies

YUM!Fed up with pouts and whines at the dinner table, I knew I had to take action to get my second grader to eat his vegetables. Like lightning, mid-meal, the brainstorm of a lifetime struck. Mommy brilliance is a rare and beautiful thing; and therefore, dear reader, I shall share my epiphany with you.

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There are two truths about my son. He loves science and hates vegetables. So, thought I, was there a way to use his love of science to turn his hatred of vegetables around? Oh yes, indeed there was.

I prepped him the next morning.

"Tonight, at dinner, we're going to do a science experiment," I informed him.

"What kind?" His interest was piqued.

"A cool kind," I said coolly. "You'll be the scientist, I'll be your assistant."

Off to school he went, just dying to know what madness I had in mind.

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I went to the grocery store and bought one of every vegetable. One cucumber, one carrot, one tomato, one snap pea, one mushroom, etc. I came home and created bite size portions of each vegetable. Preparing them appropriately and tastily (a little olive oil, a pinch of salt...) I set each morsel in its own little glass dish and laid out a tasting fork on a cloth napkin. I got out the clip board to make it official. Using construction paper, I created a vegetable chart, listing each veggie on the left side of the page. My son's lost lab goggles were easily found, as was my Clinique lab coat, leftover from a day job at Macy's long ago. The clock ticked down 'til dinner.

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After school activities distracted us all, until at last it was supper time.

"Put this on," I said pointing to the goggles and lab coat, "you'll need it."

Now in costume, looking like a short make-up consultant about to go to wood-shop class, my son sat at the dinner table.

"Ok," I started, "here's the experiment. You claim that you hate all vegetables, is that correct, sir?"

He nodded, confused.

"So, that is your hypothesis. Correct?"

"Uh-huh."

"Well, I have created an experiment to test your theory." With a flourish I set out the veggies. "Each vegetable has been prepared. You must take one bite of each vegetable and then rank it on this chart," I presented the clipboard. "Number one means it's inedible; the worst vegetable of all time. Makes you wanna puke. Number ten means it's fantastic; the greatest veggie of all time. You wanna eat it all day long. Number five means it's tolerable. You could eat it without gagging. Get it?"

"Yeah."

"Ok, Mr. Scientist, you may proceed."

There was a glimmer in his eye. He knew exactly what I was up to, but he couldn't resist the charade. As I held my breath, that little veggie hater tasted (I cannot vouch for swallowing) each and every vegetable and ranked them rationally and appropriately. By the end of the experiment, there were four vegetables that had been ranked at number five. And peas, had been granted a seven.

"Aha," I said professionally. "It appears that based on your scientific evaluation, that there are actually 5 vegetables that you deem edible. Is that correct?"

"Yes, that is correct."

"Well then, we have disproved your hypothesis that you hate all vegetables. Starting this evening, I will begin to serve you only those vegetables that you have ranked a five or above. Now that we agree that they are acceptable to you, you should be able to eat these vegetables without pouting or whining. Correct?

"Uh-huh."

"In six months we will repeat this experiment to determine if your taste buds have changed at all. Shall we mark it in the calendar?"

"Ok."

"Ok, then. Dinner is served."

And with that, my little scientist sat down to dinner and ate his peas without complaint while in my brain a crowd of spectators applauded wildly.

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