So how do you make children eat broccoli?

Do you eat broccoli?

Do you eat broccoli?

If you have young children you will know how challenging it can be to get them to eat new foods, or eat those that are healthy.

When asked why they won’t eat, let’s say broccoli, children (and to be honest some adults) will say they don’t like the taste, they don’t like the texture or they don’t like the colour. The end result is that they won’t eat the broccoli.

What they will not say, any may not realise, are the potential benefits of eating broccoli.

Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber. It also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

Or to put it more simply…

Eat your greens, they’re good for you.


They won’t focus on the real health benefits of eating broccoli they will focus that they don’t like, they don’t like the taste, it gives them stomach ache. They will talk about how they prefer chips, that they have always eaten.

In many ways helping staff in using specific learning technologies for teaching, learning and assessment is like eating broccoli.

If you discuss the use of various technologies, you will hear from teachers and lecturers that they don’t like certain aspects of the tool or service, for example the look or the colour. They might say how it won’t allow them to do something in a particular way. Often you will hear them say, that though the tool does lots of things well, because it does one thing badly, or doesn’t have that feature, then they won’t be able to use it. They don’t like the taste, they don’t like the colour, they prefer doing what they have always done.

So how do you get children to eat broccoli?

Well shouting at them to eat their greens, generally doesn’t work with children.

If you try and explain the health benefits of broccoli, this generally fails too.

Sometimes you can try and mask the broccol, maybe with cheese or in extreme examples chocolate.

Though, personally, I find the best way to get children to eat new (and healthy) foods, is to create an environment in which they are not only willing to try new foods, they do so, and also seek out other new tastes on their own. This means they want to not only eat broccoli, but also, then want to try other things.

This isn’t easy or simple, but it does have the greatest impact.

So how do you make people eat broccoli?

Image via Steven Lilley on Flickr

One thought on “So how do you make children eat broccoli?”

  1. Interesting analogy. I would extend it to say you don’t have to eat broccoli to have a healthy diet and if all you offer as a healthy alternative is something which people don’t like, you’re setting yourself (and them) up for an unpleasant time.

    You don’t have to make people eat broccoli at all and if you approach the problem assuming you do, you’ve created a false dichotomy.

    The question needs to be changed to be “how do you help people embrace a healthy diet that works for them?”

    Obviously, the same applies to learning technologies. If you decide any particular technology is the right one and now it’s just a question of convincing people to “eat it”, then you’ve made a rod for your own back from the start.

    This analogy works well to show that people’s own preferences are at least as important as a pre-supposed “right” solution. Of course, that applies equally to the learners as well. As long as the cooks (LTs) don’t limit the options unnecessarily, at least the waiters (teachers) can server anything from a varied healthy menu (the VLE etc) to the customers (learners).

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