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How to Get My Child with Special Needs to Eat More Vegetables

You know that vegetables are good for your child with special needs, but it’s tough to get them to try new foods. (Some of you reading this may be thinking: “That’s an understatement!”) We get it! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of simple tricks. Here’s how to get your child with special needs to eat more vegetables:

Add Them to Smoothies

If your child has a sweet tooth, it can be easy to get them to eat fruit but especially difficult to get them to eat their vegetables. Sneaking some leafy greens into a smoothie can be a great way to get your child to consume the veggies they need. You can disguise the taste with apple juice, pineapple juice, bananas – anything sweet, really! The trouble is that your child might be put off by the green color of the final product. You can try adding some food coloring in this case.

Puree Them

If your special needs child has a hard time with solid foods in general, then pureeing vegetables with other foods can be a huge help. Mixing veggies with sweet potatoes make for a tasty side dish! You can season the dish to taste, taking care not to add too much seasoning, as this can make the food spicy or difficult for your child to eat.

Pair Them with Dips

When it’s snack time, it’s so easy to grab for salty finger foods like chips, crackers, and popcorn. If your child likes saltier snacks and enjoys the crunch of chips, then they will love crispy veggies paired with a flavorful dip. Try some of these combinations:

  • Carrots with hummus
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Broccoli with Ranch dressing

Add a Dash of Sea Salt

All these processed foods can spike your child’s sodium intake, so it’s understandable if you’re wary of adding salt to your child’s meals. A little salt can go a long way, however. Sea salt, in particular, has a different texture from fine table salt, creating a sudden burst of flavor with each bite. Simply sprinkle some sea salt on slices of tomato or cucumber, and you’ve created the perfect snack.

Substitute Meat for Veggies

Substitute the meat in popular dishes for a vegetable. For burgers, replace the patty with a large, sauteed mushroom. This substitute is delicious, healthy and lower in calories! Here are some other foods you can substitute for healthier options:

  • Swap meatballs for zucchini in spaghetti.
  • Trade wings for marinated cauliflower.
  • Substitute chicken in chicken Parmesan with crispy eggplant.

At Special Strong, we understand that nutrition is a delicate balance for children with special needs. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping children and adults with special needs become the healthiest version of themselves. If you’re interested in taking your child’s health to the next level, consider signing him or her up for private training sessions or a local boot camp. We work with children as young as 8!


Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.

GET RESOURCES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS

GET RESOURCES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS