Why Some Kids Hate Vegetables

When my husband and I began dating, he had just moved into his first apartment and was living on his own for the first time in his life.  His diet consisted of three things: microwave pizzas, frozen chicken nuggets with fries, and chips with queso.  My first experience living completely on my own involved almost daily trips to a salad truck in my west Philly neighborhood near my school.  I loved the fresh vegetables and the cheap meal and suddenly I was thinner and healthier than I’d ever been in my life.  Somehow when we moved in together two years later, the salads stayed behind and the frozen food joined us in the new place.  We got married, I gained weight, we both became less healthy.  I’ve been struggling ever since to convince my husband to eat green foods and yes, food that has never been frozen or processed in any way.

Fast forward to 2004 and the birth of our first child.  Like most parents, we introduced veggies before fruit knowing full well that no baby in her right mind would eat pureed spinach if she had the option to eat mushy bananas.  Mmmm, mushy bananas.  We were met with some dissent during our first attempt at veggie eating…

Two and a half years later our son joined our family and he, too, was not a fan of the veggies, especially the green ones.  We started with squash for him, too….apparently on a Saturday.

Unfortunately, he was also anemic, and so pushing those leafy greens that are rich in iron became a priority.

Behold, the power of Hidden Valley Ranch.

The way that we have always convinced our kids to eat veggies is to provide them with Hidden Valley Ranch for dipping.  My daughter has begun to join me in my love for veggies, but always needs her Ranch by her side.  My son still isn’t a big fan, but he hangs in there, dipping away.

And my husband?  He needs some Ranch for dipping, too.

So why do some people – like me – crave a plate of raw broccoli in the middle of the day while other people avoid it like the plague?  A study released last November suggests that dip can sooth bitter-sensitive taste buds in children.  It turns out that some people are just genetically more sensitive to bitter, and the dip acts as a way to block that sensitivity.  In fact, the study found that 70% of children tested were bitter-sensitive (meaning bitter foods, such as broccoli and cucumber, have a very unpleasant taste to them), but consumed 80% more vegetables when offered a dip (in the study’s case – Hidden Valley Original Ranch) than kids who weren’t given a dip.

As a member of the Hidden Valley Love Your Veggies Parenting Panel, I was provided with testing strips to test which members of my family were sensitive to bitter.  I went first, touching the strip to my tongue and then nearly eating the thing in case I had done it wrong.  All I tasted was paper.  No other sensation.  My daughter went next, and while she wrinkled up her nose, she certainly was not as upset as that day we gave her squash for the first time.  She said yuck and we moved on.  So one kid had a sensitivity to bitter, but not a strong one.  Now came my son.  He also made his ick face and asked for a glass of milk but conceded it wasn’t awful, just bad.

I began to wonder if maybe the strips didn’t work.  Had something happened to them while being shipped here?  Or maybe the line between bitter sensitive and not bitter sensitive was somewhat blurry.

Then my husband came home and I handed him a strip.  We giggled as he put it in his mouth, but the giggles stopped when the poor man ran to the sink and began spitting, begging for a glass of water.  So that is the reason he only ate frozen pizzas in grad school.

This mom – and wife – is thankful to have Hidden Valley Ranch to help her family love their veggies.

How about your family?  Veggie eaters?  Bitter food haters?  Ranch dippers?

This post was written in conjunction with my position on the Hidden Valley Love Your Veggies Parent Panel.  As a panelist, I am compensated for my time as well as my posts and have received product to test.  All opinions and bitter sensitive family members are my own.  


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  • Love the baby pics, precious, and love the colorful veggie pic. And now you have thrown me right into a flashback of my grandma mixing up Hidden Valley Ranch dressing from the dry packet with sour cream and mayo…old school style, before you could buy it in a dressing bottle.

    And now it is very apparent that I am oolllld.

  • Tara

    We were Ranch dippers turned into Veggie eaters. The ranch was used by my mom to introduce us to the population of veggies; once we got used to it, ranch was no longer a necessity.

  • maria

    At first, I never grew up eating vegetables didn’t like them, but when I started eating organic the flavors was so delicious even my kids loved them, so basically no Ranch..

  • My son is 24 and still won’t eat his vegetables and yet both my husband and I crave them. I’m still wondering about a hospital switch with this one 🙂

  • My daughter is 4 & 1/2 & hates veggies & dipping. She only likes hummus. She likes to dip pretzels & chips in the hummus, not veggies. She won’t try any other dipping items.

  • Anna the Flutist

    I have quite the aversion to strong flavors. I like lightly steamed broccoli, but I can’t even go near red meat.