Take advantage of television trance to serve vegetables

The beauty of this hack is that it encourages healthy snacking while not filling up the kids before dinner. From Jamie of Travel Savvy Mom:

Like most kids, mine go into a glassy-eyed fugue state when the TV is on. Then they immediately begin calling out, "Mommy, I'm hungry!" Since their prime watching hours occur between 3 and 5pm (while I'm scrambling to check homework, unload the dishwasher, fold laundry, make lunches for the next day, and figure out what in the world is for dinner), I put a platter of raw vegetables in between them on the couch. They almost always complain about my snack selection. And they almost always devour it.

Related: Crudite platter encourages kids to eat their vegies

More: Hacks for vegetables and picky eaters


  1. says

    This is what I do, and it does indeed work. I also include some hummus to dip in, too.

    Once when we had a little friend over for dinner, I included a crudite alongside the dinner for each of the toddler boys, and when the other 2 year old boy saw the small veggies all laid out in a pretty arrangement, exclaimed “COOL!” and ate them up.

  2. says

    We started using this trick. It became really clear to me how kids get so fat watching TV. The need to snack is huge.

    I second the hummus dip – get some extra fiber in there too!

  3. says

    When I am in trouble with a busy schedule, I buy the pre-cut veggies and dip in the grocery store. (The ones in the plastic container with compartments.) I can put that tray out in front of the kids with TV or just after school on the counter and its gone in no time. I save all the containers and when I am having a regular week, I cut up all the veggies after I shop( I do a couple fruit trays as well) and just pull them out as needed. I use the small size (about $5) so they are rectangle and all stack neatly on each other in the fridge. Fantastic, easy, healthy.

  4. says

    Love this site! And this particular topic was just a hot one at home… I blog about (unusual) movies and kids, so we spend a fair amount of time on the couch, and my son loves popcorn and rootbeer floats and milkshakes. (I’ve not done a very good job of bringing healthy snax into the mix.)

    So, recently, we introduced wheat germ to the popcorn. Much protesting. MUCH. But i’ve stuck to my guns and I think it’s growing on him.

    I’d love other ideas… Unfortunately, he views carrot stix as dinner items, so I don’t think they’ll fly as a movie snack.

    I’m adding a few parent sites/blogs to my own blog later today, and will definitely add ParentHacks. Glad I found you!


  5. Rebecca says

    This DOES NOT work at my house. My children don’t eat if the TV is on. They sit and stare. We have to be very selective about tv time because NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS WHEN THE TV IS ON! While some of your kids have a TV trance, mine have a TV coma!

  6. Anonymous Coward says

    The glassy-eyed fugue state is our primary reason for avoiding TV altogether until reading age, and substantially limiting it thereafter.

    Experiments conducted by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers are watching television, the right hemisphere is twice as active as the left, a neurological anomaly. The crossover from left to right releases a surge of the body’s natural opiates: endorphins, which include beta-endorphins and enkephalins. Endorphins are structurally identical to opium and its derivatives (morphine, codeine, heroin, etc.). Activities that release endorphins (also called opioid peptides) are usually habit-forming.

    At least make them fold the laundry while watching!!

  7. says

    We usually have carrot sticks, red capsicum (i think you guys call them bell peppers over there – I am in Oz)and sometimes peas as a pre dinner snack. This is not related to TV viewing, but just stringing them out until dinner is ready. Sometimes they eat more veggies before dinner than during.

  8. Darin says

    Seriously? You are willing to turn your child’s mind to mush in order to get them to eat a carrot stick? Tell them to go outside and play – when they come back in after having worked up an appetite, they’ll eat what they are offered or nothing at all. Better yet, teach them that eating well is a good and necessary thing from their first solid foods – that’s what I did and my kids love fruits and veggies – they’ll hit the veggie tray before they hit the cookie platter every time! Teach them self-mastery from an early age!

  9. joy says

    i think some people need to get off their high horse and recognize that good parenting decisions are not IDENTICAL parenting decisions.
    this is about the cleverest veggie idea i’ve ever heard. it would definitely work for a couple kids i know!

  10. Darin says

    It isn’t a high horse – every parent has an equal opportunity to screw up their kid – it’s just a question of where you want to do it. Some of us see the dangers in allowing kids to go into that TV trance as it was called here. Yes, this ‘trick’ may get kids to eat their veggies, but the better question in my book is why allow kids to go into that trance? Those of us that are against it have read research that suggests excessive (defined as more than 60 minutes a day) TV watching is not good for the kids. Joy, with all due humility and respect, you seem to disagree, can you point to studies that show that it is in fact good for them? I would really love to read those studies.

  11. Cathy says

    Letting children eat in front of the television is a set-up for future weight problems. It starts with vegetables, but it might continue with junk foods in the future when parents aren’t around. Mindless eating, no matter what food it is, is not a good thing.

  12. Parent Hacks Editor says

    I think Cathy’s is a good point: mindless eating isn’t a good habit to encourage. But I also think that, for those whose lives include TV watching, demonstrating that vegies are good for snacking is a fine compromise.

  13. Joy says

    i absolutely can’t defend excessive TV watching, for kids or adults. i personally grew up without TV, and my child will do the same. however, i have two nieces whose lives do include some TV time most days, and i know that this little trick would be a clever way to better balance their diets. the key to remember is that many kids are already watching TV each day, and probably snacking on cheetos. with that being the reality, this hack is super.

  14. Dizzy Carter says

    I will start out by saying that I am against TV for children for many reasons and I don’t have cable at my house.

    Having said that, there are many of us who wish we could parent in an ideal situation but our lives took other turns. Many of us have to make “rock-and-a-hard-place” decisions. Instead of choosing what is ideal, from a group of good things, we have to decide what is least harmful in this place at this time.

    One hour of children in a semi-coma, safe in your living room buys precious time for a working mother or a working single parent whose lives are a daily hassle to find quality parenting time in a life filled with never-enough-time.