According to studies, things like raw onion, scallion, or garlic are extremely beneficial for one's health (there's clear evidence of anticarcinogenic properties and inconclusive but decent evidence of cold/flu efficacy as per Cochrane).

However, despite seeing a constant example (us) of people eating it, my child (5 to 8 years old) refuses to even eat a little of either of those.

How can I encourage her to start eating onions and garlic and chives, even a little?

Things we tried:

  • Explanation of health benefits (that generally works with her, it got her to like tomatoes)

  • She does NOT have a major problem eating them in cooked form (e.g. fried onions or scallion in an omelet).

  • She'll eat pretty spicy pickles happily. We pointed out to her that those pickles contain garlic (as she saw by reading ingredients), but that didn't change her mind at all about eating garlic.

  • Personal example (in case of onion/chives, even her brother eats them).

  • We encouraged to eat just little tiny pieces in "sandwich" with meat or bread so there's no bite. She tried once and refuses since then.

  • 1
    Debates about the potential benefits of foods are better suited for skeptics.se. If you need to discuss it further, please take it to Parenting Chat.
    – user420
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 19:17
  • @Beofett - skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/20727/1044 .
    – user3143
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 12:33
  • Are the benefits from the listed foods lost when cooked? If not, cook them into various foods that she does like, or mix them with food (uncooked). Chives go great with potatoes for a dash of color but have practically no effect on flavor and texture, for example.
    – Doc
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 14:02
  • @Doc - I'll need to do further research but to the best of my recollection, yes the benefits are degraded or lost. And the whole problem is that she refuses even mixed with food (such as with potatoes or salad :)
    – user3143
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 14:19
  • I recall reading in a cooking magazine that raw onions are made 'mellower tasting' by rinsing in cold water. I thin raw onions/garlic is a hard food to like. You may want to ask for recipe ideas on the cooking SE.
    – Ida
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 19:14

4 Answers 4


In my experience, spicy food is something that one can build up a tolerance to. Eat one raw clove of garlic, and it's going to be overwhelming. Eat them once a day, and within a few days, it doesn't seem nearly so strong (and yes, I've tried it; I used to use it as a means of discouraging mosquitos from biting me while spending long periods outdoors... I'm not sure if it's scientifically valid, but it seemed to work).

So my suggestion is to gradually build up her exposure over time.

Since you stated that she will eat the cooked forms without a major problem, I suggest starting with that. Recognizing that the long term goal is to get her to eat the foods in their raw form, for the time being just stick with meals incorporating cooked onions/garlic/scallions. Use those cooked ingredients frequently in meals throughout the week. You may have an easier time getting this to work if their presence isn't overly obvious. Sauces or casseroles would probably work better than stir fries, for example.

Then, after she's been consistently exposed to them for a while, start adding small amounts of the raw ingredients with the cooked version (i.e. after the sauce is cooked, sprinkle some raw onion/garlic/scallions on top, then stir them in). Gradually increase the proportion of raw to cooked, until you're at about 50% raw/cooked, and (hopefully) she's eating them without complaint.

At this point, you can ask her to try them in more "obvious" forms again (such as raw onion on a sandwich). You may find that she's changed her mind, since her palate will hopefully have become acclimated.


It seems, from what you listed that you are currently doing, that you have all your bases covered. She's at the age where you can somewhat appeal to her logically (i.e. the tomatoes), she has been appealed to by other's good experiences with the food (her brother), she has met you halfway on trying them outside of being cooked into something (the sandwich), and she has already encountered one form of them that she likes (the pickles). I think all you can hope for now is that eventually she will start to enjoy them.

I would say be consistent with what you are currently doing. Don't force the subject since that might make her want to reject them even more; but don't necessarily give up completely. Onions are a pretty important part of Japanese diet but our daughter didn't quite like them at first. After seeing mama and I chow down into some raw onions with our miso soup at almost every meal, she finally understands that they aren't so bad. We just had to stay consistent with only a little pressure.

By a little pressure I am referring to asking simple questions at mealtime.

Did you try your soup? Did you like the onions?

Did you taste the salad yet? It has some pretty good ingredients including tomato and garlic. You like tomatoes right? Garlic goes great with tomatoes.

The first example is one we use on a regular basis. The second is a potential example for you to use as minimal pressure. It's barely pressure, more like baiting. Just stay consistent with what you are doing. We also understand how important a healthy variety of vegetables can be.


Children are like any other person, and we all have food likes and dislikes. Furthermore, their sense of taste and preferences change rapidly over time.

My daughter went through a number of years where she didn't like tomatoes or tomato sauce or similar. She had liked it fine before, but for a while she wouldn't even eat ketchup on fries. All she could explain was that it was "too spicy," which I guess was her kid-way of saying acidic? Eventually her palate changed again and she'll eat most of it except raw tomatoes. It sounds like your child just doesn't like onions and garlic. I know adults who feel the same. Heck, now that I'm getting older I get a weird bad feeling if I eat too much raw onion so I've cut back on it myself.

It's OK to keep offering them from time to time for when and if a palate change comes, but consider that they aren't just a child, they are a person. If someone rides me day after day about eating something I just don't like, I consider them rude. It's one thing to insist on a healthy diet in general for your kid, it's another to force a very small subset of food they don't like upon them. It is rude and is teaching them to be rude when they want to get their way about something in the future. Ease off.


Have you asked your child what does she feel when she eats those foods? Maybe she feels discomfort that is related to something else besides just flavor. From what i read you want her to consume them raw, so for instance, maybe her teeth feel discomfort. I know it is difficult to get information from children, i've worked in a kindergarten, but your child seems pretty open to trying new things. Maybe the problem is somewhere else.

  • No, she has no problem texture wise. Asked.
    – user3143
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 23:35

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