How Laila Ali Gets Her Son to Eat His Veggies

08/10/2012 at 09:00 AM ET
Michael N. Todaro/FilmMagic

Laila Ali recently learned a neat trick to get her son C.J., 4 this month, to finish his green beans.

“My son is a little competitive,” Ali, 34, recently told PEOPLE of her eldest child with former NFL star Curtis Conway.

During a visit to a park a few weeks ago, C.J. challenged two 6-year-old boys to a race, but fell behind. “So when we got home he was like, ‘I wanna be six, because I want to be faster!'” says Ali with a laugh.

“So I thought, I’m going to capitalize on this, and I said, ‘Did you eat your green beans? Because they’re going to make you faster!’ And he’s like, ‘Okay!’ And now he’s eating his vegetables. Whatever works!”

It’s no surprise that Ali, an undefeated former pro boxer herself, is trying to set a healthy example for C.J. and his younger sister Sydney J., 15 months.

“I think it’s really important to make fitness a priority, and to schedule it,” says Ali, who, after putting on 40 pounds during her second pregnancy, recently completed her first triathlon. “I try to get it in in the morning, so running is a good staple go-to, but I like Pilates, weight training and spinning, too. I get bored really easily.”

What about boxing — especially now that it’s an Olympic sport for women? Not really, she says.

“I would’ve loved to have been able to compete in the Olympics,” confesses Ali, whose famous dad, Muhammad Ali, was the 1960 Olympic heavyweight champion in Rome. “To be able to be considered the best for your country? I would not have been able to pass that up.”

But those days are over, she adds. “I’ve been there, done that. You miss it sometimes, but it’s not like I’m going to go back. I’m just very excited for these girls — women’s boxing in the Olympics is long overdue.”

— Kristen Mascia

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , News , Parenting

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Sara on

I’ve done that, too. BTW, Laila seems like such a down to earth, caring person and great mother. She is also one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.

Jacqueline on

I’ve never understood the concept of “getting” your child to eat their vegetables. I have three boys – my oldest two don’t particularly care for veggies. *sn: my youngest LOVES them and can’t get enough!* But, that said, I don’t do anything to “get” them to eat them. They eat them bc I tell them to. What I put on your plate is what you eat for dinner and there’s not another option. I’m not mean to them about it either…they ask me EVERY night “Do I have to eat my vegetables?” and I say “Yep! They’re on your plate, they must be ate!” *I know bad grammar, but it rhymes and they think it’s funny.* and that’s the end of the discussion. Anyway, I don’t mean it’s bad or you’re doing something wrong if you “convince” them to eat them. I don’t mean that at all. I just mean I’ve never had to deal with it.

Anonymous on

Her father was the light heavyweight champ in Rome..not the heavyweight champ

Judy on

Thanks Laila for the input. I am finding it harder for my daughter Leyla, who is 4, to eat her veggies. She is at an age where she looks at her food and smells it before taking a bite and then she assumes she won’t like it. I began telling her that if she eats her food and veggies that she will have strong muscles and so far it’s been working. After she takes a bite she flexes her muscles lol 🙂

Anonymous on

That’s a great way for her son to eat his vegetables. Laila is so pretty and humble.

Rose on

Muhammed Ali is one of the greatest men to live. Read this man’s life, see how he stood up for human rights. He is worth emulating. Laila is lovely,too.

Tasha on

Good for her. Her family is what is important now. She doesn’t seem to be harboring any jealousy and wishes the USA Womens Boxing team the best.

Michele on

It sure as hell beats chewing them up for him and giving them to him mouth to mouth, no names mentioned, Alicia Silverstone…Yep, I still remember that

Stayce on

Clever mom! It is a challenge to get some kiddos to eat stuff that is good for them, so moms gotta do what they gotta do! ♥

Pam on

LOVE her!

boohoobytch on

adorable…I watched Popeye and was SOLD on spinach, which grew into anything and everything green. Then I think my Nana told me to eat carrots if I wanted green eyes LMAO. I’m the skin tone of Zoe Saldana and thought that would look FAB on me so I ate carrots like Bugs Bunny – never happened lmao. My younger cousin got the green eyes (also brown skin) and she’s stunning but I’ll never forget my reasons for eating veggies as a kid LOL

Stephanie on

That is right, whatever works! My kids veggie of choice is broccoli so I make that a lot! they also LOVE salads.

melody on

i love her and she is so pretty

Mommytoane on

Don’t be a hater Jacqueline. Not all kids love veggies. IJust be happy your children all love their veggies and don’t nitpick on those who have a harder time with their pickier eaters. Kids go through stages. One week my dd loves veggies. the next they are the antichrist. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and remember…kids are kids.
I remember my mom telling my brother that brussel sprouts would put hair on his chest. I always found it a cute, funny way to get your kid to experiment with more than whats in their current realm of favs.

cat on

Jacqueline, you dictate what your children must do but Laila is teaching her son some valuable lessons: 1) it is his choice to eat the veggies and giving kids a choice will help them later to make responsible choices and 2) he is working towards his goal to become faster which will help him to set goals and know that if works hard he will obtain the reward! Also, he is learning and teaching his sister some good habits. Can’t beat this lesson! Besides, you won’t always be there to choose for you children. So does this mean if your not there they don’t have to???