People ask me how I get my kids to eat so well. Honestly, I don’t think I did anything special. I just served them food. They ate it. Oh, my kids all avoid certain things. Collin hates cinnamon and mustard. Sean isn’t always sure about rice. Maura won’t touch kiwi…literally. But for average kids, they have a wide range of foods they’ll at least try.
We’ve done things to encourage them to eat. If they don’t want to try something, we’ll say they have to try a spoonful – after that, if they don’t like it, fine. Usually, they decide they like it and want more. We’ll have them help us cook. I’ll let them pick out weird fruits or veg at the store to try at home.
The one thing we don’t do – play edible hide-and-seek.
I think this is a growing phenomenon. You know, the whole “Deceptively Delicious” trend, where you make “fun” foods in which you hide nutrition in it. Like the juice that looks like apple juice but has vegetables in it. Or the commercials where moms are smacking down dads who notice the noodles in a can has a whole serving of vegetables in it – because heaven forbid dad mentions out loud that there are vegetables in the meal. The kid won’t eat it if he knew!
No, we don’t play that here. I’m not saying we disclose every ingredient in the meal. And we have had to have the discussion on why you need to eat vegetables. But I’ve never gone out of my way to hide stuff in food. Think about it – if you spend their childhood hiding the nutritious stuff within layers of pizza sauce or nugget dip, what are the odds they’ll voluntarily eat that cauliflower as a teen or adult? One of our jobs as a parent is to teach them healthy eating habits – it’s more important now than ever, as there are many more unhealthy options than healthy ones out there. I was in a local grocery store, newly remodeled, and the frozen pizza section was four times as long as the frozen vegetable section. I love pizza, but even I could see there was something wrong with that.
Mind you – I’m not the mom to put up on a pedestal. My kids get giddy over sugar cereal and have their preferred frozen breaded chicken product. At the same time, they get excited over watermelon, scoff down bananas by the boatload, and ate all the stir fry I made tonight (chicken and Thai stir fry veggies with peanut sauce and rice noodles.) So I’m doing a few things right.
Do note – I know there are kids with actual food issues – sensory disorders and the like. In these cases, I am all for doing what you have to do to get the proper nutrition in them.