- May 27, 2015
- Posted by: Dr. Elise Cohen Ho
- Category: Parenting & Family
Do you lie to your kids about vegetables? Is this really a necessary part of your lives? Have you considered the answer to these important questions:
When is a lie good? When is lying bad? What exactly is a white lie? How does this all tie into food and what we feed our kids?
I am all for adding vegetables in wherever we can. I am all for getting creative in preparing food so that everyone is getting as many vegetables as they possibly can.
What I am not a fan of is lying to the kids and telling them that there are no vegetables in a dish that does include vegetables.
Nor am I a fan of NEVER showing the kids what the vegetables look like when they are prepared beautifully, or what they taste like when they are prepared wonderfully.
There has to be a middle ground.
For our meat eaters, I love, love, love the idea of rolling chicken legs in pureed butternut squash before coating it in bread crumbs for an oven fried treat with a considerable boost to its nutritional content. I would love this even more if the meal also included some delicious roasted butternut squash or raw curried squash soup or garlicky sauteed squash. Round out this meal with some greens, and it is wonderful.
I am sure that you understand where I am going with this idea.
I want the kids to get their vegetables and I totally understand that some are super picky and it may need to be hidden in their food. But, let’s also let the vegetables out of the proverbial closet and allow them to sit front and center on our tables. One thing is for certain, if the kids are not ever exposed to vegetables in their natural form then they will never learn to love and appreciate nature’s bounty.
Many different authorities (USDA, Center for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, your allopathic doctor, kids sports coaches, etc) will all have opinions on how many servings of vegetables per day is appropriate.
I am here to tell you that unless there is a medical reason, neither the kids nor the adults, can have too many vegetable servings.
However, starting with a very modest 3-5 servings per day would be awesome. Examples of these are 10 baby carrots, 1/2 cup cooked kale, or 1 cup raw spinach. By the way, a bit of spinach swirled into a fruit smoothie is absolutely delicious and does not change the taste of the smoothie. But be forewarned, it can make for a smoothie color that is less than pleasing to a picky eater’s sense of sight. When I first offered these to my children and their friends, it was always in a non see through cup so that they did not reject it based purely on color.
This brings us back to the lie, white or otherwise. My children are older and they are well aware of the fact that their food is full of vegetables. However, when they were young they were not as aware. I did not necessarily point out every vegetable that was in a dish. Similarly, I did not give the family a list of the spices that I had used to prepare their food.
If they asked, I told.
If they did not ask, I did not tell. It was, and is, a simple part of our lives.
New foods must be offered many times before a picky, or stubborn eater, will taste it. Some people feel that the best thing to do is to make a child try all new foods. The general rule is that they should try the food three times before rejecting them. Others feel that the clean plate rule is the only way to go. Still others believe that the best practice is to lead by example. Express your enjoyment in the taste and texture, of your food.
I recommend the third option.
In my opinion, a child who is forced may reject it regardless of the food. It may simply be due to their desire for control.