Practically anyone who has ever been in charge of a preschooler understands that taste is fickle and may change according to the weather or tides. One day peanut butter is a favorite and the next it is despised. It is a chore for many parents to convince their children to eat vegetables.
With the childhood obesity problem only getting worse, many of us are desperate to include vegetables whenever and wherever we can. It has become trendy to “hide” vegetables into food hoping that children won’t notice. There are several popular juice drinks that incorporate carrot and other juices in with the traditional favorites such as strawberry and kiwi. Several bestselling cookbooks have also been released promoting the idea of hiding vegetables in dishes such as mac-n-cheese through purees and other methods.
What tips do you have for parents trying to incorporate healthy choices with uncooperative eaters?
Is secretly incorporating vegetables into our children’s diet a good idea, or are we doing our children a disservice? Are we teaching by example that it ok to be deceptive?
As long as a finicky eater takes a good multi-vitamin, can he or she thrive from a diet consisting of mostly juice, chicken nuggets, cereal and fries? Or is it better to deceive our children for their own best interest?
In the past, I have been able to convince many picky eaters (both at home and in the classroom) to eat their veggies by giving them alternate names. “Little trees” are more fun to eat than broccoli. When little boys are given a choice between spaghetti squash and “dinosaur brains”, you can guess which one is the winner. Isn’t this still deception, no matter how fun?
Many seniors have expressed that children would like certain foods if they were able to have a personal hand in the growing and harvesting process. This makes sense, but how many of us have home gardens anymore? Many of us with small children do not have the proper growing conditions, space or time to grow our own vegetables.
Other advice givers recommend sending children to bed hungry if they refuse to eat the items being served. This may work for some children, but if you have a child whom is stubborn enough to refuse all meals within a 48 hour time period then you are venturing into dangerous territory.
Nutritional deception: is it only a case of “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”? If I deceive in order to be health-conscious, am I setting up my children for moral failure in other areas of life?