Today I want to finish my posts about the book Deceptively Delicious by listing a few things that I think have helped our kids learn to like all kinds of food. This will be the last post dealing with why I did not like the cookbook Deceptively Delicious. If you miss the first two post go here and here.
Getting our children to eat vegetables and things that are good for them is more than just controlling what they eat. It is part of their training process. I think we need to realize that kids don’t usually know what is good for them. You have to teach them why they can’t run across a busy street by themselves. You have to explain the dangers of fire, or they will get hurt. I think some of the same reasons need to be applied to meal time. Kids don’t know or understand why carrots are good for them, and too many cookies are not. They just know cookies taste better than carrots. Take the time to explain to them why they should eat fruit and vegetables. Obviously, a three year-old will have trouble understanding why they need to eat peas, but a ten year should be able to understand why vegetables are important to our diet. The idea is that in the end they will be able to make wise choices about their food.
I think one of the most important things is to expose your kids to all kinds of food. If they see spinach served often, they will not think that it is strange. If you regularly serve vegetables and fruits, they will learn to eat them. They will know they are part of a normal diet, and they will think it is strange when they are not served at meals. I can’t stress enough the importance of starting this early in their life. When they start eating solid food, give the right food, and continue to serve them the right foods. If they only know what highly processed foods, that are high in sugar and salt, taste like, those will be what they want.
One of the other important things is the parent’s attitude. If daddy loves asparagus and encourages the kids to eat it, than they will be more likely to try it. If mommy complains about asparagus and says how much she dislikes it, but she only cooks it for daddy, they will pick up on that too. They will be less likely to try it. If one parent has a dislike for something, try not to voice it at the dinner table for all the kids to hear. I know I try to cook to please my husband, and if he really dislikes something, I try not to serve it. But if daddy will not eat peas, spinach, and cooked carrots, your kids will never be exposed to them. Young kids tend to do things just because mom and dad do them. They will automatically think peas are bad, if dad says they are. In reality, they have no idea what they taste like. They may actually like them.
An example of this is my sister’s dislike of peas. I remember her throwing them up when my dad tried to make her to eat them. To this day, she still hates peas. She knows though, that peas are good for you, so she serves them to her family. Now her daughter loves peas. She will choose peas over just about anything. If my sister had voiced her dislike of peas and complained and never served them, her daughter would automatically think peas taste terrible. Do you see my point?
I also think you can get creative in serving them, but not in the way Deceptively Delicious suggests. My family does not really like cooked carrots. I discovered though that if I roast the carrots on high heat in the oven, they like them. Roasting or grilling vegetables gives them more flavor. Another thing I do is to let my kids dip their raw vegetables in salad dressing. All my kids actually prefer raw vegetables. You can get creative without being deceptive.
Another idea, especially in the beginning, is choice. Instead of demanding that they eat peas offer them a choice. Serve two vegetables and have them eat one. If they get to choose between broccoli and peas, it is easier to introduce new foods.
I think we need to encourage and train our kids to eat healthy. We should not have to be deceptive about it.
Do you have any thoughts about encouraging your kids to eat vegetable?