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Deceptively Delicious Cookbook Review Part II

Yesterday, in part one, I posted about something in the book, Deceptively Delicious, that bothered me, but there is something that bothered me even more. I think this book helps prove the point that many parents, even in Christian homes, are no longer in control of their kids. How does food and a cookbook prove this?

Whatever happened to when mom said to do something, and the kids did it. If mom or dad said to eat your green beans, you ate them. I know when I was growing up when my dad told me to eat my peas, I ate them. I have seen a lot of homes recently where the kids control what and when things are done, including meal times. I think this shows the sad state of many of our homes.

My husband and I agreed early on that I was not running a restaurant in my kitchen. I would cook a meal and that is what we were eating. I would not cook one thing for one person and another for someone else. I can’t claim to be an expert in this area. My kids are still young, only 10, 8, and 6. But they are good eaters. My girls love spinach and asparagus. They love fresh tomatoes sliced with a little salt and pepper. They eat their fruits and vegetables.

How did we get them to eat them? First of all, we served a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. We exposed them to a variety of foods at a young age. They don’t find asparagus and spinach strange. Second, we taught our kids to eat what was served at a young age. Was this easy, no? Did it happen overnight? No. We had many meals when the kids were toddlers that did not go so well. But it was worth it.

Now meal time is very pleasant. Yes, there are things they do not especially like, but they have learned to eat them. If they don’t eat it, they go to bed hungry. That is the choice, and they choose to eat. I am not saying they have to eat a large bowl full of something that gags them, but they do have to eat a few bites. I really do not like peas or spinach, but I can and do eat them. Why? Because they are good for me, and because I want to set a good example for my kids.

When it comes to food and meal times, my husband and I decided it was a good place to start teaching our kids who was in control, us, not them. Our view on this was that it was one of the easiest places to start teaching them. If we could not get our three year old to eat their peas, how were we going to get our three year old to take their medicine that tasted bad for their severe ear infection? If we could not get our five year old to eat cauliflower, how could we keep him from hitting his sister? And how if our eight year old would not eat her dinner, could we get her to do her math? And if our thirteen year old fixed her own dinner because she did not like the one mom fixed, how were we going to keep her from leaving the house in an immodest outfit? Do you see my point? It is much easier to teach them who is in control at age three and four at the dinner table, than it is to start when they are thirteen.

We are surrounded by a me-me-me mentality. We have kids that run their house and run their parents. If you let them control mealtime, they will slowly control other areas. That is why I did not like this book. The book sees a problem, but assigns the wrong solution. I think this book is reinforcing the view that kids can control things. Kids can dictate what is done at meal times and other times. That view is far from what I believe and far from what I think is scriptural. It even actually adds to the problem.

I do not want to make it sound like we are perfect in this area. We have had many battles at meal times. Many times we were ready to give in and give up. But the battles we fought at meal time are paying off. My eight year old went through a time when she was three that she hated soup. I would set a bowl of it in front of her, and she would look at it and say “I can’t eat that”. Well, she soon learned that eating soup was better than going to bed with only a little dinner. Now she loves soup. My son has always hated pasta, any kind, mac and cheese, spaghetti, lasagna, and more. He has discovered though that he likes pasta with hot sauce. So, we let him put Tabasco on his pasta dishes, and now he likes pasta dishes.

My oldest daughter went through a time when she was very picky. She refused to eat almost anything. We decided that we had to do something because meal time was miserable. We told her she had to eat her dinner, or she would see it for breakfast. She did not eat it, so she was served leftover broccoli casserole for breakfast the next day. Well, she decided she was not going to eat it for breakfast, and so I served it for lunch. After all there is nothing wrong with serving your child leftovers. She then realized that I meant what I said, and she would continue to see it until she ate it. She also realized that it would have tasted better if she had eaten it the night before for dinner.

This had gone past her dislike of the meal. It had become a battle of who would win. I was determined that I must win it. If I let her win she would try to win in other areas. At lunch she finally decided to eat what was put before her. We have had very little meal time problems with her since then.

And just so you do not think I am too terrible, this same daughter does not like jelly. Why? I don’t know. When I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I usually just give her just peanut butter. I am not going to force her to like something like jelly that is probably not all that good for you anyway. I do compromise occasionally. But if I do put jelly on it, she does eat it.

Did I enjoy serving my daughter leftover broccoli casserole for breakfast and again for lunch? No, it was hard. The food looked terrible first thing in the morning. But I knew it had to be done. Was it easy to serve my daughter soup, having her continually telling me she could not eat it? No. It would have been much easier at the time to fix her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. But I was trying to see the big picture. A few unpleasant meals then, were well worth the time it took. We enjoy our mealtime now. I have had many people tell me how good my kids eat. I am so glad we took the time to train them in this area. We are hoping we continue to see the benefits in other areas as well.

Next week I will post some of the things we did to encourage our kids to eat a variety of foods without being deceptive.

Have you seen the book Deceptively Delicious? What do you think of the idea?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Catherine R. says:

    I linked to this in a post I just did where I talked about children’s need for discipline. Hope you don’t mind!

  2. No, Catherine that is fine. I am wondering though if I should stick to recipes. 🙂 I am not sure people come to my blog for posts like this. 🙂

  3. Mrs. Amy Brigham says:

    I enjoyed this post, Lynn. To be frank, I find the book "Deceptively Delicious" and the whole mentality that goes with it to rank up there with the stupidest things I've ever seen. Since Peapod began to eat solids, she's eaten whatever we placed before her and being the big meanies that we are, we haven't allowed her to have refined sugar or grains or any potential food allergens, nor do we buy fancy schmancy gluten-free chicken nuggets for our allergen friendly food. Now, at nearly two, she eats everything imaginable, favoring fruits & veggies over every other snack. I have seriously caught he eaten kale out of the produce drawer in the fridge and picking green beans to eat off the vine at the community garden as we're weeding. LOL. People are always amazed, telling us how :lucky" we are that she eats such "yucky: foods, and advising us that one day soon she'll turn up her nose at healthful offerings for McDonalds, despite the fact that she's never been there and will not go for a good long while–it's a gluten & soy filled place after all! ;o)

    Of course, this sort of child catering attitude is not just about food, and again we're big meanies who expect respect from our child. We do not spank in our family, nor did we do any sleep training program, but even still, we do *not* have a child-run household by any extent of the imagination. Instead we set the rules and follow through, disciplining with timeouts and natural consequences when the need unfortunately arises. When I've told people my age or just a bit older of our "child training" I'm always advised how harsh I'm being, as if teaching my nearly two year old to share with other children is some terrible thing. haha. Yet we are regularly complimented on having such a well-behaved child by older folks, my parents age & above, when we are out & about. Certainly we do not have everything right, how could we ever, but seeing the fruits of our labors when our daughter can sit nicely through a church service or having an elderly lady on the bus tell me she knew I was a SAHM as my daughter was such a delightful co-rider, at least makes me feel like swimming upstream is well worth the effort and we must be doing at least one little thing right. :o)

  4. MommaofMany says:

    I don’t mind this type of post at all. I totally agree, BTW.

  5. You said it well- I was actually expecting to see some backlash though, because when I have talked about the same thing people have not been kind. Granted, that was a forum, so they feel a little more “open” to express their thoughts.
    I think this problem is reflected in all areas of life. I minister in the birth/breastfeeding time in women’s lives and have been asked how we can get women to view birth and breast-feeding as normal, and no one liked when I said it’s the “me” generation– the reason they make the choices they do is because they are selfish and only think of their own comfort. The only way to counter it is to start training children at a young age.
    And it is so sad to see families so burnt out and in disharmony with each other because there are no rules, when it could be easily addressed at such a young age simply by being consistent and training them.
    I think you addressed something needed- because I’ve heard plenty of young parents ask how to even have sit-down dinners with their children and I’ve seen older kids how have no table manners- because they have never sat at a table to eat a meal. We need this in America- but we especially need this in Christian homes.

  6. Rachel, I really did not know what I would get for responses when I posted this. I almost did not post it but my husband read it and thought I should. Thanks for commenting about it. I appreciate the comments. I am glad to know at least some out there agree with me. 🙂

  7. I appreciate your post. We have been training our children in almost identical ways to what you wrote. We totally believe that the parents are to be the ones in authority, the children need to learn to eat something (and with no complaints) not just becuase they like it but because it is what is served and it is good for them. We also have the rule that if you don’t eat it for a meal (because they are to full or whatever) that is what you will eat the next time you are ready to eat(That way there is no way they can avoid something except a dessert or snack that they don’t like).
    That being said I was given the book Deceptively Delicious and I actually have liked the cookbook. I do not like the idea of decieving. I believe that to be morally wrong. But I do like the idea of putting more nutrition in everything I make. My whole family knows about the cookbook and sometimes they will make a game out of guessing just what I put in a cake, casserole, meatloaf or whatever. We still eat veggies plain as well but it is nice to have the extra nutrition in the main dish, breads and desserts.

    That was something I did even before I had the cookbook, but the cookbook did give me some new ideas. I think the reason I was given the cookbook (from a friend) is because she knew that I liked to cook healthfully.

  8. Abbi, I guess I can’t get passed the whole title and the reasoning that seems to be behind the book. I can see how you could use it to add extra nutrition to your families diet. So, in that case I think it could be good. And I am glad you find it helpful. It sounds like you are training your kids right in the whole food area. Most people are not. I guess I would have liked it with a better title and a different way of promoting it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Bravo!! Well said!

  10. Nikki & David Goldbeck says:

    I think it is a big mistake to “hide” fruits and vegetables in kid’s food. It does not develop good food habits for the future. I have presented my approach in my new book “The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond.” Out only a few months and already being bought in quantity for class use. I hope parents and teachers interested in getting kids to develop a friendly attitude towards fruits and vegetables should take a look at it.
    It is designed for kids of all ages as it is two books in one – children first learn their alphabet through produce poems and then go on to hundreds of related activities. Coauthored by best-selling food writer David Goldbeck and Jim Henson writer Steve Charney. More at HealthyHighways.com

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is great! My neice once pitched a royal fit at the dinner table. She was promptly removed, bathed and put to bed. (She didn't want to eat her spaghetti & meatballs). Guess what she got for breakfast? Yep, the same plate from the night before. She got it again for lunch. She ate it. There was never a problem at the table again. I could have told her not to mess with grandma.

  12. WHAT an excellent post, Lynn. I totally agree. Occasionally, a child just honestly doesn’t like something, after trying it many many times. At that point, I do offer a simple alternative of fruit and a pb sandwich or something like that, but that is a once every few months occurrence…

    I think a lot of this is a respect issue, and, at its root, a materialism issue– where kids are just used to being able to throw fits even though they are SURROUNDED by stacks of toys that would be envied the world over. Where kids are able to be brats about anything they do or don’t want, simply because they can.


    Anyway, thanks for sharing the link- your article is excellent.

  13. Thanks Jess!

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