Hiding Vegetables – Good or Bad?

 

First off, let me just say that I do not have any children of my own and I think that any parent that takes the time to cook their child a meal is a hero. So now let’s look a little deeper…

There has been a growing trend of hiding vegetables in food for kids. I remember watching Oprah several years ago when Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld’s wife) was on the show discussing her new book “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.” For many, this was a brand new concept and the perfect solution to getting picky kids to eat healthy. Several other books and blogs have since come on the scene such as, “The Sneaky Chef.” Inevitably, there are pros and cons of this food philosophy. Let’s take a closer look.

Pros:

  • You get your children to eat their daily dose of fruits and vegetables without a fight

Cons:

  • As Jessica Seinfeld says she is had to resort to “loving deception.”  The problem is that it suggests that you think that veggies aren’t likable and need to be hidden.
  • You are teaching your children that deception is ok, and sets you up to continually lie and could eventually turn into a feeling of distrust (they will eventually catch on)
  • It doesn’t teach children how to enjoy all types of food, or the importance of eating their vegetables. What happens when they go to college?
  • It further disconnects your children from the understanding of where there food came from. They can’t identify naked vegetables.
  • It can become confusing to children when suddenly their parents are encouraging them to eat the brownies (because they contain spinach). What about the brownies at the cafe or at little Samantha’s house?  The same is true for chicken nuggets dipped in cauliflower puree – why is it okay if I eat them at home but not at the drive-thru?

Teaching your children how to eat what is good for them is most certainly a difficult task. It may seem impossible, and secretly adding vegetables is much easier. However, I encourage us all to help the next generation learn to love good food.

  • Teach them where food comes from. Grow a garden, let the kids harvest and cook the food they grew.
  • Take them to a farm to see the animals and understand where their meat comes from.
  • Get your kids to plan a menu and shop for the ingredients (guidelines are always good here).
  • Make your kids part of the “deception”, show them how to add vegetables in dishes without it altering the taste. Do a before and after taste test and explain how cool it is! (great article on how to do this)
  • Overall, connect with your children through food – it can be a beautiful relationship when you end the fight.

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4 Responses to “Hiding Vegetables – Good or Bad?”

  1. Shelly May 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    Maybe I just got lucky but my daughter LOVES veggies, especially kale. She’s not a picky eater at all. I like to think it’s because as soon as she was old enough I started feeding her whatever we were having for dinner just pureed. She got brown rice and stir fry with tofu at early age. I’ve also heard that breast fed babies are more likely to enjoy a variety of foods due to the fact that the flavor of milk changes based on what mom eats where as formula tastes the same every time.

    If you start early with healthy foods they will have never developed a taste for junk. How can some one prefer nuggets to local organic chicken if they’ve never had a nugget! Or canned peaches to fresh if they’ve never had syrup soaked canned fruit!

    • Mary Crimmins May 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Shelly,
      That is a great point! Starting early makes the world of difference. I have never heard the theory on babies who are breast milk fed, but it makes sense. The problem is when parents desire to switch their kids from a highly processed diet to a natural/local diet. The transition can be really tough. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. Mia May 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    I completely agree with everything Mary said. I have three children, all breastfed till age 2. When I introduced solids (around 6-8 months depending on the child) I gave them REAL food, mashed up. We cook real food from scratch and stay away from anything that is heavily processed. All of my children at some point have gone through “picky” stages, but I just ride them out.
    Giving children a voice in what they eat helps immensely in getting them to eat healthily. Children of any age can help plan a meal or pick out veggies from the farmer’s market. Children as young as 2 can help with simple jobs in the kitchen. Getting children INVOLVED and talking about food and where it comes from is key.
    I really dislike the thought of “tricking” my child into eating something.

    • Mary Crimmins May 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      Mia,
      How cool! It’s so encouraging to see that so many moms started out early. It’s great to know that most kids will go through a picky stage, and it’s ok to ride it out and they will eventually move on. I agree with getting your kids involved, having ownership over something gives kids extra confidence too. Thanks for sharing!

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