This is not going to be a post telling you how to sneak vegetables into your child’s meals, rather why you should not do this! This is based on the “Feeding Relationship” principles, which are cornerstone to creating a healthy relationship with food for your child.
Here are the basics: the caregiver chooses what food is offered, where, and when. The child chooses how much, or even if they eat. If the parent sneaks foods into the child’s diet, the child really isn’t the one deciding IF he eats the food. You are. This does not allow your child to experience that particular food and learn to like (or dislike!) it on their own. And at some point, they will also probably figure you out – possibly leading to distrust, a stronger dislike of the offending food and power struggles.
There are other ways you can get your children to eat fruits and veggies:
- Get your child involved. Let him pick out a new veggie at the grocery store, grow a garden or prepare the food.
- Offer the fruit/veggie at a time when your child is hungriest, and most likely to eat them. This could be snack time, or as an “appetizer” during the witching hour before dinner.
- Give the fruit or veggie a funny name. A recent study shows that if you give a vegetable a catchy name (like “super-sight carrots”), children are more likely to eat them, and eat more of them.
- Be a good role model. Let your child see you eat fruits & veggies. You can also try offering these foods with other children around, as we know kids like to copy each other.
- Serve veggies with a dip or sauce. Everyone has to admit – broccoli tastes better with cheese sauce, celery tastes better with peanut butter, and carrots taste better with ranch dip. Sure, you may just get your child licking off the dip…at least it’s a step that they’re putting the vegetable into their mouth!
- Offer the food in different forms. Like sweet potatoes mashed, baked and in fry form. Try veggies raw, lightly cooked or over-cooked.
- Try and try again. Children can have a fear of new things, called “neophobia.” They also have changing tastes. It may take up to 15 tries before your child will choose to eat the food, so offer the food whenever you are eating it. Or maybe they will never choose to eat the food – we all have personal likes and dislikes, so you can expect that your child will too. It’s all about respecting them as individuals.