Hey. Parents. Yes, you there – the one grating up a giant pile of carrots and capsicums and every other grate-able veggie on the planet, ready to smuggle into the pasta sauce you’re making for your kids.
I’ve seen you add pumpkin puree into muffins and I know that you hide veggies in fruit. I know that you tried to get the kids onto beetroot chips instead of Doritos without alerting them to the difference in substance; I know that you ended up surrendering and handing over whatever it is was the kids were screaming for at that particular moment in time.
You’re doing a good, honourable thing. You’re being a responsible parent by surreptitiously bringing peas into little Billy’s diet somehow – even if the method itself involves degrees of dishonesty, Billy needs those vitamins and nutrients and minerals somehow, and it’s not going to happen by him willingly eating peas.
And of course, Billy deserves a treat if he happily eats everything on the table. Right?
I’m so sorry to tell you, Parents, but apparently you’ve been going about things in the completely incorrect way.
According to Australian researchers, you’re actually doing a bad thing by rewarding kids with food when they do something good. Worst still – you’re actually screwing over your children by hiding their vegetables in their meals. By pureeing and chopping and grating and disguising those vegetables, you’re setting your kids up for a life of doomed eating.
The findings, published in the international ‘Appetite’ journal, reckon that kids won’t get used to veggies if they’re constantly hidden or disguised. The research generally suggests that a kid needs to try a bite of a certain food about eight to ten times before they accept it – even if they’ve rejected it every other time. That can’t quite happen if they’re not eating pure corn, but corn that’s been blended and made into biscuits somehow.
You’re apparently also sending the wrong message by hiding away those veggies; and worse, you’re developing an emotional connection to junky food as happy food when you use it as a reward.
I know. I know this study makes your life instantly harder. All this time, you thought you were doing a decent thing managing to trick your small ones into actually happily eating veggies.
And here it turns out that it’s not good enough – that you’ve somehow got to actually convince kids to sit down at the table and happily munch on those brussel sprouts. So that they appreciate them. And you’ve got to somehow do it without losing your mind from all the negotiation, whining and screaming that’s bound to ensue.
I am no Supernanny that confesses to have vegetable-eating-kiddie-secrets that will have them shovelling capsicum into their mouths. But I do have some suggestions that might just work for you…
1. Get the kids involved in the cooking process
Kids love getting in the kitchen and it makes it so much better for them if they’re involved in the whole process – picking the meal, using the ingredients, putting it all together…