They Have No Idea That It Is Good For Them
You know what my kids love to eat? Junk food.
You know what I want them to love to eat? Healthy food.
So many things at the grocery store that are marketed to kids are really junk foods pretending to be healthy. Fruit snacks, I’m looking at you. I can’t be the only mother who has had an exasperated child say, “But they are made with real fruit. It says so on the box! Fruit is good for you!”
Why not healthy food that pretends to be junk food? That would be a great switch, wouldn’t it?
Most of the meals I prepare for my family are healthy and due to my own food allergies I have to cook most everything from scratch. Like most parents, I also think it is important for children to have a well rounded diet, though they would prefer to subsist on carbohydrates and sugar.
I have discovered in my many years of parenting that some universal rules about food hold true for children:
1) They like that which they are already familiar.
2) They like anything that is in cake or muffin form.
3) The more you want them to eat something, the less likely they are to want to eat it.
4) They believe you are secretly trying to poison them, clearly that is the only explanation I can think of for their reaction to new foods.
I am not entirely truthful to my children about the ingredients in everything I feed them. Mostly because children by their very nature are infuriatingly stubborn. My kids decided long ago that they do not like pork. No matter how many times I try to convince them that the dried up shoe leather I served them that one time was a mistake and not indicative of what pork chops usually taste like, they hold their ground firm. They will not eat pork. Not pork chops. Not pork roast. Not pork ribs. DO NOT TRY TO CONVINCE THEM OTHERWISE.
A few weeks ago I bought a pork roast. I told them it was lamb. Turns out, they all love lamb.
This time of year zucchini is plentiful and my favorite thing to do with it is make zucchini bread. Zucchini doesn’t really have a strong taste and once I throw a handful of chocolate chips into the batter my kids think it is a dessert. Last year my 5 year old son was helping me bake and saw me grating the zucchini. He looked at me in shock and said, “Is that a vegetable? In the cake?” You would have thought he just learned that Santa Claus isn’t real.
I blend foods and chop vegetables really small so they can’t be picked out and discarded on the side of the plate. I “hide” vegetables in foods they would never suspect. I rename foods that they have decided they don’t like. That isn’t pork fried rice! That is Chinese restaurant rice! Quiche? No, this is scrambled egg pie! You LOVE pie!
I figure what they don’t know, won’t hurt them. In fact, it will actually be good for them. And that is a win-win for all of us.