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They Have No Idea That It Is Good For Them

They Have No Idea That It Is Good For Them

By Chris Jordan

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 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.


Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, the...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is almost 6.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  • Sam

    July 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    The funny thing is I already ddo this to get my husband to eat stuff so hopefully when my 5mo old is bigger I’ll hhave all the tricks mastered 😛

  • Alison C

    July 29, 2011 at 4:32 am

    When my friend’s son was small he would only eat chicken. So for a year or two she gave him “brown chicken” which worked fine until Grandma told him it was steak!

  • Nancy

    July 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

    We ate “e.. g.. g.. ” for quite some time before I wised up and realized it spelled eggs (which I had said I hated). My mother also called brussel sprouts “wisconsin cabbages” to get us to eat them. She was very sneaky. Many things also had only Hungarian names so we had no clue what she was saying.

  • Grammy

    July 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    My husband is a notoriously picky eater, and so is my daughter. So when the kids were young I made up fake names for nearly everything I cooked to make it acceptable to them. Quiche with tuna and cheese in it was called Tuna Pie.

    It worked until I told them what they’d been eating for the past couple of years, at which point they “got a little bit sick” if they tasted a dish they’d previously loved. I wish I’d never tried to educate them and just continued the big lie forever.

    So my only advice is to continue calling pork lamb in your home! The children will probably love lamb chops as much as they do lamb roast.

  • Clare

    July 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Scrambled egg pie! I love it.

  • Jenny

    July 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I laughed so hard when I read this. My son is an infant but I’m already worried that he will go on a hunger strike as a toddler when I don’t let him eat garbage. 

    I was incredibly picky as a child and basically lived on peanut butter and jelly and macaroni and cheese. When I asked my dad what the red liquid coming out of the steak was, he told me it was juice. Venison? Smelly steak. Pork chops? Dry chicken. I should probably start crafting my lies now…

  • wendy

    August 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    every casserole i make, my daughter asks, “what’s the creamy stuff?” and i always tell her it’s cheese sauce, because she won’t even try it if i tell her it has mayo (or any other condiment) as the base.

  • jblank

    August 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

    My son can’t stand green beans but likes beans verde. Food is a control/power issue.