To Hide Or Not To Hide?

Healthy eating with a family can be tricky. You want to cook one meal so that the parents and the children eat the same meal. But getting your children to eat vegetables can be a bother.Rhian - tomato soba noodles

So, how do you follow a healthy eating plan or a weight loss diet and cook one meal? Do you or should you hide the veggies to get them to eat them?

The majority of the time I am not an avid supporter of hiding vegetables. It is really last option stuff. There are many ways to get your children (and husbands) to eat vegetables without hiding or bribing them. And here they are!

1.       Parental modelling.

Especially for young children, the most influential way to get your child to eat new foods, including vegetables is to eat them yourself. This is even more the case if you are a mother. Maternal modelling has shown to be the most influential in getting your child to eat new foods.

2.       Cook the foods in different ways.

Some children are bothered by textures. This might be bitty texture or mushy texture. It is up to the individual preference. Therefore, although a child may protest they hate pumpkin, maybe it is because it has been steamed beyond belief and collapses on the plate. Where as baked or roasted pumpkin has a delicious crunchy outer and is generally a little firmer.

Don’ t give up on a food after the first rejection, try again and again and then cook it differently.

Think steamed, baked, stir fried, roasted, BBQd and even lightly fried. Even think of batters or different types of crumb you could roll the food in.

3.       Talk about the food

Talk about what you will be eating with your kids for the week. Even plan the menu plan together so that it is not a complete surprise.

Most kids like routine and knowing what is coming next. If they know what is for dinner, they are a little prepared for it.

When talking about food, avoid the words treat or unhealthy or even healthy foods. Some positive language words include talking about how the foods make you feel. Phrases such as, every day foods or even foods which make us grow strong.

4. Grow/shop and cook the food together

I am not insinuating you grow your whole menu in your garden, but if you grow some things in the garden they can become more attached to the food and the process plus learn so much.

Shopping for the foods, letting children gather the items off the list is a fun way of firstly getting the shopping done without tantrums, but also gives them control over the foods they have chosen. This can also be achieved by putting foods away when you get home.

Cooking can be a juggle with kids but there are little things they can do with some assistance.

– Make the marinade for the meat

– pound some herbs in a mortar and pestle

– pick herbs

-cut soft items

– rip up a salad

– or just simply retrieve the food items from the fridge or cupboard.

5. Get acceptance and then talk

If you do have to hide the foods or vegetables to get them to eat them, give the child time to firstly enjoy the food. After a few meal occasions with the hidden key vegetable, let the child know that say this Bolognese sauce actually has spinach in it and remind them that they love it.

You might get initial rejection of the meal, but hopefully they realise that they actually do enjoy spinach in the said meal and then you can try and introduce spinach in another meal and if they like it, identify again that spinach is present, so really, they must like spinach.

Maybe then, they will try spinach by itself without hiding, or accept it in meals knowingly.

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