Vegetable deception ok to get kids to eat healthy?

Filed under: Preschoolers, Big Kids, Tweens, Nutrition: Health, Mealtime, Resources, Books for Kids

Is hiding vegetables in your kids' food wrong? What if that's the only way to get your child to eat something green (that isn't a booger)? One cookbook author strongly disagrees with the notion that it's ok to sneak healthy foods into unhealthy ones, and she's aiming to do something about it. On her blog and in her new cookbook, anyway. Tanya Steel is the author of the newly published "real food for healthy kids." She's also a "food professional." She and co-author Tracey Seaman instead focus on glorifying vegetables and trying to make them more appealing rather than sticking them in a brownie. According to Steel, who has a good point, why would we want to send the message to our children that brownies are GOOD for you, when in fact we have an obesity crisis on our hands in the United States?

Steel acknowledges that not all children are that easy to coax into eating anything green. She also demures that it can be difficult to work your way back up the beaten path of feeding your kids things that aren't as healthy because you've run out of options of what they'll actually eat. I can empathize with this problem. We recently ended a bout of our son refusing to eat ANYTHING other than Cheerios. Sure, they're healthier than pork rinds, but I didn't spend my entire pregnancy eating broccoli only to have my kid refuse to even look at a vegetable.

Steel offers suggestions to help steer kids in the right direction. She suggests offering kids "no thank you bites" to get them used to a new food and making sure to set a good example by eating healthy foods yourself. She also, of course, promotes her healthy eating cookbook. "real food for healthy kids" may not be The Joy of Cooking that Steel claims (whimsically) it is, but I'm sure there's something in that cookbook, as with any book designed with kids in mind, to offer nutritious alternatives for our children.

What do you think? Is deception the only way to get a vegetable-refuser to consume some legumes? Or is it best to just keep trying to offer different kinds of vegetables in the hopes that eventually you'll see change?

Pic by Mike Licht,

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.