Your child isn’t interested in their vegetables and they’re spending an eternity picking every little fleck of green off their plate. Who wouldn’t get fed up? You remember something a friend of yours told you: hide the vegetables! But is it a good idea?
Operation camouflage: ABORT
At first, it might seem like a good idea to camouflage vegetables on your child’s plate. In the short term, your kid would eat around 125 ml of vegetables more each day. Your child would be eating vegetables and you wouldn’t be at the end of your rope. Seems like a win-win, doesn’t it?
Nope! In the long term, by hiding vegetables, your child won’t get the opportunity to actually discover them. They won’t become familiar with them, because they won’t even see them!
Plus, they might get suspicious once they figure it out. They might not only suspect that there are carrots in every plate of mac and cheese if they found it there once, but they’ll think there are hidden vegetables in all their food. If you want your kid to get used to eating their veg, you need to be honest.
Operation ketchup: REEL IT IN
Using a lot of ketchup or mayonnaise to get kids to like certain foods is a common practice. The downside is that this is just another way to camouflage the real taste of foods. Not to mention their low nutritional value. Condiments have their place, but they shouldn’t steal the show!
Operation enrichment: ENCOURAGED
There’s a difference between enriching a recipe and hiding vegetables. If you want to enrich your recipes with fruit, vegetables or legumes to add fibre, vitamins or protein, that’s OK. It’s all about how you do it.
It’s not a bad idea to put squash puree in your muffins or mix cauliflower into mashed potatoes. You just need to be transparent and tell your child what’s in the recipe. Who knows—maybe they’ll find out that some foods aren’t as bad as they thought!
Operation variety: UNDERWAY
There’s a first time for everything, and sometimes the key to success is to take baby steps. Here are some ways to help your child discover and appreciate vegetables (or any other food):
Start by offering a small amount of the new vegetable so that they can get used to seeing it on their plate.
Let your child touch and smell the food without having to taste it.
Offer a variety of vegetables to your child as soon as they start eating solids. They’re more open-minded when they’re young!
Lead by example: eat the same food as your child so they can imitate you.
Above all, introduce your child to your favourite vegetables. The best thing you can do for them is to be a positive role model.
Written in collaboration with Gabrielle Proulx, nutritional intern.