Over and over again, I hear parents who are panicking about their kids not eating a balanced meal. The biggest concern is always with fruits and vegetables, which often causes parents to sometimes go to extra measures, hiding these food items in dishes. Although this may work for some kids, there is potential to have long lasting negative impacts on the kids if they feel they have been deceived.
Often dishes have fruits and vegetables cooked in them. For example, lasagna which is often a popular dish with kids has tomato sauce and sometimes spinach in the recipe. The tomato sauce may have other vegetables in it, like onions and carrots. As long as this is your standard recipe and you tell your kid if asked what is in the food, there is no issue. There can be a potential issue when vegetables are pureed, like cauliflower and put in the recipe so the parents feel better that their kid is eating more vegetables, and the kid has no idea that the food has a vegetable s/he is strongly against eating. There are potential things that may happen: 1. The kid stops eating lasagna, which was a favourite food previously, 2. the kid continues to eat the lasagna, 3. The kid stops eating a lot of foods when s/he finds out there are foods s/he does not want to eat and starts becoming suspicious of all food.
Often when it comes to food, parents have expectations and assume control over their kids by being enforcers of whatever belief the parent has. As a parent, put yourself in your little one’s place when in different situations and imagine if it was happening to you. Can you accept it happily? How would you feel?
As a parent, put food on the table that you want to eat, and feel is balanced. Invite your little one(s) to the table to share in the meal and enjoy! Remember, kids do not eat balanced meals every meal. Their intake is inconsistent and unpredictable.