The hidden dangers of hiding vegetables
Oh yeah, oh yeah… you might think, dancing round the kitchen as you watch your child devour a home-made chocolate brownie. There’s a whole handful of spinach in that brownie and they don’t even know! I’m the winner!
Certainly, hiding vegetables in a sauce, soup, smoothie, muffin or any other recipe is one way to get vegetables into your child. But beware! It could be doing more harm than good.
If the hide-the-vegetable trick is working for you, it’s so easy to stop bothering to give your child vegetables ‘au naturel’. What’s the point? you might think. I know they’re not going to eat them. Well, here’s the thing. If a child isn’t frequently presented with vegetables in their original state, they can’t get used to them – and becoming familiar with the sight, smell and feel of a food and comfortable with it ‘just being there’ in front of them is a vital prequel to a child actually eating it. The constant exposure will gradually start to take effect (find out how in Lessons from a stick of celery). And as I always say: Your child can’t eat a vegetable that isn’t even there! Don’t deprive them of the opportunity!
So by all means, throw a load of extra veg into your cooking, but don’t stop putting a separate serving of vegetables (raw or cooked) on their plate too.
If one day your child catches you secretly grating courgette into their favourite pasta sauce or sneaking sweetcorn into the mixture for the cheese muffins they love, it’s going to destroy their trust in you around food big time! It’s going to make them suspicious and cautious about the foods and meals you serve them – and the very last thing we want to encourage is suspicion and cautiousness about food!
So while there’s no need to be showy about the vegetables you’re putting in their food – Hey kids, look, there’s a whole head of cauliflower going in this maccy cheese! – don’t be secretive. Let them see. And if they complain they don’t like or want that vegetable in it, just respond casually and calmly with those magic words: That’s okay. It’s up to you if you eat it.
We hide, disguise and cover up things that are ugly, unpleasant or wrong. Like a spot on our face. A stain on the rug. An extra-marital affair! And that is absolutely not the kind of negative message we want to give our children about vegetables.
If you like this, you might like How the #$%@&! do you get your child to eat vegetables?