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Parenting advice for vegetable-adverse kids

Author James Dunsford
Submitted 24-06-2008

Getting kids to eat vegetables can force moms and dads to summon up all of their parenting skills, but sometimes all the cajoling and pleading in the world will not persuade a toddler to eat broccoli.

As a result, many parents are turning to sneaky tactics to get some healthy food into their children, hiding greens in everything from smoothies to muffins.

There are even books dedicated to helping them in their vegetable trickery, including Jessica Seinfeld’s ‘Deceptively Delicious’ and Missy Chase Lapine’s ‘The Sneaky Chef’.

Both books offer recipes which secrete peas, carrots, squash and a host of other healthy foods in kids’ favorite foods, such as pizzas and cookies.

However useful this may be to parents battling with their children at the dinner table, some nutritionists and public health experts suggest that in the long-run, they may not be doing themselves any favors.

Pat Crawford, co-director of the Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, told the Los Angeles Times: "Children should learn to make healthy choices … it really comes down to whether we are feeding our children for nutrients, or for the potential development of healthy patterns that are lifelong."

In addition, the newspaper found that many products which claim to be healthy, such as Frito-Lay’s Tangy Tomato Ranch chips, which purport to offer half a portion of vegetables, also contain high levels of salt, fat and calories.

For many people, the best parenting advice is probably to take a combination of both approaches.

No mom or dad is perfect and most are likely to have indulged in a little vegetable deception with their kids’ best interests in mind, but using other techniques such as growing vegetables or involving children in the cooking process from time-to-time can help to build good eating habits for the future.