Should you hide vegetables in your child’s meals? Is hiding vegetables a good idea? Here are our thoughts on how hiding vegetables can backfire and what to do instead.
Think it’s a good idea to hide veggies in your kid’s food? Think again!
We know hiding vegetables is something that many of the parents today grew up experiencing in their own childhood. We also know that it’s an easier way to get out kids to actually put vegetables in their mouths.
But at the end of the day, setting our children up for nutritional success – and teaching them healthy eating habits that will serve them well for life – depends on transparent exposure to all sorts of foods, including those they don’t like (yet).
Why hiding vegetables is a bad idea
Here are three reasons why we don’t recommend regularly hiding your child’s veggies.
1. It’s a temporary solution
While sneaking veggies into food provides a short-term solution to your eating issues (it gets nutrients into picky kids’ bodies), it does nothing for the long-term goal of getting them to enjoy these foods.
Kids need repeated exposure to develop acceptance for foods they don’t innately enjoy. By adding veggies into food in an unrecognizable form they miss the opportunity to experience tastes, textures, shapes, and colors.
2. It erodes trust
Kids need to trust that you have their best interest in mind. If they find out you’re misleading them, they’ll be even less likely to try new foods in the future.
3. It demonizes veggies
Hiding veggies tell kids that veggies are a bad food that people have to be tricked into eating. We want veggies to be celebrated!
What to do instead
Okay, so hiding vegetables is out. What do you do now? Our solution: be honest, be creative, and be in it for the long haul!
You can totally add veggies to food in interesting ways, like putting riced cauliflower in oatmeal or pureeing carrots into tomato sauce, but be honest about it. If your kids ask, tell them what’s in the food, or better yet, have them help you make it!
Continue to also expose them to veggies in their “natural” state, i.e. a stalk of broccoli vs. finely chopped broccoli mixed into macaroni. They make shun it every time, but continuing to provide it on the plate builds exposure, which will pay off in the long run.
Offer opportunities for food play! Allowing your child to play with their food in intentional ways can help take away the pressure from eating and make it a more welcoming, low-stress situation in which they’re more likely to try something they may not normally. Need inspiration? See these food play ideas.
Should you hide vegetables in your child’s meals? We don’t recommend it. Instead, try exposing your child to vegetables head-on using transparency, inclusion, and opportunities for food play.
Chime In: What do you think about hiding vegetables with your kids? Have you ever done it?
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