Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Child Who Doesn't Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Over the next few weeks, I want to elaborate on different eating issues that our children might be experiencing.  Even though my mom was the best cook EVER, there were certain foods that I wasn't even going to think about eating.  I will never eat a lima bean or stuffed green pepper. To this day, I would seriously rather do my taxes than eat certain vegetables or fruits.  But that's ok!  Just like most of us, I survived my childhood without eating green peppers and lima beans.

The following research is based from The Ellyn Satter Institute and the information is presented to you unchanged. Hopefully, you will find this information helpful the next time your child secretly feeds their vegetables or fruits to the family dog!

According to the Satter, "Some children don't eat vegetables; others don't eat fruit.  Still others don't eat either!  If your child turns down either, or both, you are likely to be concerned because you have learned that they are important. First of all, relax.  Fruits and vegetables carry the same nutrients, so a child can be well-nourished on either.  Second, back off.  Pressure - even nice pressure such as bribes and cheerleading doesn't help. Your child thinks, "if they have to do all that to get me to eat it, it can't be good."  Third, enjoy the food yourself.  It may take years, but sooner or later, your child will learn to like the foods you enjoy.  Keep in mind the word is enjoy.  If you force food down because it is good for you, your child will know that and not learn to like it.

Get started with family meals, if you aren't having them already.  Maintain a division of responsibility in feeding. (You can learn about division of responsibility in feeding in my prior blog.)

Keep these thoughts and strategies in mind about your child's learning to enjoy vegetables and fruits (as well as other unfamiliar foods):

  • Observe.  Your child sneaks up on new foods:  He looks and helps you cook but doesn't eat, he watches you eat it but doesn't eat it himself, he puts it in his mouth and takes it out again.
  • Interpret.  Your child is learning to like new foods, not turning them down.
  • Persist.  Most children and grownups learn to like new food after they have done the sneaking-up bit 15 or 20 times - or more!  Most cooks give up on a food after three turn-downs.
  • Flavor.  Tone down strong tastes with salt, fat, sauces, bread crumbs, herbs and spices."

Carson eating his favorite banana flavored snow!