Sneak attack: Pros and cons of sneaking vegetables into your kid’s meals
Children, as they grow up, tend to assert their independence and identity in many different ways. And one of them involves the food choices that they make. Unfortunately, most toddlers and pre-teens refuse to eat vegetables, which are so crucial for supplying them with dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. And this means, mealtimes often turn into battlegrounds, with mothers trying to force veggies into their children’s diet. However, as they say, where there is a will, there is a way! For instance, you might have considered sneaking vegetables into meals without your child’s knowledge. Though this sneak attack might solve your problem in the short run, it is necessary to consider its pros and cons in the long run.
Advantages of hiding veggies in your child’s food:
- Can increase the nutrient value of the dish: Due to their ability to provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body’s growth and development, vegetables cannot be omitted from your child’s diet. So, by sneaking them in, you can enhance the value of the food they consume and provide a balanced diet.
- It is a chance to add variety to the diet: By masking veggies with other foods that your child likes, you get to experiment with vegetables of different types, colours, textures and sizes. And this variety is necessary, so that your kid gets all the essential vitamins and minerals he or she needs.
- There will be less fuss over the food: When your child does not know that his or her meal actually contains a food group he dislikes, he or she is less likely to throw a tantrum during mealtimes. If the dish looks and tastes good, your kid will simply polish it off his plate in no time. Hence, you will get to avoid the usual hassle and tension.
Disadvantages of sneaking vegetables into your child’s food:
- Your child won’t get used to the taste: It is believed that when a certain type of food is introduced repeatedly, a child starts accepting it due to the familiarity of taste. However, when the original taste of the vegetable is masked, it might happen that your child will eat it once, but when it is reintroduced in its original form, he or she will reject it. That is because he or she is not familiar with the original taste, and this will take you back to square one.
- You won’t be able to increase the quantity of the veggie: As a parent, you might be scared that your child will find out that the dish being served has vegetables in it, if you increase the quantity of veggies. So, you might end up adding only a small amount of the vegetable, while your kid’s body might have a higher demand for it in reality.
- A loss of trust might occur: In case your child discovers a vegetable in his or her meal someday, he or she might lose trust in you and act out more. This might further increase their dislike for that particular vegetable.
- Sneak attack can reduce involvement: Parents are usually encouraged to include their children while cooking or preparing a dish, so that they can appreciate the value of natural and healthy foods. This way, they will also be more accepting of the meal prepared. However, if you plan to sneak in veggies without the child’s knowledge, you won’t be able to involve them in meal preparations.
- It won’t inculcate healthy eating habits: Since your child is not aware that his food contains veggies, it might make him or her think that by throwing a tantrum, he or she can get his way. Also, your kid will never understand why veggies are important for his growth and development. And this will prevent him or her from making healthy food choices in future.
Whether to sneak veggies into your child’s diet or not, is a decision you need to take, by keeping both the pros and cons in mind. If your kid is going through a rebellious phase towards vegetables, sneaking them into meals might seem like a good option. But in the long run, it might not help. So, you will have to ensure that your child’s dislike for veggies doesn’t become a habit and eventually a lifestyle.
A balanced approach is thus necessary, where you continue to enhance the child’s meals with veggies, and simultaneously tell him about the importance of this food group. Also, introduce each vegetable in its original form one by one. You can then inculcate healthy food choices in your child and even make him or her eat home-grown veggies. Remember to be a role model too, and eat the veggies that you want your little one to have.