For one month she only liked broccoli. I tried apples, oranges, grapes, beans, salad, carrots and many other vegetables. But she only wanted broccoli. The next month after purchasing a brand new bag of broccoli at Costco, she went on a grape loving spree that lasted just a week and I was left with a large bag of broccoli to eat myself. It never seemed to end–the changing of the mind and the struggle to get her to eat her fruits and vegetables.
And I’m not alone! Many parents recognize the need to get their children eating more fruits and vegetables, but they struggle to actually get their children to eat them. The American Cancer Society has stated that the best cancer fighting effect any person can have on their body is to eat fruits and vegetables straight from their natural source. But recognizing and actually getting our children to comply is another thing.
And how many of us hid our broccoli or Brussels sprouts in our napkins? Fed them to the dog as a kid? Or just sat at the table for hours on end, refusing to eat them? Fruits and vegetables have long been the source of contention in many homes.
In 2007, Jessica Seinfeld, wife of Jerry Seinfeld came out with the book “Deceptively Delicious.” That same year, Missy Chase Lapine came out with the book “The Sneaky Chef.” The books quickly rose to become New York Times Bestsellers and favorites of parents everywhere for their creative and tasty way of hiding things like vegetables, fruits, and beans in foods but still making them kid friendly, good tasting and nutritious.
But with the rise in popularity of these books also came the controversy. Parents and doctors stating that children would never learn to eat fruits and vegetables on their own because they were hidden in foods. That children would never learn to eat the real fruits or vegetables, and would still continue to think that eating a meal without visible fruits and vegetables on their plate was okay. Many experts also argued that it might take up to 14 times of trying a new fruit or vegetable before a taste for it is acquired.
On the opposite spectrum were parents asking why they would want to fight with their children that many times over a new food? How realistic was that? Add to that the books never claim to eliminate vegetables and fruits all together. In fact, most of them suggest putting out a plate of fruits and vegetables that would have gone on your child’s plate as a side. They suggest putting them out right before dinner as children are most likely to be hungriest and wanting food at this time. And most willing to try to eat these strange and often bizarre looking new food when they are hungry.
So what’s the reality of the idea behind these books? That kids don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. And most feel that several high calorie juices are acceptable forms of getting their fruits and vegetables. But the fact is that our bodies need to be fed by a variety of different fruits and vegetables in order to have the maximum benefit. And most children don’t get that in a day. In fact, we need at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but many children only get 2-3 servings a day. So finding ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables is necessary. And this is a great way to do it in addition to teaching children to eat fruits and vegetables on their own.