When it comes to vegetables and feeding kids two thing comes to mind for most parents, “how do I get them to eat more?” and “is hiding veggies a good or bad idea?”
Most kids don’t enjoy eating vegetables for a number of reasons, but here are the top 3:
- Kids are born with a survival instinct to avoid bitter tasting things. This is by far the best excuse as to why your kids won’t eat veggies!! And yes, you can totally use this excuse the next time someone asks you about it!
- On the flip side of kids avoiding bitter things kids are also drawn to carbohydrates, hence their obsession with crackers, bread, cookies, granola bars, and fruit. And honestly, not many adults I know would choose to eat vegetables over fruit (unless they were of course worried about sugar or carbs – but kids aren’t born with the “diet complex”)
Carbs serve as their primary source of energy as it can be quickly broken down to fuel their wild, and sporadic bursts of activity.
- All kids go through a stage of neophobia, or a fear of new foods. The fact that vegetables look weird definitely doesn’t help the case.
Now that we know why most kids won’t eat them, is it ok to hide veggies to round out their diet?
Before I completely bias you to my opinion, let me lay down some facts about the good and bad of hiding veggies.
Good reasons to hide veggies:
- An easy way to guarantee your kids are getting a wide variety of vegetables instead of just the ones they currently eat now.
- Can help you cram almost 2 times as many vegetables in pureed form into foods they already like.
- Helps you feel better about covering all the nutritional bases for your kids. AKA less guilt!
Ok, I do have to say those all sound like incredible… NO AMAZING reasons why you should 100% definitely hide veggies.
Now let’s dive into the bad side of it all.
Reasons why hiding veggies is a bad idea:
- Hiding veggies offers parents short term wins, but without seeing the vegetables and learning how to eat them in natural form kids miss out on a huge opportunity to develop a love of vegetables for the long term.
- It’s not if, but when kids become aware that they were duped into eating veggies kids can lose all trust in their once beloved safe foods. Picky eating, food refusals, food jags, and food strikes can leave many parents scrambling to find foods their kids will actually eat.
My thoughts on the what to do about veggies
Although I am 100% on team DON’T hide veggies, I think pureeing vegetables as part of recipes is great. So is adding vegetables to any number of recipes.
The key difference for me is intent.
Is your intent to be deceptive to “get” veggies into your kids diet at any means necessary? Or is your intent to add flavour, variety, colour, texture, and nutrients to a dish?
If you decided the benefits of team hide veggies is too tempting to pass up, at least consider the following:
- Serve dishes with hidden veggies along side with additional raw, steamed, frozen, or mashed veggies. That way your kids still have the exposure to veggies in their true form and learn to tolerate them until they some day love them.
- Find ways to make veggies more palatable for your kids by sautéing or roasting them tossed in butter and spices. Other ideas include offering dips or sauces, serving them on a stick, making veggies as an add on option to any dish.
- Allow your kids to cook with you in the kitchen when you’re preparing hidden veggie foods. That way you can talk about what you’re adding, maybe even have them add the veggies themselves.
Need more ideas on how to make veggies a hit? Check out this post, 4 Strategies to Take Veggies from Yuck to Yum.
When it comes to feeding kids, when in doubt remember parents provide and kids decide.
In this case, hiding veggies takes away a kids chance to decide hence the issues with causing mistrust.
Now that you have seen info on both sides, I’d love to hear your thoughts on hiding veggies! Are you team hide veggies? Or team don’t hide veggies?