Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spilling Secrets

Ok, I have been reading several blogs lately that talk about how their kids hate veggies, and refuse to eat certain foods. We have been pretty lucky in that department, because none of my kids are very picky eaters. I think partly it is luck, partly it is their individual personalities and lack of sensory issues, it might partly be that they are only 3/4, and we just haven't hit that yet, but it is also partly because of a few tricks that I use.

The first is the art of 'spin'. We learned from the King of Spin, our friend Kevin. Spin can be used for almost anything, but I find it especially useful for food. I never give them anything without telling them how YUMMY it is, and how it SMELLS SO GOOD, and how it is Uncle Dane's (or substitute anyone they love) FAVORITE. Once I was cooking broccoli cheese soup, and when I told them what we were having, they all started the screaming "I hate that" "it yucky", and on and on. So I told them a story about when they were little tiny babies, and I tried to give them bananas, and they spit it out, and I tried to give them rice, and they spit it out, but I when I gave them broccoli cheese soup, they ate it all gone. (This story is mostly true- they spit out all food, so I was accurate in saying they spit out the first few. And I did feed them this soup when they were babies, and they did eat it). I then told them it has been their favorite ever since they were babies. When we sat down for dinner, they gobbled it up, and it is now one of Abigail's favorite foods. We talk about how we cook the food, where we got the food, who likes to eat this kind of food, anything I can think of to get them interested in it. Tell stories about the food- a childhood memory, how a peach tree grows, how they harvest wheat, how to tell when a tomato is ripe. They will eat it up! Ha ha! Pun intended!

The second trick I use is reverse psychology. When I am cooking, they are always swarming me, trying to get bites. So I use that. "You can have all the chicken you want, but you can each have ONLY 4 carrots. No more than 4- these carrots are really good, and so I really need to save them for our dinner". They will each eat their 4 carrots, and then also be happy at dinner when they get more. The more you emphasize it, the more they will want it.

My third trick is to not let my tastes influence theirs. I personally cannot stand to eat a raw tomato. Occasionally on a hamburger, but other than that, they need to be cooked for me to consume them. But I offer them raw tomatoes all the time. Along with any other food that I think would be good for them. If I tell them something isn't good, they of course aren't going to want to try it (see #1 above). I also try to buy a variety of food that is different than my normal taste, to give them a wider variety of food to like. Like when we made pizza the other day. I gave a variety of toppings, most of which I didn't think they would choose (mushrooms and onions). If I was making the pizza with what I thought they would pick, I wouldn't have included those things. But they each chose mushrooms, and Jack and Aidan chose onions.

My fourth trick is to talk about what the food does for the body. Carrots help your eyes see really far away! Chicken helps your muscles be really strong! Fish helps your brain be really super smart! Cookies help your tummy get nice and round! This has been a favorite topic recently. They ask me at every meal what each food does for their body. Jack especially gets into this. He wants to be BIG and STRONG, and will ask for seconds of anything that will help him be those things.

A fifth and last trick is to change it up. How about dinner in a muffin tin? Or a salad and sandwich in a really big bowl? Eating in the dark, anyone? Try different temperatures. When they were teething, I used to give them frozen peas, corn and blueberries. They still think it is a 'treat' when I give them frozen peas.

There you go. I am really a wonderful Mother. Full of wisdom and great ideas. If you ever need help with your unruly children, just let me know. I'm sure I can straighten them out. (cue laughter)


Astarte said...

Smartypants. :)

I think these are great ideas. I bring home all kinds of things that I wouldn't necessarily want to eat myself, but that either I am willing to try or that I think the kids might like. I think part of the reason I myself don't like a lot of foods is that our house had a pretty set routine of foods. My husband is practically a goat, and thankfully our son is following in his footsteps. Josie, not so much, but I'm working on it.

Cecilee said...

I guess I need to try a little harder. Thanks for the ideas!

The Petersons said...

These are great ideas! There are a couple I haven't tried. Did you see the Oprah where someone had made a recipe book for "hiding" veggies into foods? Basically, she just blends up vegetables and adds the puree' into everything she cooks. I've thought of trying it, but haven't gotten around to it.