Monday, September 20, 2010


Yet another one of our parental gaps is our kids' nutrition. Well, that is not exactly right.  We do limit the treats, make every effort for the carbs to have a reasonable amount of fibre (i.e. bread, pasta) and don't allow sugary drinks - they both prefer milk and water to most anything else.

But when it comes to vegetables, they have the bilateral vegetable aversion.  Anyone in Husband's or my family will tell tales of how each of us were fussy.  Legend has it in Husband's family, that he had his own section of the fridge dedicated to him and him alone.  Severe punishment was visited upon the soul to cross the border into that sacred territory.

I certainly ate some vegetables, but didn't care for many.  I didn't care for the texture of many vegetables then.  Even now, I have a few I like to avoid.  Husband is pretty good but has his own vegetable no-fly list.

The problem with this is party because the ones I don't care for he likes. A lot. And vice versa.   So I really don't care for celery or peppers. I'll barely tolerate peas. Those are his favourites.  He likes to stay away from mushrooms and cooked spinach and those are my favourites.

So when it comes to cooking dinner, the intersection of vegetables we both like AND that we have in the fridge which is not growing fungus can be a narrow list.  But with trial and error and some vegetables that can be cooked or eaten by just one, we do okay. Usually.

The problem is that our overlapping veggies don't have much overlap with the kids, who seemed to each have their own preferences. 

We started off the kid nutrition on the right foot. They were 9 months old  each when I lovingly steamed or baked vegetables, pureed them and froze them in ice cube trays. I gave them 2 vegetables every night. They  ate everything.  I seem to recall them baulking at a couple veggies initially, but eventually they ate it all.  They also ate a wide variety of fruits.

But then we screwed it up.

We were so busy keeping up with preschool fundraisers and takeout menus those early years, that somehow the vegetable quotient was neglected.  By the time our kids were four-ish it was down right embarrassing.    Even their fruit preferences narrowed.

A friend at work told me that around age 7 the kids get over some level of their fussiness and start entertaining new foods. That was actually true with Jackson.  He started eating more things. He expanded his vegetable quotient to include peas and sometimes roasted cauliflower. 

For the past year or two Husband and I have tried harder to eat a bigger variety of veggies and fruits and offer it more often to the kids.  We've had some limited success.  Sydney added watermelon to her list of acceptable fruits. Jackson developed a liking for strawberries.  They both ate carrots once day with the inducement of peanut butter.   The kids learn about healthy eating at school so in theory they are open to eating healthfully.

Last week, I took a new tact. I asked the kids what new vegetable OR fruit they wanted to try.  I included fruit as it was the concept of openness and commitment I was after. So if someone wanted to try kiwi or raspberries, heretofore undesirables, I figured it would be a step in the right direction.

Much to my surprise, Sydney wanted to try salad. Importantly, she wanted to use our South African salad giraffe tongs.  Who knew fancy cutlery could be such an inducement?

Jackson wanted to try broccoli.

Sunday night we had salad and broccoli with our meal.  I told the kids that we would keep trying things as it sometimes takes TWENTY tastes for something to appeal to a kid.

Jackson went first: he held his nose, screwed up his face, held his breath and took a mouthful of broccoli with lots of cheese on top.  He said it was "so and so". By which he means so-so.

I told him I would take it! I said I felt so-so about peas at best but I ate them with dinner sometimes. He agreed that he could eat broccoli once a week.  After finishing the half dozen bites of broccoli on his plate, he conceded he was actually starting to like it!

Girlie Goo's turn. She used the giraffe tongs to scoop out some salad. No dressing.  She didn't care for it.  Not surprising. Sydney is actually a very good tryer-outer.  She rarely resists. She is also an expert spitter-outer.  She actually swallowed the lettuce.  She agreed to try it with poppy seed dressing which was deemed as "too spicy".  She spat it out.  She also gamely tried a large gob of cheese with a tiny amount of broccoli.  That also was destined for her napkin.

But she was not to be outdone by her brother acquiring a new vegetable to his acceptable list, and she continued to eat her tiny tiny bowl of naked lettuce. And agreed she could choke down some every week. We told her we'd look for a more kid friendly dressing.

And that is what we call success in this house.  Next up on the must try list: celery for me. Mushrooms for Husband.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

One thing that has worked here is the two veggie a night meal plan at dinner. We have two veggies (or, on occasion a veggie and a fruit) because the hubby and I like most veggies and NEED to be getting them in more often. The kids must each have a veggie, but they can pick between the two. This gives them a little power over which one they eat, but eat ONE they must.