Nina Planck at Huffington Post Twitter icon Facebook icon RSS icon

Kids and vegetables

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Every worried mother or father asks me “Do your children eat vegetables?” Yes, they do. Each one eats a steady rotation, a rotation that changes every few months or so, of whole, fresh vegetables which are properly prepared (usually with salt and olive oil or butter, sometimes raw and undressed). But not gallons of vegetables, and I don’t give them mega-doses of juices to get the doses up, and I don’t put beets in brownies.

Apart from some extremely sensitive children who are “all white” eaters—and those are special cases and the children of vegan parents, who always tell me how much produce the children eat (one hopes so)—few young children eat a lot of vegetables. This is normal. My emphasis at home is on nutrient-dense foods (including meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, good fats, and whole grains), not on produce.

Our family and culinary culture definitely includes ample fresh produce, and I expect that will, eventually, take. But meanwhile, I don’t fret over the size of the broccoli servings. And I don’t substitute any food “just to get something in their stomachs.” The best eater, at any age, is a hungry eater. Let them get hungry! If you fill them up on what they’ll tolerate every time (e.g. bagels), they’ll never be hungry enough for walnuts or roasted carrots or beets.

And even my own children, including one who is rather more selective and carb-craving than the others, surprise me. Said child ate the salad from my bowl today, and then asked for a personal serving. Local lettuce, good olive oil and balsamic, and good (bitter walnuts). Three Nina-sized servings later (in my big stainless steel bowl, each serving larger than any restaurant salad), the child was sated. Which reminds me. How do the vegetables you serve taste? If you find it worth eating, perhaps your children will, too. I’d go mad, myself, on a diet of apple slices and bland “baby” carrots.

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