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To hide or not to hide – the million dollar question for many parents.  Today I share why you might consider ‘hiding’ foods, but how to avoid having to do it forever.  There are (short term) advantages and (long term) disadvantages to hiding food – here are my thoughts on the great debate.

 

Hiding to correct nutritional deficiency

Nutritional deficiency effect a child’s desire and palate for food, this I know.  So when a child is fussy because they have developed a nutritional deficiency (because they eat poor quality or a poor variety of foods), hiding as much nourishment as possible can go a long way to correcting the deficiency and reinstating a desire to eat whole foods.  Many adults recognise that the better they eat, the more they want to eat better. The same goes for children.  So this is the overwhelming advantage of hiding foods, but it is NOT a long term solution.

 

Not a total solution

Hiding food is all well and good when they are little, however, you won’t be hiding avocado in their smoothie or zucchini in their pasta sauce when they are 20!  Whilst hiding food can promote better nutrition and therefore more desire for healthier foods, you are teaching your kids nothing about the importance of eating ‘whole’ real foods.  I tend to look at including (for example) grated or pureed vegetables in a meal as ‘boosting’ the nutritional potential, flavour and texture of a meal rather than ‘hiding’ it.  But for arguments sake in this post, we’ll call it ‘hiding.’

 

How to hide and at the same time, develop a love of whole foods

So as well as ‘hiding’ food, there are a few important things I’d strongly encourage you to consider:

 

  1. Firstly, you might have a number of vegetables ‘hidden’ in that casserole or Bolognese, but I’d strongly encourage you to also present them (or other veggies) on the same plate in their ‘whole’ or a recognisable form.  The purpose of this is if you don’t serve ‘obvious’ veggies, you are ultimately saying that it’s okay to eat a meal without vegetables and this defiantly doesn’t serve them well in creating healthy eating habits for the future.
  2. Hiding food is good for establishing peace of mind that they are deriving more goodness than they realise from say for example, a casserole.  So that even if they don’t touch the whole forms, you can let it go without stress or fuss or feeling like you need to offer them something else to eat.  Replacing a refused meal, or part thereof is a big no-no in my book.  Rather than getting upset or angry if they reject the obvious veggies, why not put them on your own plate and pass a positive comment like “yum, I’m having these if you won’t eat them, I want make sure I really strong.”
  3. So always hedge your bets if dealing with a fussy kid by hiding and serving veggies on the first plate you serve.  If they do eat some or all of the whole form you can congratulate them, reward them if you like and feel satisfied that they have had a really great meal and you are building a fantastic food appreciation and healthy future.
  4. Depending upon your child and their personality, at some stage you should consider sharing what they are actually eating.  If you choose to reveal the hidden ingredients, you do so to demonstrate that the vegetables can taste great in this form, not to prove you have one-up on them.  You don’t want to create any mistrust with food, so choose how you do this wisely.  It needs to be presented in a really positive way.  I always confirm that my kids really enjoyed their dinner before I share hidden ingredients.  Once they say how good it is I might say something like ‘do you know you had three extra serves of vegetables in your dinner tonight – imaging how much stronger/ faster/ smarter (whatever will appeal) that will make you’?  Even though you might be feeling very smug – sharing your ‘nutritional’ win in a ‘ha ha I tricked you’ way, will only build resentment and work against you in the long run.

 

So that’s it on hiding it.  Do so to ‘boost’ the nutritional value of the meal but present ‘obvious’ food also and keep chipping away with all of the other tips I’ve shared for fixing food fussiness (you can catch up on some of my past ideas here).

 

 

RECIPE // COCO-BEET BERRY SMOOTHIE

I’ve been fine tuning this recipe for a beetroot containing smoothie for a while and I’ve finally got it to the really delicious stage, worthy of officially sharing.

 

Health benefits

Beetroot is an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, detoxifying and extremely nutrient rich vegetable. Research suggests it improves stamina and sports performance (this fact alone appeals to my sport loving kids). The coconut water is rehydrating and the nut butter a great source of protein.

 

Ingredients

1 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries (or a mix)

2 tablespoons cacao powder

2 tablespoons of peanut butter (or any other nut butter)

1-2 tablespoons sweetener (rice malt syrup or maple syrup)

½ small raw beetroot, peeled and diced

1 cup of coconut water

 

Method

  • Blend together in a high powered blender until smooth.
  • Enjoy as part of a very healthy breakfast or snack.

 

Variations

Low-fructose

Choose rice malt syrup as our sweetener.

 

For more inspiring healthy advice and delicious recipes, visit www.wellnourished.com.au.

 

Well Nourished

Well Nourished  

Founded by Georgia, a mum, cookbook author, naturopath with 19 years experience and the creator of The Well Nourished Lunch Box Challenge, Well Nourished delivers wholesome, easy-to-follow recipes targeted to busy families. Readers flock to Well Nourished for inspiring health advice and free, nourishing, family friendly recipes. // www.wellnourished.com.au