Peace (and Peas) at the Table
by Missy Chase Lapine
I may be called “The Sneaky Chef”, but that wasn’t always the case.
I used to be called “nagging, bribing, threatening chef.” I set out healthy foods for my kids to eat each night and I berated them to try them. The result was disastrous. My picky little eaters wouldn’t touch a thing and I grew more and more frustrated.
Then I got smarter! As many of us moms have experienced first-hand with kids at the dinner table, threatening your children to eat their veggies doesn’t work any more than getting them to stop talking while you’re on the telephone. In fact, it’s downright counterproductive. You know the reaction I’m talking about. So, I decided to get smart about the whole healthy eating issue and come at it from a different perspective.
First, I stopped berating them. Second, I stopped taking it personally. I didn’t give up or give in. I simply stopped fighting over the issue, and got “sneaky,” hiding the healthy foods I wanted them to eat inside a seemingly normal helping of their favorite foods. They’d never guess it, but their favorite spaghetti sauce is now undetectably boosted with hidden cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potatoes and carrots (it’s critical to steam tender, and then puree smooth before mixing into other foods). Of course, all this sneakiness is not a substitute for teaching good nutrition, but now I’m no longer teaching under fire.
Mealtimes should be a time for bonding and creating family traditions. This is a time we can really get to know our kids, and create good feelings and memories. I replaced the “eat your peas!” banter with questions like “what was the favorite part of your day?” Here are three things that have worked for me: