I’m a mum who wants my children to benefit from a healthy diet to enable them to be healthy and strong. So it’s always a stinger when my eldest refuses point blank to eat anything that resemble a vegetable. He just doesn’t ‘do’ them. ‘Yuk’ is his standard response when presented with anything with even a hint of green, and orange, oh and red.
Knowing what I now know about nutrition now, it’s hard for me to stand by and let him win this one, so I’ve begun to work out ways on how I can out-smart him into eating things which are good for him. It’s a tough one. He’s sussed out my hidden vegetable tomato sauces for pasta (it was great while it lasted!) – and won’t eat anything red on anything. I try and sneak in spinach to pesto – which sometimes works unless he pulls the ‘mummy I wanted plain pasta’ line, and digs his heels in. Faced with the option of giving him said plain pasta, or being woken up through the night by a hungry child, I must admit I usually submit. But adding and whizzing up veg into ‘pestos’ and ‘plain’ sauces can be a very effective way of upping veg intake.
Carbs are no problem for him, at all – he could eat them til the cows come home. So as a rule, he doesn’t get the opportunity to eat white bread and instead gets wholemeal, rye, and sourdough – which, thankfully he loves. His pasta is for the most part wholemeal now, which he also doesn’t seem to object to.
He LOVES jam, honey, chocolate, crisps, and other heinous, sugar and salt-laden snacks. He doesn’t have much of an opportunity to eat them on my watch! I’m about to buy a mandolin to enable me to slice potatoes and sweet potatoes, and courgettes very thinly to turn into healthier versions of crisps. In the meantime, I have realised that he will eat roasted potato peelings when I tell him he has ‘crisps’ for dinner. Win!
I also have my sights set on a dehydrator which allows you to make all kinds of delicious crispy-type snacks which are bursting with health. He will not beat me, oh no!
Looking at the good stuff he likes to eat, he will eat chicken, apple, pear, cucumber, and healthy peanut butter (£5 for a kg from Holland and Barrett / Poppy’s Pantry if you’re local to Woodbridge, and no added nasties at all). So I capitalise on this, and this is what he tends to get for dinner, breakfast, lunch. I think sometimes you just have to accept they’ll be fussy.
My favourite way of getting goodness into him is through the milkshake or smoothie. I laughed (or was it a victory cackle) inside this morning as I gave him his requested raspberry milkshake (using full fat milk for calcium, frozen berries – full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants, cheaper than fresh, and they chill the drink) knowing that I’ve also put in half a banana, 1/3 avocado (packed with protein), 1/2 pear and a kiwi fruit (yet more vitamin C). I even manage to get spinach into them sometimes which he doesn’t notice, either. Ha!
Yesterday, I invented some ultra-healthy oaty cookies with no sugar in at all, containing oats, oatmeal, and even flaxseeds. A momentary look of uncertainty crossed his face as he bit into one, then he polished off three. They get my thumbs up for a health-laden sweet treat that I also enjoy.
Knowing that my son’s getting adequate nutrition is so important to me, and I shall continue to try and outwit him. With young children, you have to be prepared to jump on any hint of healthy that they are up for, and keep trying new things without forcing it upon them. They’ll come round when they’re good and ready, and I think life’s too short to battle. Fussiness, as with many things relating to children, is for the most part only a phase, and as smart, clever parents, let’s go forth and outwit our little resistors, making it the playful game that bringing up children should be.
‘Til next time.