Thursday Tips: Is Sneaking In Veggies A Good Idea?

cheezy dipVeggies are an important part of a nutritious diet, but what if your child won’t eat them? Should you try to sneak them into other foods, so they get the nutrition? Or is sneaking a bad idea? The answer, like with most things, is that it depends what you want to get out of it.          

If you want a way to get a little extra nutrition into your kids and they’re not questioning what’s in something (ie: you don’t have to lie), then there’s really no harm in it. Veggies are great for you. We want kids to eat more veggies, so go ahead, make muffins, pancakes or smoothies packed with nutrients!

But that’s really all you get out of it. It’s a quick fix, a one-time deal, because there’s no learning involved in ‘sneaking’ in veggies. Your child doesn’t know the veggies are in their food, so they’re not learning they like the vegetable. They’re not exploring that taste in their mouths and visually finding out how to recognize that food in the future.

The other pitfall with ‘sneaking’ in veggies is that there’s sneaking involved. As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to lie to children. They are way more intuitive than we give them credit for and usually when we lie, even if they don’t know exactly what the lie is about, they know something’s up and they get wary. On that note, it’s definitely not a good idea to lie to kids about food, especially if you have a picky eater or a child needing feeding therapy. These children are learning to trust new foods and feel safe with them. If we lie to them, it adds to distrust around the whole issue of food.

There are, however, a lot of great recipes out there that taste delicious and are chock full of healthy veggies. I love Larice’s nut and veggie-based cheezy sauces from her blog Feeding Your Beauty. I tried the Mexican cheese dip (above) and it was delicious (though it might be better for kids who like stronger, alerting tastes) and her mac and cheese sauce looks much milder and pretty awesome, too! Then there are the myriad of smoothie, muffin, and pancake recipes out there that pack a delicious, nutritious punch!

I like taking the best of both worlds. You can make any of these recipes into a food play cooking activity. Then your child can learn about the foods while you cook. And when they’re ready, you can have a snack time or some fun food play with the finished product, if your child isn’t ready to take a bite yet (and maybe they’ll feel comfortable enough to taste while exploring). And, if you make a dip like the one above, check out some of the fun ways we explored playing with dips during our week of purees last winter!

So, is it a good idea to sneak in veggies? Like with everything, it’s always up to you and what you think is right for your child and your individual situation. But it’s best to make that decision knowing what you’re going to get out of it: a one-time veggie fix or a learning experience that will keep them coming back for more.

Enjoy and happy food play!

 

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9 thoughts on “Thursday Tips: Is Sneaking In Veggies A Good Idea?

      1. It’s good to point out sneaking veggies (or anything) is just a one time fix. It doesn’t help your child learn to love veggies. At least it gets them a little nutrition. I like that you point out it’s ok to sneak veggies as long as you know what you are getting out of it. Sneaking can work, but you also have to incorporate other ways to introduce veggies. Sneaking is different than lying, to me. You can sneak, but after they eat something, I’d try and present the information about how awesome it is they just ate veggies and liked it. At least you are being truthful after the fact. haha. kids and eating is no easy subject!

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      2. You’re so right! It’s not an easy subject and it’s different for every person and every situation! Talking about the food afterwards is a great way to learn about it! I would just be careful about making kids feel like they’ve been ‘tricked.’ That’s kind of a yucky feeling and could overpower all the positive praise you’re giving…That said, positive language around food is always helpful!! 🙂 Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation!

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  1. Thanks so much for featuring my dip, so glad you tried it! I agree that “sneaking” veggies isn’t teaching kids about loving vegetables, and at our house we like to put plenty of vegetables on my daughters plate that are out in the open! For me, making things out of veggies is just a way of life, and not so much about slipping them into things unnoticed. We eat plant-based, so things like “Alfredo” sauce and “cheese” dip are made with veggies, nuts, and seeds instead of heavy dairy cream and the like. I’m hoping that raising her this way, she’ll see vegetables and plant foods as our main source of nourishment and not just a side dish to be pushed around on her plate lol. Great information here as always! And a note about the dip.. I usually leave out the stronger spices for my daughter, it’s very customizable! And she loooves the Mac and cheese sauce made with sweet potatoes and carrots 🙂

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  2. I was thinking of this post last night. We made shrimp and grits. My son has never eaten shrimp, but he loves sausage. I wanted to tell him it was sausage in the grits. “sausage of the sea”. that’s not a lie right? haha. I ended up not doing that. But it made me laugh to think of this post and how it might not be a good idea to call shrimp sausage. Instead, he really did eat sausage.

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    1. Haha! I love it! No, it’s not a lie at all because you can use the word ‘sausage’ as a descriptor! Shrimp does look like a ‘sausage of the sea’ and associating a new food with attributes of a food your son already likes is a great way to use positive language associations!! I love this so much–thanks for sharing! 🙂

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