Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 08/25/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
THEY were both hungry, cranky and teary-eyed. But they refused to eat the food available -- a healthy, tasty soup and a savoury watermelon salad.
Instead, one kid wanted cheese quesadillas -- hold the vegetables -- and the other wanted a piece of candy from the jar sitting on the kitchen counter.
This scenario -- a very common one in 21st-century Canadian homes -- is what I witnessed during a visit with a couple of parents I know. What they call dinner seemed more like a circus than a civilized meal.
The parents have accepted that their kids refuse to eat vegetables. As an alternative to salad, cheese pizza dipped in bottled ranch dressing is the norm. Chicken "nuggets" are also a favourite, but never whole, unprocessed meat.
Artificially-sweetened powdered drinks are what quenches their thirst instead of water.
Granted, the kids do enjoy some nutritious noshes: steel-cut oatmeal, as well as blended drinks made with plain yogurt and frozen berries.
But the more popular dinner fare in this house does not give the kids the best possible chance for a healthy body or a healthy relationship with food.
So, why are the kids so limited in their food preferences? And why are they so averse to consuming good old H2O?
Kids are picky eaters by nature, say many experts.
I believe there's a way to combat this: Teach by example.
As children, my brother and I ate dinner at the same time every day, seated at the dining table with our parents. My mother cooked us all kinds of foods, with various flavours and spices. As a result, at a very young age, we were familiar with all kinds of foods that kids supposedly aren't supposed to like.
We went to restaurants and ate what the grown-ups ate. (My brother, at age four, would go to a Greek restaurant with the family and ask for an appetizer sampler of olives and spinach pie).
Sure, there were foods we didn't like, and moments of pickiness. But my parents were never picky about their food; they didn't wrinkle their noses at salads, or insist that they couldn't stand mushrooms. And they didn't describe every flavourful food as "too spicy" or "too strong."
And for that, I am grateful. As an adult, I embrace food, always looking to try new flavours and textures. I crave certain greens, because I enjoy their crunch, taste and beauty.
Parents, for the most part, are the ones who determine kids' food preferences.
For example, my father would often eat half of a grapefruit for breakfast. As an eight-year-old, I wanted to do what he did. So, despite its tartness, I copied him and learned to love grapefruit.
With the school bell about to ring next week, a lot of parents have back-to-school lunches on their minds. After all, food is the fuel that keeps the brain and body going during long school days.
In upcoming Healthy Living columns, I'll talk with experts about how to foster healthy eating in kids.
For now, here are some tips to start with:
Have an interesting story idea you'd like Shamona to write about? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 25, 2014 D1
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