Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What and How to Feed Kids

Last night I gave a cooking lesson focusing on shellfish. We made four dishes: mussels in a pineapple juice-coconut milk broth, curried shrimp, sautéed scallops and squid in a very garlicky tomato sauce.

The two couples learned some new techniques and tricks, and there were no leftovers. The highlight of the evening, though, may have been that the two-year-old son of one of the couples feasted on everything, with no prodding from his parents.

For me, seeing this was refreshing, especially since I observe and work with so many kids (all ages) whose diets consist mostly of packaged and processed foods full of refined sugars, salt, synthetic additives and artificial colorants.

I asked the parents what they did to foster their son’s eating habits. Their philosophy—which also allowed their two older children to become great eaters—is straightforward and based on common sense:
  • At home, the kids eat whatever their omnivorous parents eat. No concessions are made for the younger palates.
  • At restaurants, the kids eat from the regular menu, often sharing dishes with their parents. Kids’ menus are not visited.
The second set of parents relayed a funny story. The dad had cooked scallops for himself and his wife, and macaroni and cheese for their kids. However, the children staged a coup d’état and commandeered the scallops, leaving their parents with the macaroni.

The parents agreed that the incessant marketing devoted to junk food could present a problem, but their kids’ palates were developed enough to differentiate between these edible foodlike substances and real food.

Granted, all kids aren’t going to be adventurous eaters, but making small changes to their diets—substituting water for fruit juices, sodas and sports drinks—can make a huge impact on their palates, health and behavior.


Matt said...

Wow, it's so simple! But what do you do when you have the 4 year old with the rigid palate? Or the 18 month old who is starting off well but sees the concessions his brother gets....

Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) said...

Love this story!