Is Hiding Vegetables in Children’s Food A Good or Bad Idea?
If you’ve been following me for a while know you will know that I have shared lots of Hidden Veggie Recipes here over the past few years. Hiding vegetables in other food or with other ingredients can be a great way of getting kids to eat their five a day but I appreciate that there are opposing views on this and I thought it might be helpful to chat it through.
The Pro’s of Hiding Veggies
1. The most obvious benefit of hiding vegetables is that you can get a greater variety of veg and therefore a greater variety of nutrients into your child. Most children will typically have a few “safe” vegetables that they will eat but the easiest way of getting lots of other veg into them is to hide it. No one vegetable is nutritionally perfect and we need a balance of lots of different veg in order to take advantage of all their wonderful nutritional properties.
2. Hiding Veggies also means less stress for both parents and children. If mealtimes are a battle in your house then sneaking veggies into their food helps to avoid arguments and anxiety.
3. Veggies are a great way to bulk out meals. Adding grated carrot, courgette etc to spag bol increases the nutritional content whilst also cutting down on the amount of meat you need to use.
The Con’s of Hiding Veggies
1. The biggest downside of hiding vegetables is that it’s not necessarily teaching children about the importance of eating a balanced diet and making healthy choices. Many people believe that by hiding vegetables from children they will never learn their importance and different ways we can enjoy them.
2. Hiding veg may also demonise them. It signals to kids that they are something never to be enjoyed on their own and should only be eaten when smuggled into something else.
3. Kids taste buds develop and change quite rapidly when they are young. What they don’t like this week may completely change by next week. By continuing to hide veggies in their food they may actually be missing out on some veg that they would genuinely love to eat.
A Veggie Compromise
Personally I sit on the fence when it comes to the hidden veggie argument. I can see the pro’s and con’s of both sides and try to incorporate a little bit of both into my kids’ diet.
I continue to serve hidden veggie foods to my children. I make lots of pasta sauces with sneaky veg but also try to serve some veggies alongside it so that they always have some form of vegetable in it’s whole form at mealtimes.
I also try to make veggies the norm at snack time by serving raw veg like carrots, cucumber, peppers and sugar snap peas alongside sweet treats.
Ultimately you know your child the best so do what’s best for you and your family. I’ve yet to meet an adult that’s asked me to blend up his veggies for him!!