Having Trouble Getting Kids to Eat? Feed Them, but Cook For Yourself

Dec 27, 2008 by

Mom cook “Good—leaves more for the rest of us,” my mom used to say to any kid who didn’t want to eat something.  At our house, eating was the club we wanted to join.

A powerful tactic for parents who want their children to voluntarily eat the most nourishing foods is to enthusiastically prepare and enjoy eating those foods themselves. 

A begrudging, unenthusiastic cook is missing out. Why not conquer your boredom and turn a chore into a game? It pays off in so many ways.

“Feed them, yes; but do not cook for them. Cook for yourself,” advises Robert Farrar Capon in The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection.

“What they need most of all in this vale of sorrows is the sight of men who relish reality,” Capon writes. “You do them no lasting favor by catering to their undeveloped tastes. We have not acquired our amplitude for nothing. No matter what they think, we know.  We are the ones who have tasted and seen how gracious it all is. What a shame if we were to hide that light under a bushel.”

Like with the emergency air masks on the airplane, you have to take care of yourself first in order to be able to take care of your child. The more passion you genuinely feel for what you cook, the better the chance they will catch your enthusiasm.  Modeling enjoyment of good things will likely foster your child’s enjoyment of the same.

I occasionally ask my husband or kids if there’s something they’d like to eat, and sometimes I might make what they ask for if I also happen to be in the mood for it, but generally I shamelessly follow my own whims and cravings.  Making what I feel like cooking or eating is the best cure I know to stave off cooking boredom and reluctance. Whether I hear the call of a certain flavor, of something new or of an old favorite, I follow Capon’s advice: “Please yourself, first, last and always.”

© Sacred Appetite/ Anna Migeon / 27 December 2008 / All rights reserved