The Forthright Chef vs. Stealth: In the War Zone

Dec 7, 2008 by


Is making healthy food look unhealthy our only hope of getting kids to eat it? No way, Sneaky Chef.

A spoonful of sugar makes the beets and squash go down. A chocolate brownie makes the cauliflower go down.

That’s the main idea of not one but two 2007 mom-written books. I hesitate to name the books, because the last time I told another mom about them, she said she was going to get one of them, and that’s the last thing I recommend.

“Every recipe in this book is dedicated to making healthy foods taste decadent,” writes one of the writer-moms. I’m all for that.  But then she goes on:  “To be brutally honest, it is to make healthy food look sort of unhealthy.”

These books are based on the view, to which I don’t subscribe, that there’s healthy food and there’s yummy food, and never the twain shall meet. Pleasure and eating the “right thing” are mutually exclusive. Eating is never going to be anything but a battle—between what you want and what you should.

For these moms, you have only two choices in the “war zone” (the writer’s words) of feeding children. Either you beg, bribe and manipulate your kids to get them to down the foods that are good for them—but that they “naturally” dislike—or you outwit them. 

These moms’ winning strategy? Camouflaging pureed doses of healthy food within those few foods that kids “are known to shovel in without an argument.” Just like with cherry cough syrup, the key is masking that repulsive medicinal or healthy-food flavor. 

“We need to trick our minds into thinking we’re eating sinful foods,” the stealthy warrior explains.

For the cost of a few sugar calories, you can hit a slam dunk: cabbage in the kid’s tummy and no arguing! It’s practically a miracle.

“Why should healthy food feel like a punishment?” one writer asks. “Why, indeed?” I ask. Healthy food tastes great, at least it does at my house. But if mom doesn’t know that, how will the kid discover it?

“Wouldn’t it be great if kids came into the world with the innate desire to eat the right foods?” asks one of the authors. 

Well, fortunately for the survival of the human race, that is exactly how kids do come into the world. God designed them well. If kids don’t like what’s good for them, the problem isn’t nature, it’s nurture.

A child’s appetite functions beautifully in her favor if we don’t warp it by force feeding her unappealing “healthy” foods or giving her enticing non-foods.  Babies love the real food their bodies need, until we teach them through action and attitude that they are not supposed to enjoy what’s good for them. 

What I want to know is: who’s going to be around to sneak the spinach into these kids’ chocolate pudding once they’ve grown up and moved out of the house?

The books are: Jessica (Mrs. Jerry) Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food and the nearly identical The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lupine.

This post was featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on Nov. 20, 2009

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon November 26, 2008 All Rights Reserved