It's What's for Dinner!

As many of you know, I am a mom of five daughters.  We went out to a restaurant the other day and I was proud to have my daughters ask the server for broccoli.  You might think that I discipline them if they don’t order healthy food, but the truth is that they really like broccoli; this is a vegetable they regularly have at home.

I have many parents in my office say, “Dr. Selassie, my child will not eat vegetables so I have to order mac and cheese for them, or I have to make a separate meal for them.”  Well, the message I have for you is that that type of mentality is just not going to work out in your interest.  First of all, if you are a busy parent (and what parent isn’t busy?) then making a separate meal or getting take-out for your child is going to become extremely inconvenient, and even expensive.  Second, your child’s health will suffer. 

The healthy meal that you cook for you and your family –  the healthy protein and cooking oil or fat, vegetable and whole grain – is what’s for dinner!  What goes on your plate should also go on your child’s plate.  Please understand that a it takes a child up to twenty-two tries, let me repeat, twenty-two different times that a food is served on a child’s plate before they can really make a good decision about whether they like or truly dislike a food.  I find some parents give up after three tries or less.  Think of all the amazing nutrients we are robbing our children of, if we don’t give them healthy food.   So put it on their plate.  If the child doesn’t eat the vegetable, you don’t have to make them wrong, get upset, or force feed them.  And if they eat a food that you had no hopes of them eating, don’t over- praise them, either; they might form a complex about the food.  The point of putting the food on their plate, even if they don’t eat it, is just to get them used to seeing and knowing the food.  If they don’t eat it, they are not going to starve.  If they get hungry, and then you present them with the food again, believe me, they will eat it.  And if they skip a meal, trust me, they will be alright.  Just know that in the long run, you are setting your child up for success in life because they will be living a healthy life. 

In my private practice, I see many adults who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) starch and sugar and they are not healthy.  It could be that their parents never introduced a variety of foods, and especially vegetables, into their childhood diet.   If you are one of those adults who only like starch and sugar, have you thought about giving yourself an honest twenty-two tries with a new food before deciding whether you like it or not?  If you are unhealthy, and you want health, you’ve got to try something you haven’t tried before. 

So for your health and for the future health of your children, put vegetables on the plate!  It’s what’s for dinner.