Can Healthy Meals Be Kid Friendly Too?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Posted by Aparna Balasubramanian

I am Aparna, I write a vegetarian blog at My Diverse Kitchen and am excited to join the team at The Daily Tiffin. When Meeta invited me here, she suggested I could write posts related to "healthy kid-friendly meals".
While I am not an expert in this area, I have a 13 year old daughter who has a very strong opinion on most things, including food. Trying to ensure that she eats food which I deem healthy and she likes is not a very easy thing to do.

I am not an authority on child nutrition even though I did study biochemistry, nutrition and dietetics in university a long time ago. I have, over time, discovered (like many others) that no degree in anything remotely connected with health, diet and nutrition can prepare you for the task of getting your child or children to eat what you think is best for them. It is always about what they want to eat, which mostly is what you would prefer they didn't!

Funnily enough, I never had much problem with getting my daughter to eat when she was younger. She wasn't a very fussy eater though she could take hours to finish a meal. At that point she used to find the rest of the world more interesting than food, and often had to be reminded that she needed to finish what was on her plate!

At the age of 8 or so, whenever we went grocery shopping, Akshaya would check all the product labels to ensure that they were vegetarian, contained no trans-fat, preservatives or colour! Whenever we ate out, she would refuse aerated drinks insisting that she only drank water!!
In fact, I started baking a lot more at home because she didn't like the "funny" taste of store bought cookies/ biscuits and cakes.

Sure, she had her own likes and dislikes where food was concerned and there would be occasions when we would argue over her not eating something. A large part of the time reasoning things with her or giving in to her demands occasionally kept the balance going.

Then around the time she turned 10 something happened. Apparently, teenage sets in these days a lot earlier than it did in our times! And our daughter's food tastes and preferences underwent a dramatic change! She discovered junk food with a vengeance!
Pepsi or Sprite was so much "cooler" than water, traditional food just didn't have the "style" that a McPuff, a McVeggie or a McAloo Tikki from McDonalds did and how could a dosa (Indian savoury crepes) ever stand up to "ze pizza"?

One of my "healthy" vegetable burgers!

That's when the question "Can Kid Friendly Meals Be Healthy?" really became relevant for me. I am happy to have discovered that that the answer is definitely a "Yes!" Well, most of the time anyway.

We found ways to ensure that most of what our daughter eats is on the healthier side. This is not to say that she and I do not argue over what she eats. In fact, one of her pet peeves is her inability to understand why I have to cook and insist on her eating "healthy and boring" food! Actually, she does understand this but I think that she doesn't want to accept it, most of the time.

We have now arrived at a sort of compromise where she now accepts my need to ensure she eats healthy food while we accept her need to occasionally fulfill her "unhealthy" food cravings.

This post was written by Aparna

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It's hard when it comes to our kids. We want them to eat healthy food and all. I decided to let poppet have a bit of taste of everything. I figured that way she won't go after the 'junk food' with a vengeance when she grows older. LOL! As for soda, I have seen parents giving their 1 yr old diluted coke! I fear the day she discovered soda. For now she doesn't like carbonated drinks - we tried it out on her with carbonated mineral water. LOL! I do however give her on occasions very watered down syrup drink.

January 26, 2010 at 10:37:00 AM GMT+1  

Love your post Aparna, I'd love one of these burgers anytime.... and my kids would too (I think...cause I'm not really always sure, changing their mind whimsically)

Lien said...
January 26, 2010 at 11:56:00 AM GMT+1  

I like your post! This is something very helpful to parents. It is hard to force kids to eat healthy because sometimes the taste sucks.

baby crib said...
January 27, 2010 at 6:04:00 AM GMT+1  

I have battled your battle for longer than I can remember Aparna. My daughter wants junk food with a vengeance too now...and I can honestly say it's a tough fight!!
great food for thought!!

Deeba PAB said...
January 28, 2010 at 4:18:00 PM GMT+1  

Hmmm... I am going what all you guys and prepare myself when my time is due

Asha @ FSK said...
January 29, 2010 at 11:25:00 PM GMT+1  

Eeks! such grammer!!
I meant I am gonna read everything you all write on the topic to prepare myself for the inevitable tussle in the future! :))

Asha @ FSK said...
January 30, 2010 at 12:10:00 AM GMT+1  

This post is very entertaining. I will definitely share this one to my friends.

January 30, 2010 at 5:43:00 PM GMT+1  

Ha ha! Excellent article! I have one extremely persnickety kid who eats maybe 5 things, none of them really healthy. I have to really plan out what I will be cooking if I want him to eat any of it. I know that if I understand his flavor preferences (tomato sauce, melted cheese, breading) I can mix and match and sneak in vegetables (he can't know they're there) and create healthy foods that he will indeed eat. Luckily my kids never were big on fast food or candy and have always preferred home-baked goodies to store bought. And they'll always choose a slice of pizza over something greasy.

Jamie said...
February 1, 2010 at 11:07:00 AM GMT+1  

Pamela That approach worked for me. My daughter used to hate carbonated water/ drinks too. Then she struck 10! LOL

Lien That's their prerogative. They keep changing their minds and tastes!

baby crib I guess its for us to try and make healthy tasty too. Not always an easy job.

Deeba We're tougher, right? (I think). :)

Asha Read away, but you can never be prepared. You always learn as you go. :)

Jamie That's really how to work it. One gets luckier if they tend to prefer healthier food too.

February 24, 2010 at 8:17:00 AM GMT+1  

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