Children and Vegetables

I believe humans are wired to love a variety of whole foods and vegetables. This includes children, from the moment they are born. This is a belief that is integral to my approach to helping children learn to love a variety of whole plant foods. We just would not have evolved the way we have without a taste for vegetables.IMG_20130321_153639

“Children are naturally picky eaters.”
“Children naturally hate vegetables.”

Sound familiar? I strongly believe that these statements are both myths. They are perpetuated by the fact that we don’t understand the factors that are at play and we have convinced ourselves that they’re true. The truth is that a child who won’t eat vegetables is out of balance. There is actually something wrong. Something is getting in the way of their natural desire and love for a variety of real whole foods, vegetables included. The processed food industry is making trillions of dollars off of our misinformation.IMG_20130321_153612

Let this thought soak in. It may not be that you just need to find the perfect way to serve broccoli or the right way to hide the kale in the quesadilla. It might actually be the fruit yogurt he had for snack or the fish crackers. Yes, even the organic “whole grain” ones are affecting the way life supportive, nourishing foods taste.

Our taste buds are designed to be sensitive. But when we regularly eat processed foods high in refined salt, sugar and fat, our taste buds become desensitized and trained to need stronger tastes to feel satisfied and for the food to taste good. You can read more about food industry tactics here. A naturally sweet carrot just doesn’t taste as sweet when eaten right after a banana muffin. Brown rice becomes unappealing. For me, I don’t even feel like cooking a healthy meal if I have eaten a few cookies.

I mentioned this to a friend yesterday. She remembered her last pregnancy and how she had cravings for frozen unsweetened cherries. She would go through handfuls in a day. One evening she sat down to eat some and they didn’t taste as good or as sweet. Then she made the connection that she had just eaten a bowl of ice cream an hour before and now suddenly the cherries weren’t as satisfying.

This is a simple way to look at it, but I am sure we have all had a similar experience.

It’s also eye-opening to look at the way children eat in other countries. Here is a post with photos of school lunches from 20 different countries including the USA at the bottom. (Now, I know this is a vegan blog, but please stay with me. Most of the photos have some meat.) How many of you have school age children who would sit down to some of these meals without a complaint and actually eat it with gusto? I know some of you do. I also know that most US children eating a Standard American Diet would have a hard time eating some of these meals.

I like to keep my posts manageable and I have so much more to contribute to this topic. For now, I just want to leave you with this:  What foods do you regularly consume that might be getting in the way of you or your child’s natural taste for real whole food and vegetables? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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