Any parent will be familiar with the following conversation, usually held in hushed voices with a fellow parent:
"I love him, I do. It's just... he will not eat what's good for him! I don't know what's wrong!"
"Oh, I know. Mine are all like that. I've tried everything, but they're so stubborn..."
Before you have children you look at other people's, see what they are eating and are mystified. "That can't be good for them!", you mutter to yourself as you see the child eating chips, or peanut butter and jelly. So why are they being given it?
As any harassed parent will tell you, it comes down to one simple fact. While what your kids eat is important, it's not as important as their need to eat something. You might want everything to be nutrient-rich and healthy. But sometimes your kids will disagree.
Before you get too frustrated with them, take yourself back to when you were their age. Did you eat broccoli, carrots or bean sprouts without protest? Really? It's a fact; kids tend to be picky eaters.
So what's the deal? Do you abandon the well-meaning plans to feed them healthy food? Accept that it's a life of burgers and nuggets or nothing? No - keep the healthy eating flag flying. You may just need to get creative.
Hide The Veg, Trick Your Child
Many parents will be horrified by the idea of conning their kids into eating right. "What kind of a lesson does it give if I'm using subterfuge to keep my son healthy?" you may ask. Well, that's just it - no lesson at all, if you do it right. They won't know.
Using the right knives, from sources like Cut it Fine or others, chop the veg up real small. Use it in their favorite sauces, and invent a name for it. After they've been eating it for long enough, you may admit to them that the meal has a "secret ingredient." Without realizing it, they've found they quite like courgette, onion or similar foods.
Presentation Is The Key
One of the reasons the above trick often works is because kids are very visual. If they recognize a food as something they like, they trust it and go with it. If they feel the opposite way, they will rebel. This is why it can be a good idea to play with how you present veggies, and which veggies you pick.
Peppers look exciting and colorful - and if you stuff them with spaghetti sauce and some meatballs, they can be delicious too. Once your kid likes one healthy meal, they'll be more open to trying others.
Have Fun With Mealtimes
As you gain your kids' trust as someone who knows their way around the kitchen, you can have more themed days. Get them to be excited about trying new things by having a day set aside where you'll make something different. Another night can be "breakfast for dinner" night. As they get used to this kind of routine, you'll find it easier to establish the right way of eating.
At the bottom of all this, it is important to remember that truth. The fact that your kid eats is more important than what they eat - but if you can make them see the good in healthy food earlier, it's a gift for life.