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by Jessica Seinfeld
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Changing Habits Through Loving Deception
Wouldn't it be great if kids came into the world with the innate desire to eat the right foods?
In reality, however, too many food choices—many of them unhealthy—make it impossible for kids to distinguish the good from the bad. It's up to us as parents to make choices for them, at least until they are able to figure things out for themselves.
And it's not realistic to simply disregard their food aversions, either. Forcing your kids to eat foods they hate only reinforces their distaste.
That's where a little loving deception comes in handy. Deceptively Delicious enables parents to give kids what they want and what they need at the same time. It acknowledges your kids' genuine dislikes without being confined by them. It empowers you to exert some legitimate control over what your children eat, without inviting the usual fights. And most important, it's a way to give your kids a head start toward eating what's good for them so that they'll grow up and eat better food throughout their lives.
Just as the most powerful lessons are the ones that aren't taught, the best parenting solutions are the ones that build good habits—invisibly. I want my kids to associate food and mealtimes with happiness and conversation, not power struggles and strife. With a little sleight of hand, you can make the issue of what your children will and will not eat disappear from the table.
Meet the Kitchen Cabinet
Hi, I'm Jessica, and this is my Kitchen Cabinet, my all-important staff of advisors. My three children are my official recipe tasters. They are my toughest critics. If they approve, I am confident that your tasters will too. I've also tried these recipes out on their little friends and cousins who come by the house, some of whom are difficult eaters as well.
Sascha, our oldest, is six years old, and she is my toughest taster. In fact, she is practically impossible to please. From birth, it seems, she has been decisively clear about what she will and won't eat. She takes a hesitant and apprehensive approach to food and rarely will try anything new. Sweets are the exception, however, and she will try anything that even remotely looks like dessert.
Julian, our middle child, is four years old. He's a good eater if his older sister isn't around to influence him. On his own, he's happy to eat what is presented to him, but when he's with Sascha, he falls prey to whatever she dictates. So all of a sudden, even when I've cooked food I know he likes, he's pushing his plate away and saying, "I don't like it." And now I've got not one, but two kids who aren't eating, and with whom I would have spent the rest of the meal negotiating.
Shepherd, our "baby," is two years old, and he is a remarkable eater. He will eat anything. Anything. He will eat himself sick. The first word he spoke was "that," which was baby talk for "I want that food, there, on your plate."
My husband, Jerry, is a great eater. He's quite happy to eat vegetables and any healthy food I make, for that matter. In fact, he'll pretty much go along with whatever's happening, which is one of the many things that make him such a great husband. And he's a marvelous taster because, unlike the kids, he'll say things other than, "Ew, gross, this is disgusting."
Excerpted from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. Copyright © 2007 by Jessica Seinfeld. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.