Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lies and Food

Recently, Amber Strocel wrote a post admitting that she lies to her children. It got me thinking a lot about instances in which I feel it would be ok to lie to my kid. Then, not long after that, I made zucchini brownies and found myself in a situation where a ten-year-old girl was eating one of them without knowing what was in it. After she had eaten about half of a brownie, I decided to tell her (mostly out of pride that I had made such a delicious treat with a green vegetable hidden in it).

"You know, there's zucchini in these brownies!" I said proudly.

She looked at me, surprised, then focused in closely to the remainder of her brownie, searching for any evidence of the presence of vegetables. Eventually, she shrugged her shoulders and happily finished the rest of the chocolate treat.

Her mom then said to me, "I'm going to give you a hint: don't tell them when there are vegetables in their food."

So...I think I disagree with her, at least in this instance. I mean, this kid was ten years old, and was obviously well-nourished. I can understand if you've got a picky two-year old, that you might want to sneak veggies into your kid's food to make sure they're taking in enough nutrients. I believe in offering the foods kids should eat over and over, as I've read that it takes more than 10 times of offering a vegetable before a child will eat it. I read an interesting study where researchers found that increasing the portion of vegetables given (carrots, in this instance) caused the children to consume 47% more than with the smaller portion size. I've also read that scientists believe that children have an innate aversion to bitter tastes (like that of many vegetables) because in the wild, poisonous plants are often bitter. Aversion to bitterness is actually a survival instinct.

I can certainly understand omitting certain facts about food in some circumstances, but if asked directly, I would never outright lie about it. I was a pretty picky eater as a child, and I always wanted to know what was in things. I don't know if that's because someone lied to me at some point and I had a bad experience or if I just wanted to be sure. I remember a time at a church dinner once when I ate a big bite of pickled beets thinking they were slices of canned cranberry sauce, and that was a very bad surprise.

I do know, however, that lots of people these days have food allergies and sensitivities—I even know someone who is allergic to nearly all fruits and vegetables. Disclosing any unexpected ingredients (like zucchini in brownies) to at least the parent of a child when sharing food with them is always a good idea.

I have the perspective of being someone who used to be a fairly picky eater especially when it came to vegetables, and now I'm someone who eats all kinds of vegetables. I'm even growing beets in my front yard right now—with no intentions of pickling them!

I'm curious—what would you do in the situation with the brownies? Would you lie to your kid (or someone else's) about that was in the brownies if explicitly asked? Would you simply omit the information (what you don't know can't hurt you)? What would you want to happen if you were the person eating the mystery brownies? Do you have any related stories to share? I can't wait to hear your perspective on this one!

Photo credit computix on Flickr.


  1. I would love to try brownies with zucchini in them, but my question is, how much zucchini can you sneak into each brownie? Does it improve the brownies or is it just unnoticeable? I would rather my kids see what they are eating because when they get old enough to cook I want them to know what things are good to include, but I definitely wouldn't be past sneaking veggies into certain things. My three-year-old is pretty picky, and I think it's partly because she stayed with my mom and dad on days when I worked for the first couple years of her life. They'd either ask her what she wanted for lunch, or if she didn't like what they'd fixed, they'd make her mac n cheese or a PB&J sandwich. (I'm not complaining. They were so kind to keep her for me and I am not health nut either.) I think that's fine in severe cases, like if a child hates one or two vegetables, but if there are basically just three foods a child will eat, that bugs me. We've gotten around this by making thin-crust pizza with feta cheese, lots of spinach, mushrooms, black olives, etc. Some kids will eat just about anything as long as it's on a pizza!

  2. From the title of your blog, I thought you might be going in another direction. I read this about infant formula on Coconut Mama's blog. I guess it's not a lie, either, since the ingredients are right there. But to call infant formula "good" or "healthy" -- now, that might very well be a lie.


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