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Do you have to sneak vegetables into your kids?

I see more and more of this in TV and magazine ads - mom is cleverly hiding vegetables in the dinner.
What I don't get is, why do people think kids should hate all vegetables? I would love for someone to give me a viewpoint on this that I can understand. My two sons, who are in college and are both creative and adventurous cooks, always had certain likes and dislikes (one loves Brussels sprouts, the other hates them, one loves corn, the other is so-so about corn...etc), but we all have those opinions about lots of foods. So why is the TV mom so clever for sneaking spinach into the lasagna?

I grew up in the 60's, and had more than my share of canned peas, but it never occurred to me that one entire food group should be shunned.
Once I had my own family, I cooked every day, and all different kinds of veggies were part of the meals, just as we had an assortment of meats, pasta, rice, spices.. I didn't have to try and get them to 'eat their veggies', and I didn't think they were unusual in their eating habits.

Help me understand this!

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  1. I have two sons too: Why can't they ever like the same things?!

    I'm not a fan of "sneaking" veggies either. I think some parents do it because it's easier than arguing with kids who balk at veggies, they don't like veggies themselves and so don't present them as something yummy, and/or they want to be sure their kids are getting adequate nutrition.

    A scientist pal tells me that one benefit is that kids' bodies are being exposed to these hidden veggies and so they're more likely to tolerate/enjoy them when they're older. She doesn't think it's all bad.

    I know some people hate the idea of deceiving kids, but I understand why parents might go that route. After four nights in a row of my kids howling about dinner, I'm ready to throw in the towel.

    I did not grow up a veggie fan, and they're still too often an afterthought for me. My young kids like only a few veggies, so I try to make them a routine part of the meal, and fun. We do a lot of taste-testing, to find out if we like some preparations better than others (cooked vs. raw onions, different seasonings, etc.). My boys are fussier than I'd like, but they're usually open to trying foods and experimenting with different approaches to veggies. And they're more likely to eat what they can help with: picking veggies from the garden, snipping herbs for dressing, cutting up lettuce with kid-safe scissors, choosing what goes into their salads. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    We sometimes make the sneaky-veggie dishes, but with full disclosure. My 6-year-old hates spinach, but loves to make spinach-puree brownies -- he thinks it's cool that they are made with spinach and don't taste at all of spinach. I'm hoping they develop an appreciation for the magic that can happen in the kitchen, which I think is a decent foundation.

    Sorry if this veered into sanctimommy territory!

    3 Replies
    1. re: MamaCooks

      I have never understood any of this. Growing up in my house, we had out dinner, sometimes with a cooked veggie and a huge bowl of salad afterward. And by salad, I don't mean lettuce and tomatoes only. We had tons of things in it. I would usually pass on the cooked veggies, because I had texture issues (I still dislike, but can tolerate cooke carrots) but on the nights we were salad free (which was almost never) I was made to eat them.

      I remember not liking spinach or mushrooms, but never really giving it a try. Then my cousin made a spinach and mushroom casserole and put bacon in it. I've eaten spinach and mushrooms ever since. If kids are shown enough foods, you'll find something they like that is still good for them

      1. re: jhopp217

        Oh! I forgot. I always loved spinach dip and creamed spinach ever since I first tried them. My mom didn't really do spinach as a side. Most of our sides were Jolly Green Giant or a salad. I also always loved sauteed mushrooms. Still do but prefer cooked over raw.

      2. re: MamaCooks

        Love the name "sanctimommy"! That is too good!

        After reading Mama and jhopp's replies, I am getting the idea that this may be all due to the boring vegetable dishes some of us had as kids, so we "don't grow up a veggie fan". I do recall that my mom made lots of different kinds of vegetables, but they were pretty much steamed and salted/buttered, not often made with sauces, spices, mixtures of different kinds of vegetables like I do myself.
        They are always an integral part of the meals I prepare - I could probably lose the meat entree and not care a whit, but I like color and texture in my meals. In fact, I had read years ago that meals that are mostly 'brown and white' are not the healthiest for you. So I cook for color, really, and that gets me the balance that I like.
        I am one of those totally non-picky eaters. Put anything in front of me and I will try it - and usually like it. (Except some of the things Bourdain or Zimmerman eat!) So my perspective is skewed, compared to more selective eaters.
        Jhopp, I bet most kids would be more adventurous if we put bacon in everything! That's too funny. And a useful tip for parents who struggle with the veggie issue.

      3. I agree with you. I have 3 kids, and was pretty relaxed in my approach. We usually tried to get them to take a "no thank you" bite if it was something they hadn't tried, but I always felt that it was almost insulting to assume they wouldn't eat them and "hide" them cleverly. I think the TV wife is kinda capitalizing on something almost mythical about kids and food hysteria. Everyone has their own set of tastebuds; what's repugnant to one is good stuff to another. And all my kids grew up to be very relaxed and creative eaters, but I bet TV wife's kids won't, though I hope otherwise. My youngest son lived very well and thrived for a year on a diet of boiled eggs, cheerios, tofu dogs, cottage cheese, milk and orange juice for a solid year. I will say I hauled him off to the pediatrician after a month or so, and what she asked me was, "is he gaining? is he smart? does he have energy? To which all the questions the answer was yes. She told me to give him a vitamin daily and keep him on that regime until he got naturally curious, which he did do.

        1. In general, I don't, but both of my boys are adventuresome eaters, and I used to carry broccoli with me to the playground. (I'd let them run around and get hungry, then on the walk back home if they wanted a snack I'd say well, all I have is this broccoli, you can eat it now or wait until we get home to have something else).

          I do think I'm lucky that my kdis will eat most everything. I used to think that food preferences/pickiness had a lot to do with what the moms ate while they were pregnant & what the family meals were like in general. But, I know lots of moms who are fabulous cooks but their kids are incredibly picky. (I'd also thought that my kids' adventuresome palates came from their birthmoms and the kids' exposure to Korean foods while living with their foster families. But, I know plenty of kids in the same situation who will only eat mac & cheese, lol).

          I also think that kids should know what vegetables taste like. But I will put non-preferred veggies into a dish that i know the kids will eat. For example, neither boy will touch zucchini on its own, but they will eat Korean pancakes and porridge that have zucchini in it (and when they ask, I tell them truthfully what veggies I put in there).

          1 Reply
          1. re: gimlis1mum

            Totally. And as a person with texture issues (which I've mostly gotten over as an adult -- they were BAAAAAD as a kid) I thank you for your graciousness to your boys! :)

          2. If I had ever discovered that my mother was trying to trick me into eating something, I never would have trusted her food again. She cooked what she cooked (a surprising range of foods for the 50's/60's) and we were expected to eat it. Somethings did not become favorites (boiled okra), but we always tried whatever was on our plates. I've not had a great deal of success in getting my (now-grown) kids to eat crucifers, but they gave them a try. Their father is not a fan, either, but I'm not about to sneak cauliflower into the mac and cheese.

            5 Replies
            1. re: pikawicca

              "I'm not about to sneak cauliflower into the mac and cheese." Besides the fact that, with the squash puree in the brownies (!!) or the cauliflower puree in the mac and cheese or whatever, they're getting, what, a tablespoon or two of the stuff, max? That seems like an awful lot of work for a negligible amount of veggies.

              Now, I have made a sort of mac and cheese/cauliflower gratin combo, and it was wicked good. But there was no "hiding" the cauliflower, for sure.

              1. re: LauraGrace

                "Besides the fact that, with the squash puree in the brownies (!!) or the cauliflower puree in the mac and cheese or whatever, they're getting, what, a tablespoon or two of the stuff, max? That seems like an awful lot of work for a negligible amount of veggies."

                My feelings exactly.

                "Getting" kids to eat can be a control issue for the parents/caregiver. Some feel the need to assert their authority over smaller people. Some are legitimately ignorant about child development and how kids go through phases of being experiment vs. running back to their comfort foods. Kids also learn from example so if the parents are putting variety on th table, kids will learn to try different things.

                I do realize there are extreme cases due to sensory issues so in those cases I could see a little trickery might be the best option but for the most part, I think the "sneaking" recipes are a trend thought up to sell books.

                1. re: cleobeach

                  This is a control issue for kids too. They don't have much power but they can make themselves the center of attention by refusing their carrots or whatever. Mommy and Daddy stop talking to one another or the other kids. They are rewarded for a very small and virtually effortless act of will.
                  This is why we tried hard not to make an issue of the food-funnies.
                  Just put the food out there and, if everyone else is eating it, sooner or later, they will too. Your kid is not going to starve to death.
                  This behavior starts at an earlier age than you might think and endure well into adulthood if it is reinforced,
                  Even negative attention is still attention. Don't make a deal out of your child's power play. Even if he/she is pretty much grown up.
                  Once you recognize this, it gets easier.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    Yep, you are exactly right.

                    One rule in our house is no one is allowed to make a fuss/pull a face when a disliked item is put on the table. Say no thanks and move on, no drama, no whining allowed and certainly no saying something is "gross" or "yucky". So far, so good.

                    For anyone how is interested, the book Child of Mine, Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellen Slatty (I may have her name spelled wrong) is an excellent book about feeding babies and small children.

                    I can from a dysfuncational food/mealtime family and thank goodness, I read her book prior to my son starting solids. It completely educated me on kids/diet/eating/feeding and I regularly give it as a new baby gift.

                    1. re: cleobeach

                      "Say no thanks and move on"

                      YES! Thank you for teaching your kids this, cleobeach. As a junior high/high school teacher, I am absolutely amazed at the number of kids who will flip out and say something is disgusting or compare it to... let's just say bodily excrescence. I've given them two instructions: if you're not eating it, I don't want to hear what you think about it. If you ARE eating it, you may say, "I don't care for this," or, "It's not my favorite," or just, "No, thanks." But you may not say, "Eeeeeew, gross" or any variation thereof. ;)

            2. Aren't you admitting that vegetables are undesirable if you're sneaking them into stuff?
              Kids learn by example. Although it's natural to have some likes/dislikes, it seems to me that picky parents beget picky kids. If you pretty much eat everything, so will your kids.
              We put dinner on the table. No questions. That's your dinner. We ate it.They ate it. Maybe they didn't know any better, but they grew up to eat pretty much everything.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MakingSense

                Agreed. Kids are so quick to pick up on other people's prejudices for no reason other than fitting in. My son liked a lot of vegetables at an early age because he got a wide variety. and I didn't peel his fruit and vegetables for him, either. Cut up in age appropriate sizes, sure, but kids need all the fiber and nutrients they can get.
                If parents truly like veggies and don't cook them into grossness, most kids will grow up to appreciate them rather than seeing them as a necessary evil or something to avoid whenever possible. I also happen to think that severely limiting sweets and damn near banning sodas helps a lot, too.

                1. re: EWSflash

                  We were willing to recognize that some kids just truly don't like some foods. They'll probably grow to appreciate or at least tolerate them but why make a deal out of it?
                  We like a lot of stews and other dishes with onions/peppers/celery/etc, things that aren't on the favorites list for most kids. When they were little, I chopped the veggies larger and they had permission to pick out what they didn't like (with forks, not fingers!) and put it to the side of the plate. After a while, it got to be too much trouble and they started to just eat the stuff. They were already used to the flavors anyway since they were cooked into the food. Problem solved. Thank God for lazy kids!

                  1. re: EWSflash

                    I remember being horribly shocked when (when my son was a baby and I was paying attention to such things) I saw bottles with 7-up and Coke logos on them for sale. Even worse when I saw people actually giving their infants pop and koolaid in bottles.

                    Severely limiting sweets and a TOTAL ban on pop and soft drinks resulted in a child who does not have a sweet tooth and to this day still does not drink pop, a substance with absolutely nothing to recommend it.

                    It did, however, have unexpected consequences. It sort of backfired on me in that I could not bribe the child. "I'll give you ice cream if . . . " was usually met with "That's ok, I don't want any ice cream"

                    LOL! Just as well - there are better ways to relate to one's child than bribery.

                2. Yes, while they're sleeping.

                  1. I don't have the opportunity to sneak (not that I would take it if I could). My kids, though 11 and 13, still don't like dishes that combine ingredients (casseroles, stews, etc). They both hate soup (my son says, "Mom..it basically just wet food"). So, no hiding for me. It's all out there for them to see.

                    I think the hiding thing took off because Jerry Seinfeld's wife got a lot of push with her Deceptively Delicious mess. I like the one nutritionist who made the point that even if you're putting cauliflower in the mac and cheese, you're teaching your child to choose mac & cheese, not the cauliflower.

                    My kids get well-prepared veggies with almost every dinner (pizza and taco nights excluded). Whenever they complain about the roasted asparagus or haricots verts, I threaten to hit them with my childhood veggies...can of corn, can of peas, into the pot and onto the plate. That oughta fix 'em.

                    1. I'm not a parent, but I've been a vegetable-hating kid, I'm now a vegetable-LOVING vegetarian, and I'm a junior high teacher so I'm around kids all the time.

                      I believe in respecting kids' taste preferences. When parents are planning meals, they don't serve a bunch of foods they hate. Typically, a meal reflects the taste preferences of the parents. In the same way parents respect their own preferences, I think they should respect the preferences of children too young to prepare their own meals. There's research out there that shows the differences in the taste buds of children versus adults, and science aside there is the simple matter of personal preference. There were a lot of things that made me physically gag as a young child (I always used to puke up strawberries because I found the texture repulsive) but I grew into those tastes later. For the most part my parents accommodated me while still serving fairly balanced meals (though their idea of a balanced meal back in 1990 is quite different than my own today), and I appreciate that.

                      All that being said, I also think kids need to eat nutritious foods. I seriously resent my parents thinking that I could handle applying sunscreen as an adolescent. I wasn't capable of making smart choices about sunscreen as an eleven- or twelve-year-old. The same goes for food. If your child is not capable of making healthy choices, or if accommodating their preferences means they're not getting a balanced diet, I think it's okay to TRY sneaking in some vegetables (or other food group) in whatever way works. If your child still gags at the taste, give up on parsnips and try zucchini next time. But do what you can to give them the nutrients they need.

                      1. My son wouldn't eat vegetables as a child. (Corn doesn't count). I have no idea why. He just wouldn't. I went through a brief (and I do mean brief) period of considering the sit at the table until you clean your plate thing, but frankly I think that's child abuse and it stopped before it began.

                        I made it clear to him that he was not getting proper nutrition and continued to present vegetables. It might not have been such a problem, but he wouldn't eat meat either. Catering to that was out of the question and it didn't happen. Eventually he got over most of it, but it took years. (He still won't eat much in the way of meat)

                        Even faced with that, I still wouldn't (and didn't) do it. As another poster noted, there are issues of trust involved. I wouldn't secretly read his mail, either. I don't think it's cute and I don't think it's clever. Lying to your family about what you're feeding them is just wrong on so many levels.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                          Yeah, you're right about the sit at the table until you finish xxx- Gods above, anybody that had to go through that shiz almost has to have an issue. You're also right about the trust issues. You don't lie to your family about what they're eating. Why did they get the bug about vegetables, anyway? Vegetables are about my favorites.

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            I think it must have been a texture thing, because he ate all the mooshed baby stuff with no problem.

                            It did not help that my ex wouldn't let me stop giving him bottles until way late (I don't remember exactly when but it was MONTHS if not a year after he should have had sippy cups and solid food) because someone at work had told him not to take him off the bottle until he was drinking a full 8 oz of formula at once. Well he ALWAYS had a low appetite and never got over about 6 oz at a sitting. I had to wait for for the ex to go on a long business trip to wean the kid off the bottle. By the time he got back, my son was eating solid food and drinking out of a sippy cup, as should have been the case for a long time.

                            Of course the ex threw a hissy fit (big fight, freakin' control freak!). Then when someone at work (a different someone) took my side on the issue, suddenly *I* was the one who kept the kid on the bottle for too long.


                            Anyway by the time I had him totally switched over to solid foods, and because it happened basically all at once instead of gradually over time, I think he had texture issues. Nothing tasted right or even felt right in his mouth. Wish I'd put my foot down earlier.

                        2. I think I should start sneaking vegetables in. My kid is in an anti-veggie phase and I want to make sure he eats more nutritious foods. I won't lie about what's in his food, but I won't point it out until he's eaten a good amount either. I don't think it's so bad to let the kid eat a brownie without telling them in advance that it was made with spinach. It doesn't seem the same as lying to them or tricking them if, after they eat half of it, you say, "Aren't these good? I made them with spinach, so they're a little healthier too!" It's not like he knows all the ingredients of everything we put in front of him.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Pia

                            Isn't it instilling pretty poor habits to allow your child to choose a brownie for supper even if you secretly know there's some spinach lurking in there?
                            Even after you tell him that you snuck in the dreaded spinach, he still got a brownie. He wins!

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              Besides, have you ever seen the fallout when one of these hiding of the vegetables schemes backfires? You'd think you killed Santa Claus.

                              Sometimes a kid doesn't eat something because it really does disagree with him - sensitivities don't need to be full blown allergies. So "hiding" the spinach in a brownie could just make your child hate brownies, when he has the same reaction to the spinach he usually has. Even if he doesn't, if someone told me they had hidden liver in something I'd just eaten, as a child and even well into adulthood, I'd have been in the bathroom throwing up. Emotional reactions to food are notorious for being particularly strong, insidious, and difficult to eradicate even with the full and knowing cooperation of the sufferer.

                              All in all it's like playing Russian Roulette with your food. What sane person, child or adult, wants to stick a fork in something with the idea in the back of his/her head that something awful lurks within? (Awful being in the eye of the beholder)

                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                Re: brownies for supper -- of course that's not a good choice. No one on this thread has suggested that spinach brownies are the equivalent of a healthy meal, just a slightly more nutritious version of a treat. I'd be "sneaking in" the extra nutrition for me just as much as him.

                                Zen, that's a good point about food sensitivities. You're right, if my kid really hated some particular food, I wouldn't sneak it in. His food aversions are generally about texture, so I'd feel comfortable mixing veggies into foods that usually don't have them. The only reason I'd tell him after he had tried a few bites would be to avoid the instinctive not wanting to try something new. I don't see "hiding" pureed squash in his mac and cheese as being much different from putting in sausage one day, or peas, or some other food. The only difference is that he may not be able to see it, but he can taste it and I'll tell him it's in there after he decides whether he likes it.

                                I should mention my kid is only three. My point of view on this would probably be different if he were old enough to have stronger and more consistent food preferences, and old enough to know what ingredients typically go into things. At this stage, it's common for me to put a plate in front of him and tell him it's "green rice and meat" or some other vague description -- he doesn't ask lots of questions about exactly what's in there, so putting extra veggies into foods that don't ordinarily have them doesn't seem that different to me.

                                1. re: Pia

                                  "green rice and meat"- a relative of mine used to tell her son that anything breaded was "cutlet." He never questioned, but always ate it. He would eat chicken, turkey, veal, eggplant, zucchini... all pounded or thinly sliced and breaded and baked. Over the years she started serving the foods plain or without breading... and he would eat it.

                                2. re: ZenSojourner

                                  "Sometimes a kid doesn't eat something because it really does disagree with him -"
                                  Zen, I have a friend who has horrible memories of him Mom making him drink his milk every morning before school, and then by the time he got to school he'd have horrible stomach aches and "distress" the rest of the day, later on in life he learned he was lactose intolerant. He called his Mom to tell her that every time she told the Nurse that he was 'faking it' and send him back to class... she was wrong. He felt vindicated

                                  1. re: cgarner

                                    My son had food sensitivities when he was young. The worst was a sensitivity to sugar. People would not (sometimes still do not) believe that he had these problems.

                                    Thankfully he outgrew it all. Some people don't.

                                  2. re: ZenSojourner

                                    for a couple of months I had battles with my son (about 10 years old then) who wouldn't drink his milk in the morning. He'd keep putting off drinking it until it was "too warm" or it was "too late" to finish it. I felt like he was trying to put one over on me. Turns out he just "didn't like it" at that time of day. After (too long) I realized that it was silly to battle; I just started serving him OJ with calcium added. End of battles. Now he drinks milk for breakfast. Sometimes we as parents can get a bit of a "bug in our bonnet" about things.

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      I so agree. My youngest grandaughter has not the slightest interest in liquids. She eats grapes by the ton. No interest in meat, loves peas, squash. Go figure. We used to obsessively follow her around with a sippy bottle and she'd occasionally humor us with an ounce or so. She's getting it somewhere! She does like a lot of foods with high liquid content, so maybe that's it. I can remember her first 6-9 months.--would drink minimal formula during the day, but would inhale the stuff at 2:00 a.m. Food is just not something about which you should be authoritarian. (OK, I'm not cooking separate meals for 5 kids, but that's a different matter.)

                              2. I grew up with a Dad who made us stay at the table until we ate what was on our plates, and we had NO say in what went on the plates… disastrous the night I tried to wash baked beans down with milk and… well I won’t gross you all out with the details.

                                Maybe because of that, I gave both of my kids their say in what kind of veggies we had, and take them to the grocery store and try to make picking out new and different foods fun. We have “eat a rainbow” weeks, if I feel that we’re getting in a rut… where we scour the produce department and farmers markets for vegetables in every color of the rainbow… (there’s no blue veggies…purple, yes, blue, no) Neither one of my daughters is a big fan of cooked vegetables… so… they eat them raw, which is probably even better for them.

                                My younger daughter has at least two friends who have lists of “don’t likes” a mile long… yet they’ve eaten at our house and have at least tried foods that I put out on the table… so what does that say? There’s a fine line between catering to your kid and giving them some control over what they eat, and I agree with some of the others who have said that the kids feelings towards foods could be mirroring the parents prejudices for and against some food items, if you have a picky eater, I feel for you, but just keep trying and give your kids some control over the foods that they eat…. Don’t HIDE veggies in stuff.
                                (that being said, I remember my mom covering cauliflower in cheese sauce and telling us it was mac & cheese, serving lamb chops and just saying we were having “chops” for dinner that night, and the best was if we were eating something that was unidentifiable to us as kids, and we’d ask what it was, she would tell us what it was in Italian,
                                Everyone knows that patate e uova taste better than potatoes and eggs and stufata is way tastier than a plain ol’ stew!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cgarner

                                  "(that being said, I remember my mom covering cauliflower in cheese sauce and telling us it was mac & cheese, serving lamb chops and just saying we were having “chops” for dinner that night, and the best was if we were eating something that was unidentifiable to us as kids, and we’d ask what it was, she would tell us what it was in Italian,"

                                  I definitely agree with that last paragraph- my mother would always come up with different names and serving ideas for dishes. Casseroles were souffles. Soups were served in mugs. As kids, my brother and I pretty much loved vegetables, but presentation was still important. We also had a salad on the table every night with dinner- dinner was not over until a serving of salad was consumed. Maybe we liked vegetables because we were exposed to them constantly... and nothing was overcooked (except broccoli, but that's how we liked it!)

                                2. You've all reminded me of a family story from way back...my college-age sister had brought her fiance over for dinner, and during the entire meal he kept tap tap tapping his fork against the side of his plate. Nobody really noticed much, but when the dishes were being cleared after everyone had left the table and he and my sister had left for their date, all around under the rim of his dinner plate was a row of green peas that he'd been hiding as he ate.
                                  Too funny!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    That's hilarious... but didn't he realize he'd be found out once the dishes were cleared? Maybe he grew up with a family dog.

                                    re: DGresh's comment below about kids growing up thinking they hate vegetables -- "Sneaking" vegetables (or, as I prefer to think of it, adding vegetables to normally vegetable-free foods) and serving a salad or cooked vegetables by themselves aren't mutually exclusive. I'd hope that other parents who resort to adding pureed or finely chopped vegetables here and there also continue to encourage their kids to try vegetables, and eat and enjoy vegetables in front of their kids. Personally, I think "sneaking" extra vegetables into foods is a great idea, not because I'm trying to trick my family, but because more veggies seems like a good thing for all of us. Just to be clear, I don't believe in lying about it.

                                    1. re: Pia

                                      He must have figured they'd be out the door before anyone noticed -lucky for him the plates weren't cleared while he was still sitting there.

                                  2. Does anyone who "sneaks" vegetables think about what's going to happen when the kid starts having major control over their own choices (it happens sooner than one thinks). They are going to still think "I don't like vegetables" and choose the meat and potatoes, or worse, the chips and dip!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      Not necessarily... I moved out of my parents' house at eighteen and was not a big fan of fruits OR vegetables (I didn't eat fruit or raw vegetables in any form but occasionally would eat some frozen peas or something). By twenty I had completely transitioned to vegetarianism and became the type of vegetarian who would eat pretty much anything that didn't contain meat. Today I've had bananas, peaches, strawberries, honeydew, carrots, peas, corn, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes and celery. At eighteen I wouldn't have been able to identify some of those foods! You CAN overcome a childhood of poor eating habits (and it doesn't take that much effort)!

                                      (PS - I still think dip is the grossest thing ever! Plain chips only- and rarely- for me!)

                                    2. When I was like three I absolutely hated parsnips (I have no idea why) so my mom put them in my muffins, I found out about it a few years later and told her that I now enjoy eating parsnips. Sneaking food is a blessing and a curse

                                      1. When I divorced my son was six. Very quickly I tired of making two dinners so I just stopped. What was served, veggies, innards, sausages etc was what was for dinner for both of us. At first he refused but hunger got the better of him so now he will eat anything. My mother was worried but my pediatrician calmed her by telling her that no child has ever starved themselves amongst Plenty.

                                        1. I was a child that didn't really like a lot of vegetables. Actually I really only remember corn, potatoes and peas (until I decided I hated peas). Slowly I would expand as I got older. I think I was 5 or 6 when I started eating iceberg lettuce. I always loved cooked tomatoes but started eating raw at 8 or 9. I didn't like raw celery until I was in college.

                                          Over the years we have added more and more but I was pretty picky vegetable wise until I was in middle school at least. I remember battles at the dinner table over trying broccoli (which I love now but didn't really like until age 13 or 14) and canteloupe which I tolerate but still isn't a favorite.

                                          My mother was the same way. Now both of use love most vegetables. I just didn't like the taste. I would try things mutliple times and finally some of them just click.

                                          Unfortunately I have been obese for awhile so I wish it would have kicked in earlier.

                                          1. Refusing to eat anything was not an option in the Owen family; we were to eat what was put before us without comment, unless it was to compliment it. There were a few things I didn't like: canned green beans (if simply heated right out of the can), wet bread of any sort (gravy NOT included!), sweet custard and hard-boiled eggs. Mom I think agreed with me about the green beans, and always either cooked them with onion and bacon or "au gratin," which she pronounced "awe grottin." Custard disappeared after WW2 rationing was lifted, and hard-boiled eggs appeared only in egg salad or potato salad, where the mayonnaise made them palatable. The only real battle I had was the plate of stewed tomatoes I was given for lunch one day, which Mom inexplicably made with torn-up bread in it – old family recipe, apparently. For the second time in my life (the first had been in infancy, about strained green beans) I refused to eat something. I sat there all afternoon, staring miserably at the plate, being periodically urged to get with it, until she finally relented (to get me off the kichen table so she could cook supper) and told me to take one bite. I did, managing to avoid the bread, and I don't think she ever made that again.

                                            Psychologists used to warn parents against requiring children to eat everything whether they liked it or not, claiming that this would inevitably lead to eating disorders. In my case it led to a severe form of omnivoracity, wherein I not only eat everything but tend to eat entirely too much of it. This includes hard-boiled eggs and sweet custard. It does not include bread in tomato juice …