KIDS AND FOOD
Who would have ‘em eh. But now that we’ve got them, what do we do with them, especially when they won’t eat anything you put down to them. We have all been through that at one time or another; some of us are still going through it!
This section is not about making sure that feeding your kids is the politically right way to do it - healthy diets, nutrition etc. It is simply about getting them to eat. So, how do we do it?
Sheila and I have two very adult sons. The eldest is a university lecturer in computers and the other is a Police Officer. However, 30 years ago – they were little tearaways who would not eat a thing we put down to them. We could never produce a meal that all four of us could sit down to, eat and enjoy together. One would eat meat, but no vegetables. The other would eat vegetables, but no meat. Sheila and I were no problem. We knew what we liked and cooked accordingly. Because we both worked, and had different working hours we shared the tasks of preparing meals. As a prison Governor, I worked alternative weekends and was permanently ‘on-call’ by radio pager whenever there was an emergency in the prison – which was quite frequent. Sheila joined the service once the lads had left school and found their own way in life and set up their own families. They are now going through the same feeding problems that we had thirty years ago. We have three grandchildren and receive regular feedback on how they are coping with the same problems of ‘what to feed the kids?’
One memory that relates the problem quite vividly is when we took the youngest one to the hospital because he would not eat anything except for Heinz baked beans and sausages. Sheila kept threatening him that he would turn into a baked bean or a sausage if he kept on eating them. The doctor’s advice was quite simple and clear. "If he wants beans and sausages let him have them, he will soon tire of them and his diet will change". The doctor’s advice was correct. Within a couple of months, he sickened of beans and sausages and to this day, he cannot look at beans and sausages without feeling nauseous.
Earlier this year I had to return to the UK from Spain to attend my mother’s funeral. The weather was so bad – snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, that the funeral had to be delayed for two weeks. I took the opportunity to head south and spend some valuable time with the grandchildren. One of my fondest memories was when I was preparing a meal for everybody. Two of the grandchildren were sitting at the table watching me prepare the meal. I was preparing a side salad of orange, yellow and red peppers. As I was slicing the peppers and placed them in a bowl, I sensed that there was something ‘just not quite right’. I was on to my fifth pepper and the bowl was not getting any fuller. I placed a mirror strategically and watched what was happening behind me. Each time I sliced a pepper and put it in the bowl, two little hands snaked out and grabbed a handful of peppers, which rapidly disappeared – they loved raw peppers. This is great, I thought. Sweet Peppers contain vast amounts of vitamin C, which young bodies need for healthy growth and development.
While at my other son’s house, little Sam was very particular about what she ate. Nothing seemed to please her. “I don’t like that!”, was a regular statement at mealtimes. However, she loved to walk around with a ‘German’ sausage in her hand. This was very reminiscent of thirty years previous; her dad would run around the room in his baby-walker, chomping on a pork chop, or a handful of potato chips and a chocolate biscuit. I am sure that all of you out there have similar stories to relate.
“Variety” and “presentation” seem to be the keywords for getting kids to eat. Give them enough choice, well presented and looking attractive and an opportunity to assist in preparing their own food, and you are on the way to solving the problem. Healthy eating is always a consideration of course and should never be ignored. For this reason, we have built into these pages, links to websites that deal specifically with nutrition and healthy options. Please follow these links to obtain the best information available on these specialised topics.
But in the mean-time, take a look at the recipes that we have dredged up from our database which should provide you with a library of ideas for a variety of different fun foods - many of which you can encourage the kids to assist in the preparation of. By assisting in the making of the meal, you encourage the children to broaden their outlook on food and to try different types of food. It is also a good way to encourage them to study basic cookery in preparation for later life. Living on a budget while at University really stretches the imagination (and purse strings), so any knowledge base obtained early in life reaps rewards later on.
For recipes and additional information visit Bill & Sheila Robinsons website: www.billandsheilascookbook.com/kidsrecipes.html and the UK Food Standards Agency www.eatwell.gov.uk