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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

A Dinner Conversation

This week is all about Health on Sid the Science Kid. I thought you might be interested and amused by a conversation we had at my house over dinner this week. Turns out that I had something to learn about nutrition from my little scientists.
For dinner I made the boys leftover grilled chicken, stuffing, and peas. In an ongoing, never-ending effort to build healthy eating into my lifestyle, I decided to throw together a spinach salad with chicken, cashews, peaches, cheese, and vinaigrette for myself. What happened when I sat down at the table with Henry and Leo was a big surprise.
Henry: Mom, what’s that? [Pointing to the salad.]
Me: A green salad. [Cleverly evading a word Henry dislikes: “spinach.”]
Henry: Would I like it?
Me: I don’t know. [Nonchalantly.] I love it. [Avoiding eye contact.]
Leo: Can I smell a leaf?
Me: Sure. [Placing leaf, cashew, peach on Leo’s plate.]
Leo: I like this food.
Henry: Me too! I want some.
Me: Okay, okay, but remember this is my dinner. [Keeping it cool.]
Henry: [Munching] Mom, I like this! I like the sauce. Can I have more leaves?
Mom: Please use your manners.
Henry: Please? Why haven’t you given us salad before? [From the mouths of babes.]
Then I watched my little boys devour spinach and chicken salad. It was glorious.
I am sure you understand why I felt victorious; and a little bit guilty. Had I forgotten to offer them salad over the years? The boys like all kinds of vegetables and I try to offer them new things. What happened? I am a terrible veggie consumer. I don’t like a lot of green vegetables and I struggle to work them into my diet. I do, however, love salad.
The truth is that I don’t take the time to make a salad for myself very often. I also don’t follow the healthy eating habits that I am trying to instill in my children. I suddenly realized that I was not modeling the habits I am trying to teach. Henry was interested in my salad because Mommy was eating the salad. It isn’t enough for me to serve Henry and Leo dinner and pretend that they do not notice the peas and broccoli missing from my own plate.
A foundation of my healthy eating philosophy is to give all the food on the dinner plate equal enthusiasm. By doing this, the kids don’t feel pressure to eat the veggies like I did when I was a kid. We talk a lot about the colors, textures, and taste of food, and I try not to say “eat your veggies!” What kind of subtle message am I sending when we have the conversations over my vegetable-free plate?
So where do we go from here? Well, the kids and I had a great conversation about all the different kinds of things that can go into salads. We planned a menu built around salmon and lettuce cups for later in the week. (Henry insists on the same salad sauce.) As a parent, I believe that it’s my responsibility to provide them with a variety of healthy food options and the flexibility to make some of their own food choices. As an adult who is trying to become a healthier person, I owe it to myself to follow my own advice.
What challenges do you face as you try and teach your children about healthy eating habits? How do you introduce new foods to your dinner table?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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