“The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.”
~ Deepak Chopra
It’s no secret not all kids like vegetables, or anyone for that matter, but when, where and why did vegetables get such a bad rap? Are they really distasteful, stigmatized or is it how they’re presented?
There are varied approaches parents use to coax their kids into eating healthy, but many of the strategies backfire.
Kids choose on emotions and intricate social relational evaluations. These remain the foundation of our decision-making into our adult lives, no matter the level of rational thought.
We’re all a bit childish in this way and we can learn about our minds, our habits and ourselves by examining kids and vegetables, we can even find strategies to forward our goals and approach life with thriving novelty.
On NPR’s The Salt: What’s On Your Plate and featured in Morning Edition, Patti Neighmond explores Selling Kids On Veggies When Rules Like ‘Clean Your Plate’ Fail in part of the series On The Run: How Families Struggle To Eat Well And Exercise. The series is based on polls from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Including studies and interviews Kelly Brownell of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and Ktristi King, a registered dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital, the findings reveal more than just how to help kids.
Conventional Authority Results in Opposite of Desired Effect
The go-to approaches to influencing kid’s healthy eating habits are “clean your plate” and setting restrictions on what types of food are eaten.
Much like a lot of the rules imposed on adults in conventional confinement, absurd regulations and restrictions result in the opposite of what is desired. Ruling by force simply does not equate results.
Brownell reported demanding children eat things like vegetables before dessert, for instance, makes it seem as through there is something wrong with eating vegetables. King supported the evidence with studies revealing kids have a negative response when given commands to eat more.
Demanding never works–for kids and vegetables, people and recycling or you and your goals.
The mind controls what we do–if we let it–but we can control our mind and therefore what we do. We just have to know where our mind is running on predisposed notions and where it is functioning on reason, emotion or conscious pursuit.
Let’s look at a few positive mind paths we can explore to gain the upper hand on ourselves by looking further into kids and vegetables.
1. Creative negotiation.
As a better option, King discusses creative negotiation, offering her own titles such as “Try It Tuesdays,” where parents and kids pick something new to eat every Tuesday. The kid is part of the decision and process, investing in the new food.
If we don’t create a thought habit of proactively steering our decisions, we succumb to conventional authority and negative results.
When try to change habits ourselves, it’s important to use creative negotiation.
Instead of telling yourself what you don’t want to do, tell yourself what you want to do–repeatedly. Write it down, post it everywhere, think about it constantly and ideas will turn to action.
Invest in the good. Just as “Try It Tuesdays” makes kids invest in the process and results in them eating healthier options with free will, when we invest ourselves into something we connect to it on a deeper level and are driven by volition to complete it.
How else can you creatively negotiate yourself into being happier, more successful, healthier, achieving a goal or anything else you desire?
2. “No Thank You Bites.”
King furthers her advice by suggesting “no thank you bites,” where kids are encouraged to take at least one bite to try and if they don’t like it, they simply say no thank you.
In some cases, no thank you turns into thank you and the kids eat up. They don’t feel pressured and know it’s their own decision.
What’s important is the child’s mindset before tasting. The parent-child relationship sets up trust or distrust and the result will be a child feeling more or less independent and free of judgment. If they truly feel free, they are more likely to make a decision on their own.
Throughout our lives we can benefit from seeing the world as a big plate offering us “no thank you bites.”
Try everything you like and a lot of things you think you don’t like. You can always say no thank you.
And remember, what’s important is that you try it with an open mind. If you predispose yourself to dislike it before it goes in your mouth, you probably won’t give it a chance before saying “no thank you.”
Fill your plate with opportunities and let the games begin.
3. The Revelatory Rule Adjuster
When it comes to kids and vegetables, setting the right example as a parent is paramount. Children are observant creatures. They learn from their surroundings and parents are central. If you want your kid to eat veggies, accept and support their independence and enjoy them yourself.
The revelatory change-mandate for adults comes from adjusting this rule.
When we want to make a change for the better, we first need to break from social influences that may be blinding our choice and then proactively surround ourselves with role models.
We are in full control of centralizing our values and choosing who we incorporate in our lives. Kids will follow your lead as a parent, whose lead will you follow?
4. Go All Out
Some maintain a concern that having healthy food at home will result in kids gorging out on junk elsewhere and when they flee the nest. Brownell says evidence does not support this, but research does support having only good foods around the house.
There’s no reason to hold back on what you want to achieve. Go all out, put it all in and make it happen using the tools above plus intuitive innovation.
Burn out is real, but you can no doubt go all out and maintain resolute with robust vigor.
Be forthright, fearless, paced, patient, persistent, creative, collaborative, dedicated and determined.
Tie The Bow, Eat the Veggies
Bringing all these together to tie a pleasing little bow of sense and a powerhouse of change helps kids eat veggies and you do what it is you want to do.
It’s about blending external and internal motivations to achieve sustainable success, control and content.
Do these tips help you? What else can we learn from kids that benefit us as adults?