Four Reasons I’m Against “Sneaking” Food.
I’m not judgmental (what works for me may not work for you & vice versa), but there are a few gray areas in my home. Whether it’s food, fitness or child-rearing I know what I want for my child and make choices I believe will empower her to get there.
It’s in this vein I’m completely against the food sneak.
You’re familiar with the sneak, yes? It’s when we slip healthy items (usually veggies) into food. It refers to pureeing/mashing *anything* a recipient would have refused and sneaking it into something s/he loves. The concept isn’t new (I remember helping my mom make black bean brownies back in the 70’s), but the emphasis on sneaking is.
And it’s popular.
Parents across the country celebrated they could finally get their family to eat particular foods without a fight. Chop, puree, sneak.
I was in, too, until that final word.
• It breaks trust. Much of my anti-sneaking stance has nothing to do with food and everything to do with my child’s trust. As an adult it wouldn’t bother me (much) to discover after eating something it was not what I’d been told. As a child? I’m not certain. In my opinion, nothing ensures my child *won’t* try new foods more than finding out I’ve tricked her. Not to mention this trust-factor bleeds into other area of life, too.
• It doesn’t build habits. Whether you’re sneaking on a six or a 40-year-old you’re not creating lifestyle changes. Sure my husband, err, child may reap the benefits of veggies if I sneak them, but what about when she’s free to make her own choices? Healthy living should be about the layering of healthy habits one upon another. We need to help our children (or spouses or partners) learn and embrace a lifestyle.
• It takes the FUN from nutrition. My daughter and I love to sneak — on ourselves. She’s aware veggies are part of a healthy food plan. She also knows neither she nor I will love all veggies so we’ve transformed the sneak into a game. We puree anything we aren’t tremendously fond of and see if we can find a way we’ll eat it! Sometimes our self-sneaks rock (hello cauliflower in her mac & cheese) and other times not so much (greetings green peppers in *anything*). Either way we have fun, together, creating in the kitchen.
• It isn’t empowering. I’m a believer in gifting our children with roots and wings. When we sneak we underestimate what our kids are capable of. Sure, it’s been a challenge to steer my daughter away from sweet fruits and toward summer veggies — but her pride when she makes (and enjoys!) the veggie-choice is palpable. She’s learning what she likes and doesn’t like. She’ll happily add kale and avocado to her smoothies yet decline my offer of spinach. She’s finding her voice in the kitchen and this extends to other parts of her growing world as well.
Have you successfully sneaked veggies into a loved one’s food & feel firmly it’s the way to go?
Are you a fan of the open-sneak and believe we can teach and empower those around us in that way?
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