My child won’t eat green peas!

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My child won’t eat green peas!

Ah the green pea, or whatever green vegetable you are battling at the moment. Believe me I know what you are going through. Those green vegetables seem to be the last lonely thing on the plate and all you want to do is ever so gently force your child to at least try them. But you resist because you’ve read my other posts about why you shouldn’t do that (http://www.beansproutnutrition.ca/help-my-toddler-has-become-a-picky-eater/). Why do some kids baulk at the sight of anything green on their plates while others eat them without question? Let’s find out.

Diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Taste preferences actually start to develop well before your baby is born. If you consumed a variety of foods when pregnant your little one tasted those delicious flavours too. When continued during breastfeeding she developed a flavour for a multitude of tastes as she experienced your foods right along with you.

Taste buds

Children have many more taste buds in their mouths than adults. More taste buds equal stronger taste sensation. For some this can mean hypersensitivity to the bitter taste of vegetables. Have you ever tasted something you found completely repulsive? Well, magnify by about 100 to put your child’s reactions into perspective. Simply put, bitter vegetables can taste very strong to young eaters. As we age we lose some taste buds so foods that were previously bitter to the tongue seems to be milder.

Genetics

Have you noticed that there always seems to be one child who happily sits munching away at the crudités platter at parties? I know those kids too. Well, she might like vegetables because her genetic make-up created her that way. Much like we inherit our eye colour, our like (or dislike) of vegetables might be inherent. I think that’s why my husband and son fight over olives and I can’t seem to keep them stocked in my home. At many family gatherings I’m reminded that as a young boy my husband loved olives. On the contrary it took me well into my early 20’s to develop an appreciation for them.  My son’s genetic make-up (the 50% from his father’s side) may be the reason he is becoming an olive aficionado. Did you like green vegetables as a child or did you have to re-discover them later on? The answer could help you appreciate your child’s attitude towards peas.

What can I do to fix this?

Even if you ate well during pregnancy and breastfed sometimes those taste buds and genetics work against you. So what can you do right now? Start small and work up, or as I like to say – exercise your child’s taste buds. I know, I know – how can you exercise those taste buds if the green peas never leave the plate? Here are a couple of suggestions to add some green (and other) vegetables to foods you may already be preparing and increase the opportunities for your child to enjoy more bitter tastes: add a variety of vegetables to pasta sauces, dice peppers to add to scrambled eggs, make a spinach quiche or add spinach to meatloaf, mix in peas and corn to rice based dishes, increase the amount of carrots you use in your chicken soup, add pumpkin puree to macaroni and cheese, serve savoury muffins with sweet potato or zucchini, try kale chips…and still let your child see those green vegetables on their plate. I’m not suggesting you mask the vegetables – kids should know there is pumpkin in the macaroni. Your child needs to trust you when it comes to food. But you can be creative in your attempts to increase the veggies in everyone’s meals.

There is no magic in getting your child to eat vegetables. It takes patience and some creative cooking but slowly your child’s taste buds will change resulting in that loathed green vegetable becoming a tasty and palatable side dish.  And rest assured – I’m fairly certain that no child has ever perished from not having eaten a green pea.

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