fbpx Print Friendly Logo

Want to share this page with your friends?

A Story of “Food Sneaking” Gone Horribly Awry

Posted on: January 21st, 2013 by Bettina Elias Siegel

As followers of TLT’s Facebook page know, last week I finally bought a Vitamix after lusting after one for years. My old blender (a wedding gift from 1998) could barely blend a banana without making alarming sounds and the motor smelling like it was about to ignite, so it’s been amazing to see what this powerful appliance can do.

Given the ability of the Vitamix to pulverize food so finely, a few days ago I had the sudden epiphany that I could sneak all kinds of healthy foods into a “fruit” smoothie with no one being the wiser. I found myself looking across the kitchen at my veggie-averse son and fantasizing about the mountains of kale, carrots, spinach and other healthful vegetables I could start sneaking into that nutrient-deprived body on a regular basis . . . .

[Cue dreamy music, insert montage of beautifully lit vegetables, cut to happy child running through a field and smiling gratefully at veggie-sneaking parent.]

But wait!  Stop!  You already know I’m no fan of food sneaking (see “To Sneak or Not to Sneak . . . Hiding Healthful Ingredients in Kids’ Food.”)  And if I hadn’t been sure of my position already, I totally agreed with a recent and very timely post from Dina Rose of It’s Not About Nutrition on exactly this topic — using the smoothie to sneak in vegetables – and why it’s a bad idea.

And yet . . . there it was on my cutting board, one peeled carrot left over from a salad I was making, ready and waiting to toss into the orange-peach smoothie my son requested yesterday afternoon.  What harm could it cause?   Without much forethought, I threw it in the Vitamix with the rest of the ingredients and produced this beautifully colored drink:


Then my carrot-hating son took a sip and actually said, “This is the BEST juice ever!  You can make this for me every day if you want.”

Wow!  The script was playing out just like the movie in my head, only better!  All I had to do was keep my mouth shut and start planning tomorrow’s kale and spinach – oops, I mean “green apple” — smoothie.

But, dear readers, I just couldn’t do it.  One look at that sweet, trusting face and I felt utterly wracked with guilt.  If you have an aversion to eating snails but I just know you’d love escargots if only you’d try them, do I have the right pass them off to you as mushrooms?  Even if you’re my own child, I think I do not.  And as hard as it is for me to understand it, the feelings many people have about eating snails — utter disgust — is exactly how my son feels about eating carrots.

So I took a deep breath and confessed.  It told him I’d added “a little bit” of carrot, hoping he’d remember it was the “BEST juice ever” and just move on.

Well, he did not move on.  He looked totally distressed – almost to he point of tears – and then quite angrily reminded me that I’d once told him I was notthe kind of mom who would ever sneak things into his food.  And what could I say?  He was absolutely right.  I’d been a complete hypocrite.  And of course he wouldn’t take another sip of the juice.

So now I have the worst of all worlds.  I won’t sneak again – depriving myself of a convenient method of boosting his nutrient-intake — yet my son is still going to regard everything I serve him with well-deserved suspicion, at least until this incident fades from memory.

So what’s the point of sharing this story? Learn from my mistakes.

If you think food sneaking is a great idea (and many people do) then go for it, but just make sure you have the stomach for being dishonest with your kids. Because if your kid has expressly told you she doesn’t want to eat a certain food and you sneak it past her anyway, then you are in fact being dishonest with your child — even if your motives are pure, even she never finds out, even if it turns out to be a great strategy and your kid starts loving the hated food.

At its core, that sort of sneaking is lying.

And if you don’t have the fortitude to go down the sneaking path all the way, then please don’t be an idiot like me and go down it halfway, or you’ll only find yourself in hot water.

Or drowning in the rejected carrot smoothie of your own making.


Bettina Elias Siegel is a former lawyer, freelance magazine writer and blogger. In early 2010, merging her interest in children and food with her love of writing, she launched The Lunch Tray, a widely read, dailyblog covering anything related to “kids and food, in school and out.”   With two children in Houston public schools, Siegel is also actively involved in trying to improve school food in the district as a member of the HISD Food Services Parent Advisory Committee and chairperson of the food/nutrition subcommittee of HISD’s School Health Advisory Council (SHAC).