A Little Fuhrman Tale

Most of us were sitting at the dinner table but we had a bigger crowd than usual, my sister and her two children, as well as my mother were there, visiting from Florida. Joel was standing up (not unusual--he usually eats that way) and we were all eating except Hailey, my four-year-old niece and she was complaining that she was hungry. Haily doesn't eat too many real foods.  When offered, it is always, (without even tasting it) "I don't like that". Lots of talk was going on so I really didn't think Joel heard her, but he did. He took out a bag of blanched almonds and told Hailey she couldn't have any because he needed them all for his strength and to be smart. He just was going on and on about if she ate them, there would not be enough for him to be so strong and he needs them for his work.  .

He started to go into a very dramatic routine about how our son, Sean (eight-years-old and Hailey's idol) loved slivered almonds (something Sean and I didn't know) and that Sean was going to get very strong from eating them, but that she couldn't have any because both him and Sean must have enough.  Well Joel was really playing it up for a good 5 minutes and we were all getting a kick from it except Hailey.  She didn't budge in saying she was hungry or showing any interest in the almonds. Sean however was very affected by his daddy's words about getting strong and he started eating the slivered almonds like never before. So, we all had a good laugh about Sean and kept eating. Hailey was given something else to eat.

What makes this story remarkable is that a full 10 minutes after Joel's performance ended, Hailey started eating the slivered almonds like nobody's business. We adults had gone on, continued our conversations and forgot about the recent attempt Joel made to get Hailey to try a new healthy food. We were completely amazed that Joel's antic worked. Hailey couldn't put enough almonds into her mouth and thoroughly enjoyed them. We all stopped, looked and were astounded.  We thought there was no way he could get this picky eater to eat something new. 

I'm not saying that a parent has to always outwit the child to get them to try something new, but in this case, and in our experience with our four children it certainly works. No arguments occur and we get our way (how often does that happen?)



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Linda - November 20, 2009 2:05 PM

I moved to Sweden a few years ago and it astonishes me how badly children here eat. I don't have children of my own and am only an observer, yet it seems to me that vegetables are considered an acquired taste that people only get used to when they are older, like coffee. Younger children are usually given special "children's food", which nearly always consists of a plate of fried meatballs and white pasta, or sausages (a combination of viscera, fat and cereal) and mashed potatoes (from a packet). The only vegetables considered child-friendly are usually in the form of tomato sauce (ketchup) and, perhaps, a few token slices of carrot and cucumber. Many Swedes continue to eat like this into adulthood and shy away from trying new tastes. I simply don't get it.

Carrie - November 20, 2009 2:29 PM

Lisa, I love your stories about creative ways to get the kids to eat well. Keep them coming!

Karen - November 20, 2009 6:39 PM

What a wonderful story. My 20-year-old son has been watching my husband and I make smoothies from kale, spinach, lettuce, berries, dates, avocadoes, nuts, and bananas. He was surprised a few evenings ago to hear that my husband has gone off his medications for psoriasis and now was completely controlling his rashes with blending. After I went to sleep last night, he asked my husband if what he grabbed out of the refridgerator was kale. Needless to say, he blended it with his fruit and drank the whole thing! Even older kids can learn by example!

Cindy - November 20, 2009 7:25 PM

Nothing wrong with outwitting a little one! After all, it was done sweetly and the outcome was positive. Far better than attempting coercion, which never works, or giving in and letting the bad habits become entrenched. This is creative education and a technique we can all borrow. Thanks, Lisa!

And to Linda: How disillusioning to learn that Swedish kids eat as poorly as our own. I hope you can set a positive example in your own community, at least with adults. Good luck.

Marsie - November 20, 2009 8:13 PM

I had a similar experience with peas when I was 5. I called them add-a-beans and was led to believe sorting them into groups (multiples of a random integer) and then eating them would make me good in math. I graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics.

aunt cia - November 21, 2009 8:15 AM

At our house, what's good for Mama (who was the 1st to learn of ETL) is good for the rest of the family. This includes greens and berries smoothies, which our children began eating with much hesitation, but now is becoming routine. Every now and again, it becomes a "chore" for one of them to drink a smoothie. This wk it was my 6 yr old son. A friend was here and she led him to believe that she was the smoothie champion and that she was the fastest smoothie drinker. Well, not to be outdone at ALL, Austin drank that smoothie down lickety split! Pretty funny AND he got his greens in, too!

Tiltmom - November 21, 2009 12:57 PM

Dear Lisa,

My 8-year-old will be arriving at your home via FedEx on Monday morning. We have enclosed a Pre-addressed Shipping Label. Please return him when he's eating a well-rounded diet, and bill us accordingly.

Thank you.

[I am certain there is a market for this. You could market a summer camp -- "Send your child to Camp Eat Healthy. We promise you he will return eating kale and walnuts, or your money back!"]

Lynne (Horsecrazy) - November 21, 2009 10:22 PM

What a great story! Thanks for sharing this.

Elijah Lynn - November 24, 2009 11:01 AM

That is a great story Lisa! I will have to remember that for when I am a parent someday.

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