Cultural Dilemmas

Cultural Dilemmas and Issues of Asian Moms in the U.S.

How To Make Our Children Eat Our Healthy Asian Cuisine?

4 Comments

Do your children like eating  your native food? Many Asian moms will say no. Our children love eating pizzas, burgers and french fries, but not our native cuisine. Most of us cook our native food and have a hard time feeding it to our children.

Veggie dominant asian cuisine

Veggie dominant Asian cuisine

Asian recipes, whether Thai, Chinese, or Indian use lots of vegetables and whole grains, and our children do not eat them. Asian cuisines are considered one of the most healthiest cuisines in the world. How can we convince our kids to make healthy food choices and eat our nutritious veggie dominant native foods. I have some suggestions which will be helpful.

Create A Story Behind The Food. Time and again I talk about the power of stories in my blog posts. Understand what your child likes doing or something he/she aspires to have. Create a story associated with the benefits of the food  you want your child to eat. For example, I created a story to make my daughter eat carrots. I told her that her eyes will become beautiful if she ate them. The funny part is that she ate carrots, and next day she checked her eyes in the mirror and asked me why there were no sparkles in her eyes.

Fusion Of American And Asian Recipes. Don’t be rigid about feeding your native food to them all the time. Mix your native cuisine with the one your child likes to eat. For example, add your native touch to Mac and Cheese, pizza and pasta by adding your native spices and vegetables. It this way your children will develop a taste for your traditional food and spices.

An Indian child using the rolling pin to make bread in the traditional Indian style

An Indian child using the rolling pin to make bread in the traditional Indian style

Involve Children While Cooking Your Native Food. Let your child help you cook food. You can involve them by making them wash vegetables, giving them a blunt plastic knife to cut them, or by making them use a rolling pin and help you make bread in your traditional style. Children will like to eat food they helped cooking. Doing things together also brings you closer as a family. Do not get upset if they create a mess.

Use Examples From The TV Shows Or Cartoons They Like. Our children love to watch their favorite TV shows and cartoons and try to imitate what they do. Use these examples to make them try new food. For example, my daughter loves watching Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids. Daniel Tiger’s mom tells her not to say no to new food before trying it. I have tried this with my daughter giving Daniel Tiger’s example while convincing her to eat my native food. It works most of the time, but when it doesn’t, I never force her. In this way she tries and eats most of my native food.

Add Shapes And Colors To The Food. Children are very visual and they do not like eating something that doesn’t look good. Cut your native food into different shapes, may be a circle, a star, or a triangle. Add colors to them by making a smiley on top of it with ketchup.

Set An Example. It is important to practice what you preach. Children will follow you if you set a good example of eating your native cuisine yourself.

Make eating food an enjoyable experience for kids. We Asian moms always have to blend the two cultures- our native as well as American in whatever we do. We have to practice this approach with food as well so that our children make healthy food choices.

Photo 1: Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 thoughts on “How To Make Our Children Eat Our Healthy Asian Cuisine?

  1. I love the idea of storytelling! When I was young, my mother would make traditional Trinidadian food and I loved eating it (except for pelau because there were too many beans!). One of the things I remember the most was a story filled with Trini folktales, and in one of them there was a story about Callaloo. They whole neighborhood came together to put ingredients in the pot, and the result was delicious. From then on, I associated curry chicken, pelau, soups, and more, with community and homeyness. Great post! Keep telling those stories and there will be sparkles in her eyes!

  2. The idea of having children help their parents cook the native cuisine is definitely great! When I was younger my mom would try to force me to eat veggies and other healthy choices but all I ever wanted was chicken tenders and pizza. When my mom began allowing me to help her cook my whole outlook on food changed greatly. It is important to let your child know the benefits of healthy eating but giving them that opportunity to pitch in helps them become more familiar with the food and they won’t be so hesitant to try it. I loved your post and parents everyday can definitely take something positive away from this.

    • The idea of having children help their parents cook the native cuisine is definitely great! When I was younger my mom would try to force me to eat veggies and other healthy choices but all I ever wanted was chicken tenders and pizza. When my mom began allowing me to help her cook my whole outlook on food changed greatly. It is important to let your child know the benefits of healthy eating but giving them that opportunity to pitch in helps them become more familiar with the food and they won’t be so hesitant to try it. I loved your post and parents everywhere can definitely take something positive away from this.

  3. Navjot,

    Wonderful ideas for having your child eat your native foods. I think that your tips can be applied to any culture. My daughter is a healthy but picky eater. She will gladly choose vegetables and fruit over french fries or chicken nuggets. I do struggle to get her to try different foods though. I think incorporating your child’s favorite shows and allowing them to help is a great idea. Being a good example and showing your child how they should behave or what they should be eating is the best way, in my opinion, for them to learn.

    I loved your post! It made me smile hearing about your daughter’s sparkle in her eyes! 🙂

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