Fort Worth, Texas,
11:01 AM

Mom, have you tried the lima beans?

Parents' influence on their child's eating habits

"Yum", I think to myself as I go through the serving line at the home of my in-laws. I am making plates for my kiddos first and skip right over the lima beans. "Get some lima beans for the kids," my father-in -law suggests. "Oh, they don't like lima beans," is my immediate answer. "Well, let them try them," he playfully suggests. "Ok," I think, but I really do hate to waste food. We sit down to a wonderful meal (my plate has no lima beans) and my kids gobble up every single bite of their lima beans. And I realize it is ME who doesn't like lima beans.

It is so interesting to note that maternal food preferences (what moms eat, why we eat, and how much we eat) strongly influences the eating behavior of our children. Like so many areas of parenting, our kids will do what we do way more readily than they will do what we say.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a great time to give thanks for our own health and for the health or our children. It is a great time to reflect on the self-care we model for our own children. Studies suggest that toddlers may need to taste a food 10-15 times before they decide it is something they want to eat. Maybe, just maybe, as grown-ups we should try some new foods as well.

Here are some healthy Thanksgiving ideas from Theresa Nash, director of Food and Nutrition Services at Cook Children’s:

1. A sweet potato casserole can be prepared in a healthy manner, and because of their sweetness may be enjoyed by children.

2. Disguising a vegetable in a mixture of children's other well accepted food is a way to get them to later choose them prepared in other ways: ex: broccoli and rice or yellow squash casserole.

3. Try something more unique and unexpected like Brussel sprouts.

As for me, I will work on giving lima beans another 8-10 chances …

After she gave us her tips. Theresa gave us a fun Brussel sprouts’ recipe. She said this is one she loves and she’s still making for her “grown” kids today:


Roasted Brussels Sprouts-Kids “and Parents” will Enjoy

  • 1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste: optional
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degree F.
  2. Cut the ends of the brussels sprouts and cut each in half.
  3. Whisk olive oil, honey, garlic, (salt and black pepper) in a bowl. Toss in Brussels sprouts and stir to coat.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with dried fruit and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

About the author

Kim Mangham, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician at 1601 Keller Parkway in Keller, Texas. She earned her medical degree at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. She completed the pediatric residency program at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. Her interests include breastfeeding education as well as disease and injury prevention. Dr. Mangham is board certified in pediatrics.

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