Home > How to Leverage the Appetite > More Dinner Table Lessons from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’

More Dinner Table Lessons from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’


Behind the times as usual, I finally watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution—all six episodes at once. We can draw out some meaty lessons for parents who want to change the way their kids eat from Oliver’s strategies to change the way America eats, one school at a time and one town at a time.

Oliver’s first attempt at getting elementary school kids eating healthier was the addition of a healthy meal with real chicken (something unfamiliar) alongside the school’s regular fare: pizza. When given the choice, between the new, healthy meal or their usual pizza, of course the kids chose pizza.

As Oliver also found out, if you offer pink milk or chocolate milk alongside plain milk, the girls take the pink and the boys take the chocolate. Nothing terribly shocking there so far. However, he discovered if you boldly, ruthlessly take away the flavored, sugary milk options altogether, the kids have to take the plain milk. When you get rid of the junk and offer only healthy choices, they have to take them. And they do. Why? Because they’re hungry!

Luciano tempts Aniella with a piece of sausage. - photo by Anna Migeon

If your kids are picky eaters, chances are it’s because you:

  1. Try to make them eat certain things.
  2. Give them what they do want to eat after all when they won’t eat what you try to make them eat, just to get them to eat.

As Oliver shows, if we use this riding-the-fence, half-ass, afraid-they’ll-go-hungry approach of serving our target food while still making available their target food (just in case), we shouldn’t be too surprised when they keep eating their target food. If we continue to supply children with bad choices, they will keep eating them. It’s wishful thinking to think they’ll eat what you want them to eat unless that’s their only choice. If all your kids will eat is chicken nuggets, it’s high time to quit enabling them. Quit buying chicken nuggets.  If they get hungry–and they will–they will eat what’s available, what you know they need, to be healthy. If we’re so afraid that kids won’t like the healthy foods that we give them harmful junk just to get them to eat, what a major disservice we do them. Our only choice is to follow Oliver’s bold move, and. as he says, “Make every choice a good one.”

©  Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 6 May 2010 / All rights reserved

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  1. May 26, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Nice post indeed. Thought provoking. You may also enjoy this related post:

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/sandwiches-can-kill/

  2. Anna Migeon
    May 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

    thanks for commenting, Lisa! I think treating kids like consumers we’re trying to sell to is a big part of it. The schools are trying to push their food because they make money, so they offer what sells. Parents are more afraid the kids will be hungry than that they’ll eat harmful junk. Better to be hungry, because hunger leads to wanting to eat what is good for them if that’s all there is to choose from. Pushing leads to repulsion and restricting leads to desire.

  3. Lisa Melton Cadora
    May 7, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Who knew that this would be such a profound and radical insight? I think it comes from our own (adult) consumerist values of immediate gratification and zero tolerance for any kind of conflict or discomfort. We are shaped to find waiting or go without unbearable, and one of the things we can’t bear is their (children) whining when they have to wait or go without, so we give in. The availability of so much, obtainable with so little time, effort or money, in combination with the forces that fix our gazes upon it, has created a case of mass arrested development.

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