Super Foodies

Vicky a cook and Isabel an illustrator are two mothers who created the “Super Foodies” a comic booklet to make kids eat more veggies. This is the first comic of a series that will involve the Superfoodies, superheroes that get their powers from veggies. In the first story, the 3 mini chefs will prepare some delicious and healthy Spinach pancakes. When you buy the comic, you get the story and the recipe.

My family are a big fan of spinach and pancakes so I was instantly intrigued and wanted to check it out. The comic is short but sweet but as a time-pressed parent that is fine with me and I’ve always been an advocate of cooking with kids.

During the lockdown, they said “we became a bit desperate when we noticed that we tried to cook healthy meals, our kids were not very keen on eating some veggies. As members of many Facebook mum groups, we soon realised we were not the only ones. Thousands of mums were posting about the same issue: How can I get my kid to eat more veggies?”

Then inspiration hit

“We realised that telling stories was super useful in solving other issues when for example we had troubles doing potty training. So we created a story about 3 little chefs who become heroes when they ate the veggies they cooked.”

Does this work?

Reading to your children has always been a proven way to solve problems. When you read to children you provide them with a deeper understanding of their world and fill their brains with background knowledge. They then use this acquired background knowledge to make sense of what they see, hear, and read, which aids their cognitive development. Reading a comic about superheroes acquiring their power from veggies can help make them want to eat the veggies because they will think veggies will make them stronger and with more superpowers.

The comic takes the stress out of a situation that highly frustrates you. A positive environment during mealtime is the key for kids to enjoy food. It is proven that the more stressful mealtimes are, the more your kids will refuse to eat whatever you want them to eat.

It gives back to the kid the power to decide so they are more willing to try new food. The “Division of Responsibility in feeding” is a well known successful theory in tackling picky eaters behaviours. According to this theory, parents decide when and what to serve, but kids choose how much they eat and whether to eat.

In Theory

There is a well-known theory, called the IKEA effect. The idea of the IKEA effect is based on the Swedish manufacturer IKEA and proposes that people value more when things are self-crafted, because of the efforts put into these self-crafted objects. I have been reading a study, “Cooking together: The IKEA effect on family vegetable intake”, which was carried out in Poland and drew the conclusion that there is an IKEA effect in children that cook their meals with their parents. After the children involved in the study, took part in the food preparation, it was observed that their liking of vegetables and vegetable intake increased.

What is not helpful at mealtimes?

Being super stressed out about what kids are eating or (most of the time) not eating, because they will perceive your anxiety and this will make them stressed and more prone to protest on whatever you are serving.

Not sitting down and having a family meal together. Set the example and they will certainly be more willing to eat. Sit down as a family and model their behaviour in a positive way. If you want your kids to learn something new, then you have to model it.

Avoid using desserts as a reward but instead, serve the dessert at the same time as the other meals. Giving desserts as a reward will create many problems in the future. It leads to children overeating foods that are high in sugar, fat, and empty calories and to eat when they are not hungry.

Don't force-feed them or force them to eat one more spoon. This behaviour makes them unlearn to listen to their bodies.

I’d recommend taking the above tips as a guide but always do what works for you. And children are unpredictable so take it easy on yourselves and take it day by day.

The book is currently only available online. For £9.00