My son likes salad cream -- alot. He tends to use loads of it and I'm concerned that he's not actually tasting anything new. It's not allowed on every meal, but when it's out it's all over everything (and frankly I find it quite disgusting, but that's beside the point and my problem).

I want him to start eating properly and getting used to tastes that he needs to actually have a healthy diet. However how to parent a child with food is something I'm not particularly good with. How do I stem the flow and help him understand that he needs to actually start eating food without covering it in huge amounts of this stuff, because I don't particularly like mealtimes being a battle. I want to do this with him as opposed to just banning stuff, helping him understand.

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    I am in my 30s and I still do this. My children refuse to put sauce on anything.
    – user9611
    Dec 23, 2014 at 23:50
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    At risk of sounding contrary, why not just let him do it? If he enjoys the flavour, just go with it.
    – Rory Alsop
    Dec 24, 2014 at 12:57
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    @RoryAlsop - because it can be harmful, both at the moment, and even more so as acquired habit in the future. Many sauces aren't very healthy for you (high sodium content, if nothing else). Some others are simply poor nutrition with tons of calories (Ranch, I'm looking at you!)
    – user3143
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:10
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    @RoryAlsop - another reason was alluded to by the OP. As my father taught me, "If you need condiments on your meat, it was a poor quality meat. And if you have good quality meat, don't ruin the natural flavor with condiments!"
    – user3143
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:11
  • @Snowman, I would probably post your comment as a question - I'm struggling with the same problem as yourself.
    – user3143
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:12

9 Answers 9


Give him a sensibly-sized splodge on the side of his plate and then put the bottle back in the cupboard and don't get it out again that mealtime.

  • 3
    This, or serve courses. The salad dressing disappears along with the empty salad bowls. That way No, I wanna do it doesn't end up all over dinner.
    – Mazura
    Dec 23, 2014 at 22:59
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    We have this problem with Ketchup & Maple Syrup and this is exactly what we do. Dec 24, 2014 at 9:36
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    Or sauce it in the kitchen so it arrives at the table the way you want it eaten. You can do the same with salt if your kids are developing the unhealthy habit of salting everything.
    – Marc
    Dec 24, 2014 at 16:47
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    @psubsee2003 Ketchup and Maple Syrup? Please tell me not at the same time. I moved to Canada three years ago, and honestly THIS HAPPENS and is incredibly disgusting!
    – corsiKa
    Dec 24, 2014 at 17:00
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    This. Why would you give a six year old the whole bottle then be surprised at what he does with it? Hehe. Dec 25, 2014 at 12:12

Don't buy salad cream anymore.

  • 1
    Great answer! However I do want to do it hand in hand with him as opposed to arbitrarily taking it away. (also my wife loves it so it has to be in the house). Dec 23, 2014 at 14:55
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    What about buying flavors he cares for less? In the US, Ranch dressing is kryptonite for kids because its so tasty and its the MOST fattening dressing of them all. So instead of buying Ranch (or cream based dressings) buy Italian, or switch to balsamic vinegar. Vinegar is VERY healthy.
    – user7678
    Dec 23, 2014 at 15:40
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    Run out of the cream and fail to replenish it quickly. The store might be out of it etc....
    – boatcoder
    Dec 23, 2014 at 23:20
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    Removing access to a "bad food" is likely to backfire when the child visits a friend's or relative's house, goes to a restaurant, moves out to his own home -- and then has unlimited access to the "forbidden therefore delicious" item. Strict parental control is less effective than teaching a sensible approach to portioning and self-control.
    – Acire
    Dec 28, 2014 at 15:17

At 6 yrs old he is definitely old enough to start understand the basics of healthy eating. Smothering sauce on things isn't healthy (as you do seem concerned about). So sit down and talk to him. Tell him that sauce is an extra and isn't healthy in large quantities. Tell him there is a time an a place for things and that he needs to learn when certain sauces are warranted. Some terms to try is that sauce is a "sometimes food", if he watches sesame street he will already have a little of this concept as they are using it with cookie monster now. Then start treating sauces like a treat. It's a reward for trying new foods or eating a certain food that he may not care for. Make certain he doesn't have an unlimited quantity, but the recommended serving.

  • My kids got introduced to the idea of "condiment" at ~3-4 YO and had no issue understanding that. +1
    – user3143
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:14

Buy salad cream in sachets, not in a bottle. 1 sachet per meal.

  • 3
    A bottle is much more environmentally friendly and the same effect can be achieved by the parent giving the child an appropriate amount of salad cream, rather than just handing over the bottle and letting him take as much as he wants. Dec 24, 2014 at 10:31
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    @DavidRicherby - this is Parenting SE, not Environmentalist SE. Some of us value teaching kids independence, among other things. It's a perfectly valid answer, so no reason to downvote it.
    – user3143
    Dec 24, 2014 at 13:15
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    @user3143 Way to go with jumping to invalid conclusions. I don't even have enough rep to downvote! Dec 24, 2014 at 13:37
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    Being an environmentalist is pretty much the same thing as being a parent. Both are the same practice of learning how to live with each other with love and care and consideration for all the ramifications of our actions. Using parenting as an excuse to do harm to the environment betrays both your kids and the environment.
    – Tony Adams
    Dec 24, 2014 at 15:14
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    @Tony: As does using the environment as an excuse to do harm to your kids.
    – user11971
    Dec 27, 2014 at 8:26

Why not search for sauces or garnishes that don't carry the health risks, figure out which ones he likes, and use more of those?

For example, you could try:

  • Fresh-squeezed citrus (lime, lemon, or orange)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salsa (many varieties are rather healthy)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Ground no-salt spices (such as parsley or basil)
  • Mustard

Tell him the facts, plain and simple: some things you put into your body are good for you, and others aren't. The stuff that isn't good for you needs be taken in moderation.

Teach him to read nutrition labels. Have him look at ingredient lists, and tell him which numbers he needs to keep low (fat, sodium, calories, etc.). Then, show him the numbers on the salad cream he's been drenching his food with. Hopefully, he'll want to either take it easy on the cream, or else find some healthier alternatives.

This straightforward, fact-based approach could not just solve the short-term problem, but also teach a life skill that will serve him well as he progresses into adolescence and adulthood.


Perhaps the issue is not salad cream but more exactly :

because I don't particularly like mealtimes being a battle.

(quoting your original post) I have seen children fighting back against parental control by picking a battle that Mom or Dad doesn't want to commit to. You want what's best for your child, so you try to limit some bad food. BUT you don't want to make meals miserable tests of will. You order them to do something and then you don't carry through on your order. Junior pushes through your disapproval, and wins the fight. Being a child they do not have a sense of scale on real importance. If this more accurately describes the situation, then I'd suggest evaluating the importance of this issue. If it is not really important, ignore it. If you really believe that this is important then you must commit to the battle. Leave the bottle on the table, set your limits and establish clear consequences for failing to follow your rules. And you must be honest with your child. Don't threaten catastrophic punishment, but something you can follow through with. If you do choose to commit to this battle of wills, I'd suggest that immediately after seeing an ocean of sauce, you get up, move your child to a time out corner, make them sit there for 6 minutes, and then apologize to you for using too much sauce. They must lose the sauce and the food they covered it with. You may have to substitute some alternative food. And good luck. These battles about eating can be really tough.

  • First person I've seen get right down to the nitty gritty reality of the situation. ++
    – RubberDuck
    Dec 26, 2014 at 19:48
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    As an adult whose relationship with his mother was left in tatters largely over childhood arguments about food, I strongly suggest caution here. Dinnertime was a daily exercise in miserable argument for years, and I endured increasingly extreme punishments as she tried to "break me" on the point of eating certain dishes that I refused to eat (more to the point, dishes I could not keep down no matter how badly I wanted to avoid the punishment).
    – Kevin
    Dec 27, 2014 at 16:15
  • Sounds like the suggested strategy would make mealtime more of a battle, not less.
    – Acire
    Dec 28, 2014 at 15:14

I get what you're trying to do, but I think it's okay for him, it's not unhealthy, as long as he doesn't use up the bottle within a day, it should be alright. And it's normal for kids not trying new foods, they'll get to try them and gain more interest in different foods when they're older.

  • It would be interesting to see support for this answer. Dec 24, 2014 at 2:02
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    If it's something like ranch dressing, even a bottle a week is unhealthy... looking at a bottle of "light" ranch dressing in my fridge, a bottle is 1280 calories of which 960 calories are from fat. I think this is as much about encouraging healthy eating habits as it is about discouraging something that some may perceive of as "gross".
    – Doktor J
    Dec 24, 2014 at 17:37

I work in a secondary school and it is surprising how obvious it is that parents have 'given in' to the preferences of the child. I have had parents evening appointments where the student has told the mother off for expressing disapproval at a negative report. I know working with a child's preferences with food is really difficult - I have 4 children and they are all different, but you are in charge of what they are doing. I hear what you are saying about how they love it, but I think you need to set the amount they have and stick with it.

  • A lot of this feels like it isn't relevant to the OP's actual question and just general complaining about "parents these days"... Can you provide some more direct advice about how to set limits?
    – Acire
    Dec 28, 2014 at 15:12

First thing in my humble opinion is that you said yourself that it is not allowed all the time, this a good start as you already have boundaries for that.

Second thing is to ask if there is a relay health risk that can be caused from the cream. if he is a not a healthy boy then my answer is not relevant.

Our "rule" in many cases with food, and other things, is that as long as things are set with boundaries which determines when it is allowed and when it is not, it is OK to eat "not so healthy" things (We say that they are healthy for the soul :)) or "misbehave". The boundaries give you the option to release a little bit because your kid knows that what you he is doing is allowed only because this is a special time or event.

As long as the way he does it is not to messy and it is in the boundaries of reason, then I would not go for a war for that.

The question is, if this is the case, why are you worried so much ? if in other meals he eats healthy food then he will learn the taste of good food and get his health needs.

Hope it helps

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