Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Children and Food

I have three remarkably good eaters. They love all sorts of food. I am very proud of them and it is fun to take them out or to cook with them. However this did not come so easily. I am always disgusted when I go to restaurants and children's menus consist of chicken fingers and fries, cheese pizzas and ice cream. Where is the green stuff, I ask. Children do not like green stuff. Well, that is not true. My girls love the green stuff. My girls love olives and broccoli. My girls know what lentils are. Sushi, salmon, scallops, curry and spanakopita!! Quinoa burgers, lox on bagels and Calamari! Adults assume that children only eat chicken fingers. ugh.

Many years ago, I worked at a coffee shop. I remember this one customer. A grandmother taking her 5-yr-old grand daughter out for ice cream. The grandma said "which kind would you like?" The little girl hesitated. So many kinds to choose from! They asked me what was good. I told them if you like something fruity, try the raspberry sorbet. It's so good. I offered a sample. The little girl seemed interested. The grandmother turned up her nose and said "you wouldn't like it, dear. It isn't ice cream". and went on to order black cherry ice cream. The little girl didn't even get to choose!!

I realized it's so easy to do that though. Not just about the food, but all aspects of my interaction with my children. I must be careful to let them feel the freedom to choose, not making them feel like they need my approval.

Here are a couple of things I have enforced regarding food and my children. First, they are not allowed to say 'yuck'. They may tell me they didn't like something, but never 'yuck'. I find that to be very disrespectful to the person who cooked the food. They must try everything that have been offered. I encourage them not to write off any food they didn't like. I keep offering it to them and my kids have grown to love some food they didn't like when they were smaller. For example, Maya did not like avocados as a baby. Now she can't get enough. She has also recently learn to love hummus, but she is still working on rice crackers. She would say once in a while that she would like to try a little to see if her taste has changed. Bless her heart. I do not cater to them when I cook. What they see is what's for dinner. Also, I am always looking for ways to make our meals healthier and more economical. For instance, we stopped putting meat on our homemade pizzas. I made them vegetarian one day and asked them if they had missed the meat. Unanimous "No". Now, we only make vegetarian pizzas, and do you know what we put on our pizzas? Roasted garlic, spinach, red peppers, greek olives, mushrooms, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and basil (In summer) and mozzarella cheese on homemade whole wheat crust. Go figure.

It's fun to share different food experiences with my children. We especially enjoy Ethnic food. We also have many dear friends who are vegetarians or have some dietary restrictions. We love sharing food with our friends. I am glad to say I don't have to wonder if there is going to be anything my kids can eat when we go out somewhere.

We all have different priorities and parenting styles. I am aware that this is not a huge priority in many families. It is something I felt was important for my family and chose to 'pick this battle'. For me it has been well worth it.


Bobbi said...

lol it's all about battles isn't it? I agree about the "yuck" I remember once saying that as a kid and my mother died a thousand embarrassed! I think it's fantastic to get kids eating anything! Dani will try anything once...if it's pretty weird, Stu might offer her $ to try it...LOL BLake ate EVERYTHING til he turned 3. Then he LITERALLY stopped was baffling. I know his dad was the same way. Someone told me about the book "the Highly sensitive child" and I got it finally. It's a odor, texture issue for Blake. He lost 10 lbs in kindergarten and had to eat in a different room because he threw up so much. I had to send him with a second set of clothes. Once in grade 1 he could eat in the same room, but it would impact how much he could eat...the kid beside him pulled out a thermos, FORGET IT. Go to someone's place for supper, even something Blake loves? FORGET IT. I have made a choice to die on that hill because I found out early on that you actually CAN'T force feed a child. lmao. No, I tried and 3 hours and both of us crying later, I let it go! I do only cook one meal and he eats stuff I usually don't such as wild meat...
Anyways, your scenario sounds dreamy and I think it's fantastic that you can go somewhere without a big "don't worry if he doesn't eat, he won't starve" speech every where you go, I envy you;)

Krista said... I think I need some support soon.

Di said...

I love that your children love to eat. I was the fussiest eater as a child - I'd eat carrots raw but not cooked, a salad was a plate of lettuce, a vegetable was a pea. I am surprised sometimes that I survived to adulthood - must have driven my poor mum mad. Now I'll eat most things - tried snail, deep fried burdock, all sorts of sushi and sashimi when I was in Japan. And I love the rice balls!

6512 and growing said...

I like your philosophies on children and food. No saying "yuck" in our house either.
My poor kids get served whatever weirdness my husband and I are eating (spaghetti squash lasagna, venison burgers, sushi, wild mushrooms). Their friends love to play at our house, but not always eat here. ;)