Okay, it’s another one of those times when I have found something that speaks to me and that I feel passionate about, so I am going to jump up on my soapbox and let fly…
We need to care more about what our children eat. And understand that how we raise them to eat will teach them how to eat. A child that is a picky eater has become that way because of how their parents shaped their eating. A child might turn away from something new, but if you never press them to try it, they never will…and then they will always turn away from it. I have learned this with my children, but luckily in the opposite direction. When raising my son, we would offer a new food to him, and he would say it was yucky and that he didn’t want it. We would ask him to try it, but he didn’t want to. If we had just left it at that, he never would have tried it, and it would have been harder the next time…and the next. But we stuck with it. He didn’t want to try zucchini, so I made it look like drippy tentacles, like Davy Jones has. Yes, I know, not the most appealing image, but for a small boy who was in love with Davy Jones, it worked. He tried it, and opened his eyes wide and said “I LOVE these tentacles!”, and proceeded to eat a handful more of them. And have stuck with this. He ALWAYS tries new food, no matter how much he says he won’t like it. If after one good bite he doesn’t like it, then we let it go and let him move on. But he does NOT get to leave without trying it, and we make sure he tries it before it gets cold (and thereby less tasty). And about 90% of what he has tried like that he realizes he loves. And those he does not…well, we make sure to have him try it again about once a month, to see if he still doesn’t like whatever it is. And you know what, a few of them he has come to like as well, as his tastes changed. He used to hate pasta and cheese (mac-n-cheese is the invention of the devil to him), but now he will eat pasta with sauce, and he will eat cheese on pizza and as a cheese stick, and sometimes grilled cheese sandwiches. Still won’t eat mac-n-cheese, but I am not sure that’s a bad thing. And for a while he didn’t like garlic, which is normal for a young child’s tastebuds…but just recently, he has fallen in love with garlic bread.
I have often wanted to mention our success to friends with children that have become picky eaters, but it’s hard to do that without pointing out that it’s mostly the fault of the parents. And it’s also harder to get the children to start trying things once they are in a habit of turning things down. But just today I came across THIS article, and that spurred me to want to share the info and my success more, and to write this blog (that no one probably reads):
The article explains that French children have much better diets and are far less picky, as a result of how their parents raise them to eat, and how schools in France are contributing to better nutrition for children. There are a number of articles linked to from this one, that give further information that is helpful for raising non-picky eaters. But one that I find very interesting is the blog of a woman that is following the daily lunch menus of various Kindergarten classes in France. THIS entry in particular caught my interest, because of her comments.
As she says, how many of OUR (meaning American) Kindergarteners would have even tried the foods mentioned in this menu? And think about the fact that no junk foods are offered, and that parents don’t pack lunches for their children (except in the case of food allergies). I feel my husband and I are doing a mostly good job of making sure our kids are picky, but we aren’t even coming close to offering as much variety, and we definitely fall into the realm of feeding them commercialized food. This entry, and the others, make me a little ashamed at what we feed our children.
Here is another blog entry where she mentions a book that goes into detail about what school children eat around the world. I actually think I want to get this for myself and take a look at it, and see if I can help our family eat better than the standard American diet.
I know, this is a lot of links, but really, the articles/blog entries explain the truths better than I could, and so really I can only provide my opinions and insight on top of the well-worded thoughts provided in the links. I am hoping that all those reading this would also take inspiration from these links, and consider what they are eating and what they are feeding their children. It’s never too late to change one’s diet, regardless of how picky one (or a child) is.