Dealing with picky eaters
When my kids were little, they were great eaters. Alfs used to love spinach and mushroom quesadillas and Woody was once known to down three-quarters of a pound of tofu in a single sitting. Yes, I said "tofu." And Sunshine? She used to drink butternut squash soup with glee. Somewhere along the line, however, each of them lost their adventurous eating, the younger ones quicker than the oldest. What the heck happened?
Honestly, I don't know. I hear theories about this kind of situation - about there being some part of development when certain things really do taste bad to kids. I also hear there are kids for whom this never happens. If you have one of those kids, consider yourself very, very lucky.
But I am here to tell you that finally, after years and years of me alternately trying and not trying to continue to offer a variety of foods to my kids, the issue is easing up, at least for Alfs. Last week, Alfs ate artichoke risotto without complaint. And at the holidays he declared the veggies in our traditional lamb stew "good." You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Initial successBefore I had kids (you know, back when I was a perfect parent), I was sure my kids would like all these wonderful foods that I do. My kids wouldn't be picky. My kids would eat all their veggies. I was sure I had all the answers.
And initially, each of the kids did like a variety of foods as we introduced them. I was quite proud of each of their repertoires. I received compliments, even, and initially I was quite smug. But by the time Sunshine was eating so well, Alfs already had stopped eating as adventurously, and Woody was well on his way in the same direction. Sunshine's wasn't that far behind with her desire to imitate her brothers.
The "Euw!" yearsBefore I knew it, the kids were refusing many, many foods that they had eaten before. Eventually, I fell into a less than optimal cycle of making very boring foods just for them and a separate meal for myself and my husband later.
One night, while washing dishes for the second time that night, I decided to just stop doing that. I'd make one meal and one meal only, and a healthy one at that.
The meals - nothing too esoteric, mind you - were met with a chorus of, "Euw!" and, "How much do I have to eat?" I talked to the kids about the ingredients, the recipes, and reassured them that I would never make something that I am sure they would not like, that I would not make them eat something I would not eat myself, and that I'm pretty confident they really would like the meals if they would give them a real chance. That went over like a lead balloon.
It was disheartening, to say the least, and tough to stick to my one healthy meal plan. My older friends with grown-up kids did their best to reassure me. Really, it will change, they said. They even promised.
A glimmer of hopeAnd now, I am here to say my friends were right. The kids tastebuds are - slowly, slowly - waking up to these foods. Alfs likes peppers and salads and a few other bits. Woody likes broccoli and cauliflower. Sunshine likes tomatoes and asparagus - sometimes, anyway. I'm not saying they will like everything in the end, but there is progress. The persistence really does pay off.
I do still have to be careful, however, about mentioning this to or in front of the kids. I suspect they would feel embarrassed if I did, and I don't want to give them any reason to backslide. But the glimmer of hope is there, and it may even be a light at the end of the tunnel!