Monday, November 10, 2008

Kids and food

El on Fast grow the weeds posted today on picky eaters.  It made me think about how we approach food with our children.  They really don't do too bad.  J14 will eat just about anything and everything.  She was hesitant about lima beans for quite a while but she has (pretty much) gotten over that.  She likes brussel sprouts and spinach,  all those things that kids aren't supposed to like.  She is really a fan of hot spicy foods.  Think eggs scrambled with tabasco, chipotle and Louisiana hot sauce!!
I11 is another story.  He has food 'issues'.  He LOVES mashed potatoes and really, potatoes in any form. He is getting better and more adventurous, especially since he wants to be a chef when he grows up and I told him he needs to be willing to try new things if he is a chef.  He has some issues with textures.  He won't eat bread with 'stuff' in it such as nuts, seeds and wheat berries.  He eats whole wheat since that's about the only kind I have in the house but I'll admit, I spoil him by buying a separate loaf of bread for him so he will eat it. He has recently started eating tomato sauce with chunks of tomato in it but still doesn't really like fresh tomatoes but then, more for me!!!
K8 does well.  He HATES potatoes, especially mashed ones, and has since he was a baby.  You know, mashed potatoes are often the first food 'off the table' that is fed (at least at our house).  He spat it out the first time he had it and hasn't liked it since.  He barely even tolerates french fries.  I have stopped trying to fight this one.  If we are having potatoes for dinner, he has the option of having bread and butter instead.  The one thing we're still fighting with him about is tomato sauce.  He doesn't like tomatoes either.  He will eat pizza with red sauce and ketchup but fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce he doesn't want. He would rather eat his spaghetti as plain noodles.    He did eat the lasagna I made last night so I guess we're making progress.  He does LOVE cucumbers and started eating the stuffed chili peppers I make in the late summer.
All the kids like broccoli and carrots and corn.  Getting them to eat their veggies has never been that much of an issue.  The boys each have their dislikes and I'm always tempted to not make that much of a fuss about it.  They aren't starving and they always have to try something new (at least 2 bites) before they can decide they don't like it.  They're much better than some of their friends who have been over:  I remember a friend of J14's several years ago who was over to play.  I made them sandwiches for lunch. She pronounced the cheese 'nasty'.  It seems the only cheese she had ever eaten was processed cheese singles.  Now that doesn't even count as food in my book.  My kids all grew up with 'real' cheese and love it.  They really don't even get that much junk food (unless you count rice cakes and tortilla chips).  We occasionally have soda in the house but it is a treat, not a staple.  They drink milk, juice or water.  
I really don't think we've done too bad....


  1. This is a big issue for us.

    DD15 will eat (and cook) almost anything. She regularly makes and eats her own stir-fry, curry, grits-n-gravy, quesadillas, all sorts of stuff. Picks food out of the garden and cooks it. She, DH, and I cook and eat together regularly. We bake bread, make yogurt, can and pickle things.

    Then there is DD12. Up until around 4 years old, she ate widely. Then she started eliminating entire food groups. We tried to figure out why. Years later, even she seems to have no idea why. And the food that is left is mostly the worst of it, if we let her - hot dogs, chicken nuggets, canned chicken noodle soup and spaghetti-o's. She likes cereal and milk, and I won't buy the sugary kind. She'll eat eggs, pizza, PB&J. But only the right kind of strawberry jelly or pizza. Only one kind of strawberry yogurt. She will eat a plain McD's hamburger and french fries. She will eat a lot of fruits, and a very few vegetables - carrots, for instance. Nothing can have sauce or seasoning on it. Nothing can touch anything else. If there is nothing in her narrow food range available, she will go hungry or est just bread (only white or Italian). I have seen it in restaurants and at potlucks over and over.

    She helps in the garden. She basically cooks all of her own meals herself - I won't cook two separate meals. She will occasionally cook for all of us, but it will be hot dogs or tortilla pizzas.

    I've made some improvements by finding organic, nitrate-free, pastured beef hot dogs - and she likes them. I limit the number of cans per week she can open. I buy a lot of fruit. She makes her own tortilla pizzas.

    I've bought her food machines that somewhat expanded her repertoire - an ice cream maker, a waffle maker. She used to eat a lot of frozen waffles, until I discovered she will eat ANY waffle homemade. I can make her whole wheat or spelt waffles and get some whole grains into her. I make batches and freeze them.

    People have always told us she will grow out of it. But she hasn't. I really worry about her ability to survive in circumstances where she cannot get the narrow range of prepared foods she will eat. I've added her food to our food storage plan, but I feel like I am "enabling" her. On the other hand, I was forced to eat various foods as a child, and there are certain foods that make me feel nauseous to this day. I have few childhood food memories that don't involve coerced eating. So - I fear that trying to make her eat more broadly will just make her food issues worse.

    I worry about kids like her, in a world that is very likely like to have fewer food choices for all of us.

  2. PS: She has talked about feeling left out of the food discovery the rest of us engage in - we all collect and develop recipes and learn new cooking skills. And having heard all of us talking about food and the uncertain future, I think SHE is also worried about the future, but seems trapped in her dislikes.

  3. Wow. After hearing that I feel fortunate about what my children eat or don't. I agree that forcing children to eat things isnt' the way to go although I do always insist that they at least try something. I had bad experiences as a child as well although now there are very few things I don't like- hot dogs, bologna and malted milk balls- and I can manage to go without those foods. I can force myself to eat a hot dog if I need to- I won't throw a fit if we're at someone elses house and that is what is served. I actually have used that as an example for the kids that sometimes, in order to be polite, you just shut up and eat it. K8's dislike of potatoes is kind of like that. He can 'make' himself eat a very small portion and he at least keeps trying them but since he hasn't liked them EVER, I don't think things will necessarily change, I11 is working on becoming more adventurous but I do think some of his food issues are more related to developmental/ sensory stuff. He has had issues in the past with tags in clothes and certain fabric textures as well. He has a speech impairment and ADHD. But he's a sweet kid and is trying.


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