*Okay, that’s an exaggeration. They’re 10 right now and have only been “picky” for about eight years. But I thought the title was catchier with the truth inflated a little bit, and honestly, it feels like it’s been a full decade.
I’m no expert in nutrition or child psychology, although I like to think my basic knowledge is helpful in child-rearing. Basically, no one stopped me from having kids because I didn’t know enough about either subject. I hear about kids being picky eaters about 90% more than I hear about them loving every single food they taste.
We’re the proud, perma-exhausted parents of two kids who were born two minutes apart and whose palates greatly differ. I often think how one complete meal is enough for them to split based on the food they leave on their plates on the regular.
One LOVES fruit and likes vegetables a decent amount. He used to eat anything we’d give him. One will not eat raw fruit and only claims to like three (cooked) vegetables, although he makes a yuck face every time he eats two of those. In the early days, we had to give him pureed fruit and vegetables mixed together. Even as a baby, he refused to eat plain vegetables. This is called foreshadowing. He also liked eggs as a toddler, but his brother never did. Now neither of them will eat eggs, which always makes the egg-enthusiast in me a little sad. And they’re officially suspicious of peas.
I think that the impressive variety available to us today enables these miniature people to be as choosy as possible. In modern times, the world of food is our oyster (except, ew, I don’t eat those), and the kids are used to it. They know if they don’t like what we’re having for dinner, there are 99 other kinds of food in the kitchen for a next meal.
It’s a good thing that they’re not eating everything we give them based on the fear that they don’t know where their next meal will come from! Talk about first-world problems, right? We try not to be short-order cooks, but we want them to like at least some of the food we serve. When their pickiness starts to get under my skin, I try to harken back to my days as a youngling and recall my particular pickiness.
With a few exceptions, I love vegetables. As a youth, I would painstakingly remove onions and peppers from anything I was served. Now I cook with them willingly. Eggplant sounded crazy and gross. Zucchini was a waste of my time unless it was pulverized and enveloped in chocolate cake. Beets? Are you kidding me?
I used to love mashed potatoes, probably only because they were better than my typical non-option of a baked potato. Tater tots? Never an option. French fries? What even are those? Our kids are of the firm opinion that potatoes are only edible when they’ve been totted or fried as such.
My great food-disappearing act when I was a kid was to dilly-dally and be the last at the dinner island (not table, because we usually ate in the kitchen). When everyone else had left the room, I would gleefully shove my uneaten broccoli down the garbage disposal.
I got away with this not because I think my parents were oblivious, per se, but because I was usually on dish-washing duty. Any noises emanating from the kitchen would be construed as cleaning up. So sorry, Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this and just now finding out I ingeniously wasted all that broccoli.
I distinctly remember the first time I tried Indian food, and I was very unaccepting. I was probably downright rude about it. I ate some plain, white rice and some
Indian bread-cracker-things papadums and called it a day. Now, I happen to love Indian food and have a couple of favorite nearby restaurants. I’m sorry to our Indian-American family friend who probably spent a lot of precious time making us that authentic Indian meal only for my teenage snobbery to flaunt itself. I really shouldn’t be surprised that our kids are not big fans of chicken tikka masala and samosas with chutney (yet).
If your kids are anything like ours, please try not to beat yourself up when they reject the food you want them to eat. We have more than enough stressors in our life. This doesn’t have to be one. Maybe as adults, they’ll like some of the foods they’d rather throw away now. Maybe not. I still haven’t changed my mind about a lot of stuff, mainly seafood.
Apparently our kids are consuming enough nutrients to keep growing into fully formed human adults. At every annual wellness check, the doctor shows us the hard evidence of their positive growth. So, they’re going to be okay.