“Raising a good eater takes years. Children learn bite by bite, food by food, meal by meal.”Ellyn Satter, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family
The best thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent is to lower my expectations. I have a 5 year old and I can’t expect her to manage her emotions and think logically like a grown up. When it comes to food, why would I expect her to want to eat all of the foods that took me years to learn to enjoy?
I remember growing up I ate everything PLAIN. I would always order a plain sandwich or a plain cheese pizza, everything was plain. Now a days, I’m a much more adventurous eater and I recently ate and LOVED a ratatouille that had zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and onions.
It’s perfectly normal behavior for kids to be a little scared of new foods, new textures or foods that are touching or mixed up with other foods. Think of foods that you are still learning to enjoy. I’m still working on mushrooms and oysters. The lesson in this is to set realistic expectations for your kids and realize that they have their entire childhoods to learn to eat like we do and enjoy the foods that we enjoy.
This does not mean you have to cater to your kids and only make them the same foods over and over again and assume they will never try anything new. It does mean that when you are planning meals that you can be considerate of their concerns about trying new foods and offer something you know they will love along with some new foods. One day they will try those new foods, I promise! It will definitely be a lot later that you expect though so hang tight and don’t push new foods on them and just let them explore and learn on their own time. It can take 20+ NEUTRAL exposures to a food before a child will eat it. I’ll talk more about NEUTRAL exposures in the next blog post!