Eating Un-favorite Foods

Dedicated to the moms who attended the “Citibabes Nutrition Lunch and Learn” with Laura Cipullo on Wednesday, April 19th
So the fish sticks are still a “stinking” issue at our house! As I have shared in previous blog posts—especially “Something More than Fish” and “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake”—on many days, food is something more than just food. And just like I tell my clients, particularly those attending meal support therapy sessions: “Meals are rarely perfect! What’s more, they don’t really need to be perfect, nor do they need to be the best meals you’ve ever eaten. What’s most important about meals is the nourishment and fuel they provide. Taste is certainly part of the experience, but it doesn’t have to be the entire experience.”

Meanwhile, during the past year, I have been thumbing through Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything. One of the messages I really like is found in chapter 6, “The Kohlrabi Experiment: Learning to Love New Foods.” The author shares her new “smart things to say” such as: “You don’t like it? That’s because you haven’t tasted it enough times yet. Maybe next time!” and “You don’t like it? That’s okay, you’ll like it when you are more grown up.”

So keeping all of the above in mind, I kept my cool when once again my youngest son Billy told me precisely how he felt about fish sticks. Here’s what happened. This past Saturday—after a busy afternoon of playing baseball and riding scooters—I served Billy his fish sticks and his older brother chicken with gnocchi (a newer food for Bobby). Well, Billy performed his usual song and dance routine about the fish sticks, clearly and repeatedly stating: “I don’t like fish sticks!” I reminded him that he has not tried the food enough times to really enjoy it. And besides that, meals are not always made up of our favorite foods. Instead, we need to eat certain foods that may taste just “okay” to us because they give our bodies protein and help to make us grow tall.

Well, as you might imagine, Billy cried and blatantly expressed his anger and frustration. And then, he quietly sat down at the table. He ate his un-favorite food with a smile: four fish sticks! I do think he threw half of one away when he ran to the bathroom with a fish stick in his hand. But here’s the significant take-away from this story: In addition to exposing our children to new foods on a regular basis, we moms must also put our own emotions and agendas aside and then assess our children. Are our own kids pushing the grocery cart or are we? If your kids are doing the pushing, try using the “Eating Your Un-Favorite Foods” approach and see what happens.

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