Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why Won't They Just EAT IT Already??

I always think I have made peace with the fact that children -- and more to the point, MY children -- are picky freaks about food. They are just not going to eat the things I want them to eat, and certainly not WHEN I want them to eat them.

And yet, eight years into this business, I am still completely annoyed and offended to open up a lunchbox in the evening and find -- oh right, that again: most of my son's lunch, looking just as lovingly packed and arranged as it did when I zipped the box shut in the morning.

My four-year-old daughter tends to eat her entire lunch, and yet still shrieks at the injustice of a piece of lettuce on her plate, or a basil leaf on her pizza. I can only imagine the horror.

It's an irritating conundrum, this pickiness thing, made even more irritating by the complete inanity of the kids' aversions. In my house: carrots, guacamole, extra sharp cheddar cheese, toasted whole grain bread: okay. Celery, diced avocados, meunster cheese, untoasted whole grain bread: not okay. Can't they at least make an appearance of logic in their choices?

But at least now it's been confirmed: it's not our fault. According to an article by Kim Severson in the New York Times today, picky eating is about 78% genetically related, and 22% environmental. Phew. The author of this study about picky eaters, led by Dr. Lucy Cooke at University College London, says we're basically genetically coded to become extremely food-avoidant around the time we become mobile. As the doctor puts it, "If we just went running out of the cave as little cave babies and stuck anything in our mouths, that would have been potentially very dangerous."

The solution? The experts in the article suggest:
- Family-style meals
- No separate foods for children
- Preparing foods the parents like, with new foods served next to at least 2 things the child likes
- "If you make a stew, separate components into separate dishes"
- Don't use rewards, bribes, punishments or nags.

Hmm, sounds familiar. My sentiments exactly.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

My mom used simple desserts---chocolate pudding, ice cream---to get us to finish our salads, and it worked perfectly because we couldn't live without dessert, thanks to our sweet tooths inherited from Grandma. To this day we all have this little voice inside us telling us we have to eat our salads before we get a cookie.

Love your blog. Especially the recipes.