Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Posted by Andrea Meyers
My favorite food is avocado, and I'll eat it just about any way you want to prepare it, whether it's sliced on top of a sandwich or salad, chopped into a bowl of ajiaco or tortilla soup, mashed into guacamole with cilantro and lime, frozen into ice cream, or pureed into a shake. On the other hand, I really intensely dislike liver and choose not to prepare it in any way. Just like everyone, I have preferences and enjoy certain flavors more than others.
I've paid more attention to food preferences since we started having children, and I'm learning that our likes and dislikes don't always mesh, even though the boys came from my body. Some I understand, like the liver thing, and others completely mystify me. For example, our oldest son does not like chocolate cake, cookies, or candy (but he does like chocolate ice cream). I have to give him credit for at least tasting it each time, but after a bite he's done. He's a savory kind of guy, and not so big on sweets, which is not a bad thing. Our middle son doesn't like pizza, and he requests a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we make pizzas. He also has a big sweet tooth, which I have to watch out for. Our toddler won't touch carrots, cooked or raw, and his favorite color is green but he won't eat anything green. I'm still trying to sort that one out.
It's winter time here, and we eat lots of green beans and broccoli this time of year. I have been hooked on green beans since I was a young girl; they were a staple in my family, so preparing them is enjoyable for me. My boys are more skeptical and have never really taken to eating green beans, so I decided to try a different tactic: I only put one bean on each plate. My boys gave me a funny look.
"Mommy, you only gave me one bean!" exclaimed four-year-old said.
"I know. You may only have one bean until you eat everything else on your plate," I informed him.
He and his older brother laughed and they ate the bean right away. They asked for another, but I repeated they must eat everything else before the could have another bean. After finishing off the rest of their meal, they both asked for more. I put one more bean on each plate. Now they were giggling and said they wanted more.
"You need to eat that one first," I said. They promptly ate it and looked at me expectantly.
"Mommy, I want two beans," announced my six-year-old.
"Mommy, I want 10 beans!" countered his brother.
"Mommy, I want 100 beans!" You can see where this was going.
"No, I want (long pause) 1,000 beans!"
I gave them both a healthy scoop of beans, which they promptly devoured. Even their little brother got into the game and ate several beans that night.
I can't say I'm an expert on training kids to eat, but we try to promote healthy foods at our house. After many experiments, we've found a few things have helped get the boys more interested in foods they initially reject. We encourage them to help prepare food whenever possible because they are more interested in new foods if they help make them. And I recently started putting all of the food on the table at once rather than having some of it on a nearby counter or keeping warm in a pot on the stove. When the boys see what's available, they are more interested and try more things. And then there's always the trick of making it seem like a treat, as I did with the green beans.
Some of the selectiveness comes with age, and as my children get older they seem more receptive to new things. My six-year-old gradually went from needing to have all of his food separated on his plate and not touching each other to piling multiple fillings on a tortilla, and it gives me hope that my two younger children will grow accustomed to a variety of healthy foods.
This post was written by Andrea
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