Picky Eaters

At a recent Thrive! Dinner we had paninis.  To accommodate vegetarians, I purchased an avocado hummus that I thought would be nice with red peppers, carrots, spinach and cheese.  While I have eaten garlic and roasted red pepper hummus, avocado was new to me so, I decided to give it a try with a carrot. 

The puzzled look on my face (the taste was not what I was expecting), led to a conversation that included inviting others to give it a try.  Initially there weren’t a lot of fans.  I followed up by making a panini.  The taste grew on me and another participant was really enjoying it as a dip.  In the end, it was an interesting experiment.

Food fights!

One of the challenges of parenting is getting our kids to try new things.  Picky eaters can be the norm for a considerable part of childhood and even beyond.  Sometimes the struggle is compounded by food allergies or anxiety making mealtimes a constant battle.

Tricks we tried

Over the years, we tried to get our picky eater to try new things.  For a while we used Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook “Deceptively Delicious” which had me making purees, freezing these in ice cube trays and then adding them to a variety of dishes.  Our kid knew that I would do this, but the rule was that I wouldn’t reveal what was in the food until at least half of the serving was eaten.

Recognising that kids can be turned off at the sight of something new and different, for a time we played: “name that food”.  I would make dinner without telling my family what I was making.  Then I would blindfold them at the table and give them bites of food.  They then had to guess what I made.  This was done with the assurance that there would only be one potentially new food on the plate so as not to overwhelm the picky eater.  Interestingly, this is when I introduced long grain and wild rice.  To this day I believe that my kid would have picked out the wild rice because it is dark in colour but because it was first tried while blindfolded it remains on the menu to this day.

Peer Pressure

As our picky eater moved into the later teen years, we have encouraged hosting dinner parties and going to meals with friends.  Engaging with others has helped to introduce our teen to some new foods.  Of course, this process comes with its challenges too.  Giving teenagers free reign to make their own dinner had them ambitiously trying to make pasta from scratch which ended up being a horrible failure.  In the end, the group opted to order pizza which we still considered a ‘win’ in developing independence.

What is important?

In the end, we know there are those who will go through life and continue to be picky eaters.  I know seniors for whom restaurant choices are a challenge.  Perhaps the most important thing is that whoever we are and whatever our preferences might be, our body gets what it needs to survive and thrive.

Do you agree?

Are you a picky eater?  Do you know a picky eater?  What tricks have you experienced to encourage picky eaters to try something new?  What does it take for you to try something new?  We would love to hear from you!

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/