Today I've been thinking about food philosophies in families.
Growing up we were never forced to eat foods that we didn't like and most of us were fairly picky eaters. Corn was the only vegetable I ate for years. My brother, Cory ate butter sandwiches in his lunch every day for at least 4 years. My sister, Krista survived on chicken noodle soup and KD for what seemed like years. The list goes on.
My parents encouraged us to try foods that we thought we didn't like but never forced us. We were allowed to make our own "meals" (they were more like snacks) if we didn't like what was being served. We grew up with the attitude that what we ate was a matter of choice and it was fine to say we didn't want or like something that was being offered.
Going on exchange to Argentina after high school was the first time I was challenged to eat foods I didn't like. The first meal with my new host family was their favourite simple lunch, tomato and olive oil open faced sandwiches. Eww! I didn't want to be unappreciative of their hospitality so I gagged it down. Since it was a regular simple meal in their home, I got used to eating it and even began to enjoy tomatoes. I still maintain that those tomatoes were more flavourful than what I was used to having in Canada. I tried and began to like a few other vegetables that year but I was far from being an adventuresome eater.
In my third year of University, I tried real Asian food for the first time and hated it. I remember thinking that Thai food looked and smelled like cat food when I ate at a Thai restaurant for the first time. Needless to say, I didn't eat much. That year, I had my first authentic Chinese meal and was similarly unimpressed.
Who would have imagined that I would end up marrying a Chinese guy and enjoying some Chinese food quite a lot?
My husband Darren's parents attitudes about food were quite different than my parents. Growing up, Darren and his brother were expected to eat what was served to them. They were taught that it was rude to refuse food and you were to eat even if you didn't like something.
Coming from families with such different views of food, we still struggle to come to a consensus about what we feel is the best way to approach food in our family since Sebby has been quite picky.
He goes through phases where he likes certain foods but then suddenly refuses them. He has gone through phases where he would eat little other than grapes, rice and rice cakes. He looks at many foods we offer and shakes he head and says "no!" right away, even if he has never seen it or tasted it before. He doesn't like the look or taste of anything green (except grapes and apples, which he's allergic to so can't eat!) and isn't very impressed by meat either.
He loves white bread and white rice and pasta. He seems to instinctively know that he loves things that aren't very healthy like chocolate, ice cream and sweets. When he sees a new kind of candy, he wants it. We don't eat or buy candy but he somehow knows that it's "delicious."
As he gets older, we know that we will need to get on the same page about how to approach his eating but one thing Darren and I can agree on is that if we can trick Sebby into eating healthy food, its a win!
We probably need to get more creative about doing this but we have learned a few good tricks so far. We know that he will eat lots of vegetables if they are chopped really small and incorporated into pasta sauce or fried rice or even better, spring rolls!
This morning I made pancakes with grated carrots (carrot cake pancakes) and even with my modifications that reduced the sugar and eliminated the topping altogether, Sebby loved them. All the credit goes to Deb at Smitten kitchen, my favourite food blog for this yummy recipe.
I'd love to hear from you.
Please comment to share your experiences and suggestions.
Did you and your spouse have very different views of food growing up?
If so, how did you come to a consensus of how to approach food as a family?
Do you have any suggestions about how to get kids to eat healthy foods?