Our relationships with food start early. That is pretty obvious. You begin to eat and your relationship with food has begun. So it is really important for parents to recognize this and try to foster good relationships. I see kids drinking energy drinks and wonder what parent buys that for their kid. I think there should be an age limit on energy drinks just like alcohol. No kid should be purchasing those things. I will admit that I have used them, but I am a middle-aged woman! I also drink too much soda. Again, I am a middle-aged woman. Would I allow a child to drink as much soda as I do? No way! It’s terrible for you! Why do I do it? Because it keeps my energy up for a 3rd shift job. It is hard to work like this constantly. I am fighting natural instincts to sleep at night.
I think parents should really look at the obesity rates and recognize that if they don’t do something while their children are young, they will be adding to that number. Their kids may not be fat now, but if they don’t teach them good eating habits young, the weight will eventually catch up with them. You have to cultivate their palates. You have to introduce them to new foods. You don’t have to starve them, but you do need to help them experience new stuff. They’re never going to learn to like new stuff if they don’t know what it tastes like.
So how do you get them to eat new stuff? Introduce a new food once in a while. Cook foods differently every now and then. As kids get older, let them pick a food they want to try at the grocery store. Let them help with meal planning. Let them help prepare the meal! Kids will enjoy the food much more if they help create it.
Parents, just because you don’t like something, don’t assume your kids don’t or won’t. And also don’t assume that because you do like something that your kids will. For example, my parents loved black-eyed peas. I despise them. Actually, I really despise a lot of peas and beans. Know what I do like, though? Hummus! I love it! I have been eating it a lot lately. Guess what it is made from! Garbanzo beans. I don’t know if my parents liked garbanzos, but I do. (Daddy probably did. That man ate just about anything! I loved watching Daddy eat. He weighed all of about 145 pounds and ate any and everything!) Also, I love pineapple on my pizza and both my parents thought that was horrible. For years I hated hot dogs. It turned out that it was the brand my mother was buying. Once she bought turkey dogs or kosher hot dogs, I was fine and loved them.
If you start young with variety, your kids will most likely try things. This goes especially for veggies. At four years old I was eating beets, okra, turnips, pinto beans, kraut, and all kinds of other stuff. I was lucky to have a huge garden to eat from. Daddy loved to garden and he never did a small one.
Mama had the one-bite rule. If she made it and she would eat it, then I had to try one bite. I didn’t have to eat the whole helping, but I had to try a bite. We did this for a long time with peas and we learned that Amy hates peas. And that is OK. And Mama realized that and didn’t push. But she also realized that Amy loved squash this way. But if Mama wouldn’t eat it, Amy didn’t have to. Maybe not the best thing, but…thankfully Mama did have a good palate.