Thanks for all the feedback on my last post about children and food. We’ll see how things go as our son gets older, but for now we’ll just assume that he’ll be somewhat like his parents. My husband and I will eat anything that is put in front of us (trust me – I ate pig intestines when I lived in Africa). I don’t buy or cook meat anymore for ethical reasons, but if I’m at someone else’s house and they serve it, I will eat it. Not liking something and not eating it are two different things. Obviously when I go to the store I purchase foods I like (but that involves one of just about everything from the produce department), and our meals tend to be things that we prefer. But if we’re at someone else’s house or at an ethnic restaurant, we’ll eat whatever we’re served. That’s what we’re trying to instill in our son. I assume that he’ll grow up with various food preferences. And I assume that once he’s cooking for himself and his own family, he’ll prepare the foods he likes. But my goals are to make sure that he’s exposed to a very wide range of foods, and to make sure that he knows it is absolutely unacceptable to make his own food preferences known if someone else is preparing the food.
Since learning begins in the home, we feel that it’s important that he learn that when his parents are doing the cooking, he needs to eat what’s put in front of him. My mother encouraged all of her children to help her in the kitchen, and would let us prepare meals, from choosing the menu to shopping and cooking (none of my three siblings are picky eaters either). We will start doing that with our son as soon as he’s old enough. Since we’re planning to start growing most of our own food once we move, we’ll involve him in that as soon as he’s able. If he’s grown the food in his own garden, he’ll probably be much more likely to appreciate it on the plate.
I read studies before I was pregnant that indicated that what a mother eats while she’s pregnant can have an influence on a child’s tastes. I gave up sugar before I got pregnant (and we still don’t eat it now), and boosted my already high veggie intake. I started making green smoothies while I was pregnant, and our son pretty much always finishes his whole bowl of green smoothie. We don’t eat processed food or conventional dessert in our house, so our son hasn’t been exposed to sweets, and he’s never had fast food (I do serve plenty of fruit, and make desserts out of things like dates and nuts blended together). All of this makes it easier for us to feed him a wide range of foods, including lots of veggies.
This is obviously a personal preference issue. For some parents, it might not be as big a deal. It’s very important to us that our son grow up willing to try new foods and able to eat anywhere with anyone without being a fussy eater. So we’re working towards that goal. We’ll see how it goes, but so far so good!