I was reading a news article which revealed how disconnected our children have become from food. Apparently a third of all UK primary children think that cheese is made from plants! The article goes on to quote a series of food misconceptions that a scary number of UK children believe such as fish fingers coming from pigs and pasta being made from meat.
I think for a lot of us feeding children and our children’s relationship with food has become extremely complicated. When I was a child it was fairly simple, cook food, give to children, repeat regularly. Sure there where things I didn’t like, and I’m sure there were still some fussy eaters. These days though it seems like every other child struggles to eat anything outside of their very narrow repertoire.
We are told to make food fun, not force but continue to offer different foods regularly until our children decide to eat them. I took this approach with Super Kid and his food tastes became narrower and narrower. He would eat pasta, rice etc, but only completely plain. He would eat cheese, eggs and veggie burgers but would barely touch fruit or vegetables. I got extremely fed up of presenting meal after meal and then scraping most it into the food waste box. I had had enough and I decided to make a change.
I’m going to be controversial and for sure a huge chunk of you are going to disagree with me, so apologies in advance. Honestly though I think we should stop pandering to our children’s limited food choices. Stop desperately making faces out of their salad veg. Stop letting your kids dictate what they will and won’t eat and start cooking regular food.
The kind of food we always ate as children. Pasta and veg sauce that isn’t whizzed up to hide carrots. Stews, lasagne, fish and chips. Whatever you plan to cook each day, serve it up and expect them to eat it.
Sure they will whine, refuse and cry, some kids will even force themselves to vomit in order to guilt you into continuing with the old program of their favourites each day. My children don’t always love what I put in front of them, they sometimes don’t eat it, but there are never alternatives and none of them is starving.
I give them their meal. I ask that that they eat at least a portion of it, say a third. If they refuse then they don’t get pudding. They don’t get anything else, they will simply be hungry. If they eat they get tons of praise and high five’s and pudding. This is working, we have seen huge changes in what our children will eat.
Since I started feeding my children what was on the menu they have become more adventurous. They have their usual kid favourites of macaroni cheese, and potato waffles. Alongside those my son recently discovered he liked goats cheese and sweet potato pie, my other son announced that a bean stew I had made was delicious!
Perhaps you already have children who chow down on dal and love olives, kudos to you and how do you do it? My message is for those of you who are cooking the same meals day after day. Those of you throwing away a ridiculous amount of food after each mealtime. If it’s driving you bonkers this is what I did to change things. If not and you’re happy with things then thats groovy too. I’m simply offering an alternative. What do you think?