Happy Eaters

The sight of the kids eating happily brings me a deep, maternal sense of satisfaction rarely found elsewhere.  When they ask for seconds, I give myself an internal high-five.

Right now, we are sticking with family classics—delicious meals passed down from generation to generation.  However, I’m getting (perhaps unnecessarily?) nervous: what happens when the kids start to say no?  How can I encourage them to be adventurous eaters?

This 2013 Huffington Post article suggests that eating habits are tied to genes as well as upbringing:

“Dislike of slimy textures might be built into our genetic code, which could have kept our ancestors away from foods that would sicken then. But that doesn’t explain why some cultures embrace gooey or mushy ingredients, like okra, bird’s nest or even Jell-O. It’s possible that environmental favors, like the early introduction of such foods and repeated contact with them, could help a person overcome a biological dislike of them.”

We’ve previously mentioned the popular Parisian-style parenting book Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.  In this NPR interview, Druckerman mentions:

“We [Americans] assume…that kids have inherent likes and dislikes, whereas the French view on food is the parent must educate their child and that appreciation for different food is something you cultivate over time.”

On NBC Today, “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern offers a few thoughts on children’s eating habits:

“We allow the message of our culture to get to our kids before our parental message gets to our kids. When society tells us, ‘Oh that food is gross,” or ‘How could you eat liver? It’s terrible,’ that teaches kids to practice contempt prior to investigation. And I think if we get to them before the cultural messaging gets to them, they become open-minded unfinnicky eaters. I’ve run test cases on children in my family; I know this works.”

My personal takeaways: feed them different food frequently.  And always let them know this food is delicious. I’ll give it a shot and let you know what happens!

How did you deal with your picky eaters?  Or how did you encourage adventurous eating?

FTC Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored.

Tags: Moms, Kids, healthy eating, picky eaters, adventurous eaters, food

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