I'd just put a pint of fresh berries in my grocery cart when my daughter started on one of her tears. "I don't LIKE blueberries," she informed me. This is new. Last summer, I couldn't keep them in the fridge. Now she's turning up her nose at them. Welcome to life with a picky eater.
I never set out to raise a picky eater. Back when I knew everything -- you know, before I actually had a kid -- I thought that all you had to do was give your child tons of options from day one, and magically they would prefer Chilean sea bass to chicken nuggets.
Right? That's how it's supposed to work?
So little old vegetarian me didn't even suggest to my husband that we might try raising a little vegetarian. We dove right into veggies, and fruits, and meats, and this, that, and the other thing.
Name it, and she's tried it. At least a few times, because, of course, all the books tell you that it takes several attempts for a child to actually "like" a food.
And at 8 years old, she is picky.
She eats broccoli but not green beans. She'll eat tomatoes but not tomato sauce (except on pizza, of course). She loves salt, but she better not find one single fleck of pepper on her food.
I have only one thing to say about it: I'm fine with it.
OK, maybe I have a few more things to say.
I'm not buying one of the gazillion books out there on how to "fix" my picky eater. I'm not on the phone with my pediatrician, desperate to find a nutritionist. And I'm certainly not going to go back over my parenting "mistakes" with a fine tooth comb to figure out what I did wrong to end up in this state.
I'm fine with my daughter being a picky eater because I am a picky eater. I am a vegetarian for crying out loud!
A vegetarian who doesn't like broccoli.
Although there are myriad reasons why I have remained a vegetarian for 16 years, one of the biggest is that I never liked the taste or texture of meat. Nor do I like the taste and texture of nuts (not even peanut butter). Or red peppers. Or coffee.
You get my point. She comes by her pickiness naturally, genetically.
And my parents tried hard to undo it. I remember sitting at the dining room table for hours after everyone else in the family had finished their meals, a plate of sausage in front of me. All I had to do was eat some, and I could get up.
The hours passed.
Still, I waited.
Finally, desperate to get out of that chair, I took a few bites. And my stomach started roiling. I didn't even make it to the bathroom before the sausage was on the floor.
It's memories like those that keep me from pushing my kid too hard.
It's the knowledge that -- while my tastes today are considered "likes" and "dislikes" because I'm an adult -- if you boil it down, I'm really just a picky eater that makes me sympathetic to her requests that I dish up the macaroni and cheese before I add the breadcrumbs and bake it or that I leave out the "black stuff" (pepper) on her noodles.
It's not that I don't stress nutrition. She is required to eat a green vegetable with dinner, to get her calcium, her protein. In my fridge right now are no less than four different fresh fruits she can choose from for snacktime, and for lunch these past few days, she's requested farm fresh eggs with whole wheat toast.
Maybe if she refused ALL fruits and vegetables, I'd be more upset about her pickiness. But I'd rather make broccoli every single night because she likes it than throw out perfectly good lima beans, spinach, and zucchini over and over again because they remained untouched.
Her palate will expand eventually. Mine did.
But for now, I don't care if she eats the same 10 foods all day every day. She's healthy. Isn't that enough?
Do you have a picky eater? Do you stress out about it?
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