One of the things I hear most often about my son Brooks (who is now 3) is “wow, he’s such a good eater!”. Why, yes he is. I do have to give myself & my husband a small pat on the back because we tried very hard to not create a picky eater. I subscribed to a philosophy I heard a lot growing up…you get what you get & you don’t throw a fit.
I knew one way to create a picky eater was to give him whatever he wanted just to get him to eat. I truly believe if you are truly hungry you will eat what you are given. I knew I wanted him to have a healthy appetite & have taste buds that craved real food. But more than my want was this…he doesn’t have a choice but to be a good, heathy, non-picky eater.
If you haven’t been reading very long, you may not know my son was diagnosed with extensive food allergies at just 13 months old. He was so young & so inexperienced with food it was easy(ish) to create a good eater. But in all truthfulness, his food allergies were so extensive he didn’t have the luxury to be picky. When you are allergic to wheat, cows milk, peanuts, eggs, & soy, you don’t have a lot of options. In addition to those allergies, were warnings of food to stay away from that included nuts of all kinds, seafood, certain beans & legumes, & coconut. It took nearly a year to get it all under control, but here we are almost at the 2 year anniversary of his diagnosis & he is super healthy & rarely gets sick. These allergies where a blessing in disguise & I actually find myself praising God & being thankful for something that was so devastating at the time.
But when you have such a strict diet & so many restrictions you often find the same recipes, lunches, or dinners being repeated all too often. I began to notice my son was pushing back against some of his favorite foods & after looking at what he had been eating I saw that he was eating too much of the same thing day after day. My moment of clarity came when Wouldn’t eat a banana which is one if his favorites & an entire bunch of bananas went bad. A few weeks later when presented the opportunity…he devoured another bunch in 2 days. I was left scratching my head.
Here’s the thing, in all cases variety is key. Always keep their taste buds guessing. Always give them something new & different. Give them sweet, give them bitter, give them spicy, give them bland. Let their taste buds develop a taste for what food from nature tastes like. I realized one of the best ways to get Brooks to try something different is to let him eat while I cook. Let him eat off the cutting board or out of the bowl. I’ve never seen a toddler eat raw bell peppers, shoot I don’t even do that. But he does. So maybe it’s a banana & pepper lesson.