Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kids and food. Make it an adventure.

I'm not the biggest fan of Rachael Ray, but she had an excellent commentary on a recent show. She was talking about preparing fast family meals and addressed a lament many parents have: Their children will eat only one or two things. As in chicken and corn. Or chicken and french fries.

Her point: The children weren't born that way, so how'd their tastes get so narrow and dictatorial? Look in the mirror, mom and dad. Children eat what they do because it's what we serve them from their earliest meals. Period. It's that simple. Tell yourselves otherwise, and you're kidding yourself.

Ms. Ray recalled when she was doing a cooking demonstration at a grocery and how parents would come by, see what she was cooking and answer a child's request with, 'No, you won't like that.' And these would be the same parents who'd complain that their children eat only chicken fingers. They say that if they held the line and broadened a child's menu offerings, they'd starve.

Trust me. They won't starve. Once they see you're serious at taking their boilerplate dinner and adding to it, they'll get with the program. Hold the line.

Sure, there are some flavors and foods people don't like. I cannot stand flaked coconut; hate the taste, hate the texture even more. I've got a friend who hates curry. There is a difference in having a few personal preferences (coconut, curry, raw tomatoes?) and being a wholesale nullifier of anything that isn't a boneless piece of chicken breast breaded and fried.

Anyway, Rachael Ray's advice on how to get children to eat more than two things was an interesting discussion in how and what we eat. It's a discussion worth having, and it's truly a case of putting your money where your mouth is.