The Fresser

Fussy eating - is it nature or nurture?

Unlike me, my children are frustratingly picky eaters. Was it always going to be this way or did I ruin their appetites with my Jewish mother's guilt?

March 18, 2017 16:09

To my constant irritation (and shame) my children are finicky about their food.

I’ll eat anything you put in front of me. Anything. Always have done.

Surely they should have inherited my foodie gene? Apparently not. If nature is not to blame then nurture is looking a likely candidate, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I am in some way at fault.

Since they arrived, my Jewish mother programming could not bear them to go hungry. That, and the fear that if their tiny tummies were empty they would wake even more in the night than they already did.

If they refused whatever I was offering — from sweet potato puree to broccoli mush — I'd stuff them full of bread sticks, fruit puree or fromage frais rather than see them leave the high chair unfed. 

As time went on, I’d present them with all the child-friendly favourites — pasta with tomato sauce; fish fingers; macaroni cheese. All foods that I knew would go in their tummies and not the bin. Who could face the frustration of seeing the fruits of their labour being scraped into the compost bin?

Sure, the tomato sauce was packed with all manner of hidden vegetables. Pureed, as it was, to toddler-friendly homogeneous red smoothness with not a lump or green bit in sight, the victory was hollow. Like winning winning Wimbledon because your opponent has twisted their ankle. 

They've always loved a sandwich and i've always insisted it's on wholegrain bread, but the fillings are still limited to cream cheese, regular cheese and peanut butter, oh, and jam when i'm not supervising.

As time has gone on, progress has been slow. I have the odd victory - they both now eat salmon (albeit disguised by a coat of cornflakes before baking) and salmon rissoles are also a favourite - especially my Mother-in-law's. The vegetable tally has risen. Slightly.

I've also introduced kosher meatballs from Eureka Cove which they nosh up with not even minimal moaning. With a helping of that tomato sauce, a side of steamed veggies and gluten-free pasta I feel like the nutritionist's dream. 

Friday night’s roast chicken is still greeted with moans and groans by one child - who I still force to clear her plate; but both now (finally) enjoy the roast potatoes. WHO has to be taught to enjoy a roast potato?!! Chicken soup remains a step too far, and I’ve given up attempting to persuade them to even taste smoked salmon …

I hear tales of children eating all manner of foods — from sushi to curry and with plenty of 'grown-up' foods in between. I keep reminding myself that most adults do end up eating a range of foods. Even my brother, who ate a diet of tomato ketchup, orange squash and chocolate as a child now eats everything. Sure, some remain fussy, but I’ve not met anyone over the age of 10 who still exists on chicken nuggets and fish fingers. I'm hoping nature will kick in soon and my children are not the first… 

March 18, 2017 16:09

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive