Two brief conversations sparked a new idea at my house today.
Matt: “John, do you think you’re a picky eater?”
John is totally a picky eater. Healthy, but picky. He doesn’t think so, because he eats everything I put on his plate. And that’s on me, not on him. I give him food he likes and the list is pretty short. He’s rarely faced with a challenge.
I know that other people — smarter people than me — make healthy, varied, tasty dinners and their kids eat them. Period. (If this is you, I don’t want to hear about it.) I’ve resisted not only because I’m a wimp but also because I selfishly don’t want John waking me up at dawn to tell me he’s hungry.
But lately I’ve been feeling kind of sorry for him. Food is delicious. Lots of different foods are delicious. He’s missing out! Plus, being an interesting citizen of the world requires a willingness to eat more than 12 different items.
Which brings me to conversation #2:
John: “Mom, what do you eat at sleepaway camp?”
Me: “Whatever they give you.”
John: “I guess I better practice trying new foods.”
Did you hear that? My son said I GUESS I BETTER PRACTICE TRYING NEW FOODS.
Now you’re talking.
I’m not going to get crazy and give him spicy stir fry five days a week. I value a pleasant dinner too much to guarantee myself a painful hour of negotiation every night. But I’m instituting “camp night” based on the above conversation. One night a week, John’s getting new foods to try and that will be dinner. Period. Just like the smart people do it.
We’ve talked about this plan, and he’s on board. Wish me luck and send me ideas!
P.S. The picture above is obviously is an old one. When he was little, he ate everything. Someone should have warned me about the rest of this.
Love the “camp night” plan. If you can bear it, allow him to have a ‘spit out’ food each night. Maybe the thing that you guys are eating that you know he’d avoid. He has to put it in his mouth and chew for just a bit, but he is free to spit it out (discreetly) if needed. This totally works for getting kids to even try new foods. Then, they build up the new taste for it, etc. Also, “kissing” a new food is another trick… to introduce at least a new smell, really. Will is 10 and is just now really eating whatever is served. He, like John, ate healthy (steamed vegs, fresh fruits, rice, potatoes, fish, chicken) but avoided mixed or charred foods or anything with “stuff” in it. Now, he is seeing the social value of giving it a try. And, coincidentally, he went to his first week of sleepover camp this summer. 😉