--- "That's so disgusting, mom. What are those green things?"
--- "Mom, it's literally making me gag!"
I was born & "mostly" raised in the south, & I honestly learned to like a wide variety of foods. I LOVED boiled peanuts, sauerkraut, jicama, kumquats, brown rice, seafood, anchovies, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, turnip greens, and pretty much any greens put on my plate.
But I hated tomatoes. And watermelon. And lettuce. And a tiny handful of other foods... But tomatoes. Oh my gosh. I'm 42 years old at the time of this writing, & it's only been in the past 3 years that I've been able to finally start enjoying tiny little cherry & grape sized tomatoes - IF they're mixed with other foods. I still can't stomach full sized tomatoes. The fact that I can actually enjoy taking a few little yellow pear tomatoes & add them to my dish is literally a miracle.
Lettuce (especially the thick crunchy white part) made me gag. I would sit at the table for ever... and ever... and ever... And one time, even 2 hours later, I sat there staring at the lettuce on my place, because I couldn't swallow it. I'm not sure what changed as I got older, but I eat salads nearly every day now, & I LOVE them.
I never, ever liked watermelon, unless it was the little tiny personal sized sweet Crimsons on a super hot & sweaty day. Last night my daughter was visiting, & she wanted some watermelon. We started having a conversation about how people sprinkle salt on their melon. I'd heard of people doing that, but EW! It sounded so gross to me. As she stood there cutting it into chunks & pulling the salt out of the cupboard, I stared at her from across the family room with a look of, "That is just so..... weird."
Then I got brave.
Result: I like watermelon sprinkled with salt. (Unrefined pink Himalayan salt, of course)...
What I realized as I was sitting there, is that I wasn't just paying attention to the taste. I was conscious of more than that. The cold, the texture, the smell. It's the same with tomatoes. I find myself paying attention to more than just the taste of the food.
I came across an article online recently from 'Super Healthy Kids', that talked about how to approach getting your kids to like new foods. This part cracked me up:
If you focus on just taste, you're up for failure. There's one comment that most parents make, that is a 'recipe' for disaster. And now I can see why! I said it all the time. Here is what you / me / we need to stop saying to our kids:
"Just try one bite. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it."
What our children are actually hearing when we say that, is this:
"If you like it, then you have to eat it."
I would bet that if your kids are picky eaters like mine have been, the LAST thing they want to do is admit that they actually like a healthy food! My son has made horrible faces while tasting foods, & yet I know darn well that he likes it, because of his body language & the look in his eyes. He just doesn't want to lose that power struggle.
I've noticed that when I'm thinking about it, & I use different wording, he's actually more ok with telling me he really does like it. In my book, "Real Food Pantry Makeover", there is a section on what's called Conscious Eating. Or Purposeful Eating. It focuses on what I mentioned above... Eating small bites, chewing slowly, paying attention to the texture, the smell, the temperature, the taste, the emotions you feel, etc. And being truly grateful for the food.
Super Healthy Kids approach to success? Here you go:
Well DUH - That makes it more like a fun science class than a battle for power! And yet they still have power, because they get to observe & experience while coming up with an awesomely creative answer to your questions! It takes the focus away from the negative food stigma & actually gets their curiosity rolling.
You know what I think? I think I'm going to not only use those questions with my kids, but I'm going to use them with myself too! Maybe it will help me begin to enjoy the few foods I still don't think I like. :)
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