Before my wife and I had a child of our own, many of my clients would look at the meal plan I created for them and tell me, “My kids won’t eat that.”
What always puzzled me was the meal plan was all real food. Good food – chicken, beef, fish, eggs, rice, yam, potatoes, vegetables, good fats, fruits and stuff like that.
When I would try and say things like, “Give it a try, you might be surprised.” I would get a fast answer of, “You don’t have kids, you wouldn’t understand.”
I got the same thing if I happened to see a client in the grocery store.
For some odd reason, people think I am the ‘food police’, but I assure you I am not. I only help when asked and offer advice when requested. It is not my place to judge – I happen to have polished off a one litre of cherry chocolate ice cream tonight as part of my cheat meal – we all get to choose.
Back to the client in the grocery store, I would always get, “I’m just buying this stuff for my kids. They won’t eat the good stuff.”
That always made me sad and I did wonder if I was wrong and maybe kids wouldn’t eat good food.
I know as a kid I ate a lot of junk food and maybe I was wrong.
I recall being in third world countries with Rotary International giving out wheelchairs or helping with some project and seeing the local children eat what they were given without a sound or opinion apart from ‘thank you’.
So I always knew it was possible but the question remained – can a North
American child eat good food without a fuss?
Before children my wife and I would have lengthy discussions on how we planned to parent and when the food thing came up, we had ideas on what we would say to work with our future child to ensure a healthy start. They were just theories back then, but we felt confident!
Well, we do have a son now (he’s three-years-old), and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that kids will eat good food and I have proof! Lots of it in fact!
We stuck to our plans as our little boy came into our world. My wife breastfed and when it was time for pablum; we made our own with a baby bullet blender. It wasn’t too hard and was actually fun. Our son loved it.
Certainly there were things he liked more than others, but as a rule, he got no sugar at all for the first year of his life and very little in his second year.
In his third year, perhaps a little more, but basically he eats what we eat, just less of it.
This past weekend marked our 23rd wedding anniversary. We took our two-person kayak out onto the lake and paddled to a private beach and had a picnic. We brought along various snacks including some farmers’ market carrot cake made with butter, sugar and all the fun stuff. The reason was that at our wedding back in 1992, the cake was carrot and I thought it would be fun to celebrate that way.
After some of the main snacks of cheese, almonds, crackers and farm fresh blueberries, I pulled out the cake. I offered it around and my three-year-old had a little piece and said it was yummy. Then, he picked up the container of cake and handed it to me. He then lifted up the bag the cake container had been in and handed me that so he could get at the blueberries, which he prefers over cake.
Clearly. He never had another piece of cake.
Later that night when it was time for my wife and I to head out on our anniversary date, we offered to pay for pizza for the babysitter and our son, to have a celebration too, and to make supper easy for the babysitter.
We were informed upon our return that our son had taken a bite of pizza and asked for chicken, peas and brown toast instead. Since we had all of that handy in the fridge the babysitter happily made him his usual meal.
I guess my point is this – our children develop a palate, taste buds and preferences right from when they are very young. We can influence that to a large degree for a period of time and hopefully those habits carry on into the rest of their lives. I know of way too many people with onset diabetes, cancer and so many other illnesses that I think food – good food – could play a major role in changing.
Kids will eat when they are hungry, so please, for their future and yours feed them well. They will eat it, I promise.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.