By Dallas Stevens
My husband and I love food. High brow, low brow, and everything in between, we are good eaters and very little is kept off the menu. I only mention this because, despite all of our best efforts and hopes, my son has still turned out to be a picky eater.
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, one of the many things I hoped for him was that he would have the same connection to food that we do. I envisioned him cooking dinner with his dad and enjoying things like sushi. And for a while, it was true.
During my pregnancy, I read one study that suggests moms who had a more diverse diet while pregnant were less likely to have picky eaters. So I ate everything. Spicy food, different cultures' foods, and unique flavors. I even actively decided that the one thing that I didn't like, bell peppers, would still be incorporated into my cooking. After all, it would be hypocritical of me to say that he wasn't allowed to dislike certain foods if I chose not to eat something myself.
Things went well at first. We do nightly family dinners, and once he was eating solids consistently, we would make him whatever we were eating and he would happily enjoy it. We tried to keep his meals and ours, consequently, as diverse as possible. He would eat Indian food, rich French dishes, and all kinds of "non-kid foods." Even fish and oysters were favorites of his. That is, until they weren't.
Despite my best efforts, once he began to recognize particular foods and have favorites, it was all over.
Dealing with fussy eaters is difficult, especially when every day is a variation on a similar theme. Each meal has a rotation of a few selected items that he'll eat and refuses to deviate from. While he does have a couple of food items that he loves that I would consider more adult flavors, like smoked salmon, more often than not he has become a "kid's meal" type of boy.
And don't even get get me started on if foods happen to touch each other on his plate.
At this age, children like routine. I've standardized every other part of his life like sleep and play, so it makes sense that he would enjoy the comfort of familiar meals. Just like I get pleasure from trying new foods, right now he savors consistent foods that he knows how to request.
I try to maintain a sense of perspective when dealing with picky eaters. He's gone through phases before and I'm hopeful that if we keep giving him family meals and doing what we should, eventually he'll be willing to try something different.