Nothing I did worked to convince my three children to eat a variety of meals. I reached a point where I felt overburdened by the amount of planning I was doing. My kids are no longer fussy after a year of exploring Latin America. There are over 3 million readers of Morning Brew.
You ought to, too! Thank you for registering! Eating in a trick-or-treat fashion had been customary in my home. To lure my picky kid, the ice-cube dish was transformed into a rainbow feast, complete with Saturn-shaped hard-boiled eggs for protein, blueberries for antioxidants, and strawberry slices for vitamin C. But those perceptive, youthful eyes always discovered the spinach concealed in my muffins.
I put on a chef’s hat and talked to my kids about the value of good eating practices. To keep my chickens near the sources of their food, I erected a coop. I helped them prepare meals. My three-year-old now possesses exceptional knife abilities. I even registered my eldest for a culinary class where she made a perfect personal pizza with just pepperoni on top.
When presented with unfamiliar meals, my kids retreated and occasionally retaliated. They have innate sensitivities and dislikes. I’ve flooded myself with justifications and cautions. Kids need options to give them more authority, but they shouldn’t have too many options because that can be overwhelming. Not a trait, but a phase. It is developmentally normal to be picky.
I was relieved when a kind pediatrician advised me to give my overweight child ice cream.
With their pickiness, IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO MAINTAIN ALL 3 HAPPY Every parent wants to give their kids the food they need to grow. My long-term goal was to foster openness, but despite our use of organic food and three-bite limits, nothing changed. They were aware of what was available on the shelves and would only eat broccoli at their request.
It felt difficult to fit the preferences of three kids into the time limits of the dietary pyramid. I was submerged in homemade chicken soup that had been strained to remove the chicken. I became a personal chef due to my vision of health, and no amount of high-tech canning could save me. Hearing the pleading for brioche with butter was exhausting me.
My family made the decision to go to Latin America for a year so that we could vacation there permanently. We have meals in Lima, Peru, Antigua, Mexico City, and other culinary hotspots. We all unintentionally consumed flying-ant sauce and grasshopper tamales during our week-long stay in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Me, one of us, nearly passed out. However, this marked the beginning of a second, parallel journey that would involve less familiar foods for our children and more breathing room during mealtimes.
I transmit menus with tasty translations. These vague descriptions, which include “like a pizza” and “hot chocolate but earthier,” are enough to persuade people to try a taste.
There were no choices, therefore this era of discovery was born. Every morning at 7:30, one host would arrive bearing pupusas, homemade masa patties topped with tomato puree and pickled cabbage. There was no option, no cereal, and no syrup because there was no nearby market. In El Salvador, the youngsters accepted breakfast for what it was.
THEIR PICKINESS GOT LOST When their preferred options aren’t available, my kids eat what’s available. Since Mexican churros, no one has given up a dash of cinnamon, which used to be abhorrent.
Some of the unintentionally cultivated gastronomic criticism vanished as the biological need took over.
The cuisine culture varies according to each nation. Because there are no well-known brands or American culinary methods, our children cannot reject something they do not understand. They are excessively inquisitive and ravenous. Since I last misled them a year ago, they now routinely taste everything. When they do object, we don’t press because we respect their openness enough to do so.
From deserts to rainforests, our children eat what the environment has to offer. Their diets have changed, and the variation has a positive impact on their health thanks to foods like papaya, choclo, and rambutan, which are high in potassium and fiber.
We are reminded that nutritional balance can be found not in the food groups on a plate but rather in a succession of small victories dispersed throughout many different regions of the world.
My children used to enjoy pickling but never eat pickles. This trip allowed us parents to say what we had been meaning to say all along: “This is what we have to eat.”