I overheard two women talking outside the gates of my daughter’s school some time ago. They were discussing their children’s eating habits; one said her son had refused anything but two-minute-noodles or pizza for over a year, the other said ‘mine wouldn’t dare, he’d find himself going to bed hungry and that’s that!’ I went away and felt too sad for words. Do these women know that they are forming the relationships that their kids will have with food as adults?

Even though my child is a relatively adventurous eater, there are times when the dish I have prepared is not suitable for her; a too-hot curry perhaps, a wine-heavy coc au vin, or crayfish (which she finds terrifying because of their tentacles and ‘horns’). There are other days when I’m expecting guests for a late supper and she has come in ravenous from a grueling ballet rehearsal and needs to be fed right then.

We must never forget that, until a certain age, children eat with their eyes and, contrary to the way we mush up baby food, they reach an age when they may want their food clearly separated on the plate. It doesn’t have to be the old fall-back-on fishfingers and frozen fries either.

Minced chicken balls with tomato sauce, sweetcorn and potato mash, baked beans.

Other hit meals she enjoys:

Pumpkin flap jacks with grilled bacon
Flaked tuna on a buttered, baked potato
Chicken strips stir fried with pineapple & rice

I really don’t understand how a child can be permitted to grow up without being guided towards understanding and enjoying food.


21 Comments Add yours

  1. Adeeyoyo says:

    I agree that, as with other things, children should be guided to eat healthily.

  2. New Attitude says:

    Which begs the question : Who is the adult and who is the child? As parents it is our responsibility to guide our children to appreciate and enjoy food that is good for them…excellent post

  3. nrhatch says:

    I agree.

    And the more colors on the plate the better: a slice or two of apple, a few carrot and celery sticks, a broccoli floret and . . . the beloved slice of pizza!

  4. granny1947 says:

    Good thinking Cindy!

  5. suzicate says:

    I have a niece whose parents fed her Mickey D’s chicken nuggets and fries daily! She grew up only eating candy, no veg and no meat, only chicken nuggets…seriously. She will now eat salad, pasta without sauce, and a few other things. I NEVER cooked seperate meals for my children hence they have grown up to eat everything under the sun. They are not picky and they eat healthy. Our children grow up eating the way we teach them. Kids can be picky, but it’s up to the parent to stay strong. I work with small children, and you have no idea how many people will not battle this. So many kids are growing up eating junk, boxed food, or fast food, and do not appreciate a healthy home cooked meal! Sorry for the rant!

  6. brian says:

    i think my boys would live on chicken alone is they could…lol.

  7. deepercolors says:

    Would that we all had such understanding mothers.

  8. deepercolors says:

    Oops. Hit enter too soon. It’s not just kids that would like your simple recipes above sound good to me too. I am not all that fond of a hot curry and heavy wine anything is just a taste I never acquired, even here in Northern California. Sweet corn and potato mash. Mmm.( With a little organic butter and fresh ground pepper) The pumpkin flapjacks with bacon sound good too. Maybe I am still a kid at heart (or should I say stomach)

  9. Halfp1nt says:

    How sad that some parents don’t take more care with their sprog’s food.
    I know it’s a bit of a mission when it comes to catering for my niece with her severe peanut (and it’s related families) allergy, but my SiL has always taken extra care in making sure she eats properly and her plate is always appealing to the eye.

  10. klrs09 says:

    How right you are. I remember back, sadly, to the times when my son was little and I would not let him leave the table until he had finished his supper. This was only occasionally, but still, the memory hurts. He was always a good eater, why did I feel so compelled to punish him? I’m glad to say, I’ve changed my thinking over the intervening years and when I’m feeding my grandkids I would NEVER force them to eat anything they didn’t want. Encourage them to try? You bet. Thanks Cindy!

  11. lifeinarecipe says:

    True words. I let my children run through their food phases and they grew up to enjoy all sorts of different foods because eating was not taught to be stressful. My son is living proof of that. For years pizza was his only food group and now he enjoys eating everything from that to sushi!

  12. izziedarling says:

    Your daughter is lucky and the food sounds delish. As soon as mine could it table food, they ate what we ate. Good post!

  13. slpmartin says:

    As I have said before I truly enjoy cooking, but even more I love the cultural lesson that I get when I examine the foods you prepare there…I have tried several of your recipes with rave reviews from folks here…of course my children are grown so I don’t have to deal with this issue anymore….but thanks for all the other recipes. 😉

  14. souldipper says:

    And, Cin, to add to your wise offering, I recently asked my Dr. why I have osteoporosis since I live a very healthy lifestyle and have done so for years (except for my sweet tooth). She told me the die was cast by the time I was ten years of age. What a legacy you are giving your daughter. – Amy

  15. BFG says:

    well done, and importantly so. One’s relationship with food is more telling of other things than just itself. Thanks!

  16. Kavita says:

    agreed agreed and agreed! I am glad I relish what I eat…and slllooooowwwlllyyy… ofcourse my mom always felt (still does) that I enjoy the cooking of my aunts !! How can she think so?! Just cuz I used to whine about her cooking huh?? 🙂 So, when she visits us now, I gorge whatever she makes! It’s all a treat! 🙂
    Food, to an extent, is the essence of our lives (no…seriously!) …don’t you think?

  17. buttercup600 says:

    I am with you on this one Cindy, my children are grown now too and because food has always played a rather important role in our home, they enjoy it on every level as well and experiment…to my joy and delight!! You made me hungry for Pumpkin flap jacks ….my favourite food ever!! Hugs x

  18. Jingle says:

    that’s so sweet and thoughtful…

  19. JamieDedes says:

    Here. Here. I would second this. My experience raising my son was consistant with yours with your daughter, Cindy. I was a terrible eater as a child … “eats like a bird” was the family saying … my son is forty now, healthy and a healthy eater and happily adventurous. He can cook. And when I cook or his wife does, he’s always polite and says “thank you.” I’m glad you posted this. As Jingle says, it’s “sweet and thoughtful.”

  20. libras child says:

    it IS posisble the second mother cooked fairly nutritious but simple meals then left it up to the children. our house when we were younger had that choice. i may blog this…hmmm…

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