Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Mother's Ponderings

I have been wondering why Sam (6) and Sadie (3) have such different food preferences. I know they are different people. They are different ages, different genders and were created differently. Yes, yes. I know all that. But for some reason I still need to find another explanation. Maybe it's because I love food so much and therefore spend a lot of time thinking about it, making it, planning for it, etc. Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but that can't be it. For whatever reason, I ponder. Ponder along if you like.

Sadie eats all manner of vegetable. She hogs the asparagus in early spring, devours raw peas as if they were chocolate chips (and, as if she were me), eats raw green beans as if they were raw peas, eats raw kohlrabi (even more than her father) and pops cherry tomatoes. Even the romas ripening on the table aren't safe. I walk past and find Sadie-bites out of four or five of them at a time (She actually gets punished for this because she has been told that anytime she asks for a tomato she will be given one- the half-eaten ones attract fruit flies, people!). Lately, it's been raw carrots. We have to make her stop for fear she'll get sick.

Then, there's Sam.

Sam doesn't like vegetables, especially raw ones. My heart goes out to him. He tries. Occasionally, after Sadie has dove into something, he'll ask in a feeble maybe-I'll-like-it-this-time voice, "Can I have a tomato?" I try not to fall on the floor and in one smooth motion pass one to him. He takes a bite and says, "No, thank you" and Sadie gobbles up his piece.

Here is what I have come up with. When Sam was first learning to eat solids, we lived in a villa (a fancy townhouse) in a development. We had no garden and I had yet to visit the farmer's market. So, what vegetables Sam was introduced to were store-bought-traveled-hundreds-of-miles vegetables. When Sadie was first learning to eat solids, we were into our second garden- twice the size of the first. We were eating more vegetables (both in kind and amount) and therefore she ate more vegetables. Sam was there, too. Just a little bit older and much more skeptical.

Now, I know this isn't necessarily the answer. Miriam will either support or discount my theory. I don't know. What I do believe, though, is that children exposed to a larger variety of foods at a young age are more tolerable and more willing to try different things. Always.

I think.

What about your kids or you? My theory seems too simple.... Pin It


  1. They certainly are all different. But apart from some really personal preferences (each kid dislikes one or two specific veggies and I don't force them to eat those) my four are pretty adventurous. I've noticed that if they grow a veggie themselves,they almost always like it. Also, we never offered "kid options" at meal time. Hunger is a great motivation to try new things. I think it's great that Sam keeps trying. Many adults won't do as much.

  2. I find this very interesting boys have very different tastes. Seth loves pasta...Ian does not. Ian loves fruit and veggies...Seth is much more picky about them. Seth is a carb guy...and his body type is much more stocky. Ian is a fruit and veggie guy...not big on breads and pastas...and he is skinny as a rail. I've often wondered if it has to do with body type?

  3. I truly believe that children are more likely to eat anything they have helped make or grow. Isis is the pickiest eater I know. But set her in the garden and she picks and eats raw green peppers whole. Love raspberries, but only if they come directly from the bush. I can't even take them into the house and put them on the plate. Having the garden for the kids to experience may be the difference!

  4. I think the exposure factor & the gardening factor you mention is key. If the majority of diet isn't vegetables on a regular basis, and other options are the priority or the focus of what you expect them to eat, I think they are more likely to eat the veg/fruit that is available. Hunger is a great motivator. :), gotta go make the over the million miles vegetables. Have a super 'fresh' veggie day.

  5. I have found that my kids preferences continue to change. My oldest used to be very picky, but now will eat almost anything (except eggs). The middle one, who used to eat absolutely everything, now refuses most food (even ice cream). And the youngest has been the pickiest so far, even though he was fed the most "natural" diet yet--breastfed exclusively until 8 months, only homemade baby food (nothing from a jar). However, I do agree with your premise that when children are offered a variety of healthy food at a young age, they are more apt to like it. I also think that as their tastebuds "die off" they are more likely to start enjoying food they did not used to like (like my oldest who now loves onions, green peppers, salsa, etc.), so it is good that Sam is willing to continue to try foods, one day he just might like them!

  6. I have noticed that as our kids grow older they are willing to try new things more and more. At dinner I do ask them to try at least 1 bite of what ever is made. And what is served is what we are eating, separate meals are not an option. If it is something new, ...I make a little rice just in case. The girl will eat any veggie, the boy seems to like all of them better raw....who knows....

  7. I agree with "anonymous" that our taste buds change over time. Foods I wouldn't touch as a kid (despite being introduced to many fruits/vegetables early in life) are now my favorites. The texture was often a factor for me. I eat just about everything now.

    That said, one must also instill in children a habit of eating these foods regardless. I think you are on the right track and therefore, someday, Sam will not only tolerate, but enjoy these foods. Too many people just throw in the towel without creatively working with their children to try various foods. Do keep us posted on Miriam and your theory!

  8. My example is from last night's supper. Clara(7), a self-proclaimed vegetarian(she "doesn't want to eat her friends")gobbled up the okra and Ollie(3) spit his chewed up piece out. Ollie ate all his sweet potatoes and Clara said "They're just not my favorite." These two are basically polar opposites when it comes to food and they discribe themselves as plant-eaters or meat-eaters. I can't help with the theory. I struggle with what to cook on a daily basis to make sure everyone will get their fill of nutricious food, but it's hard. Also, how much do I make them eat to learn that they must eat what is provided regardless of whether they like it or not?

  9. Then there's the genetic taste-buds theory, for example: my husband doesn't care for tomatoes, and I love them. Garden-fresh is best, but decent store-bought is fine if that's all I can get. Half our children liked them early in their solid-food explorations, and still do; one child didn't like them until he was nearly five (though he kept trying, like your Sam) and our youngest (most like my husband in many other ways) still won't eat them, and would rather not try. He also eats fewer veggies in general, especially the green varieties, and squashes. He used to ask me to not put the broccoli on his plate; my response was, when it stopped being good for him, I'd stop giving it to him. He does eat the broccoli now, especially raw--he'll eat many veggies raw but not cooked. I didn't eat much salad growing up, but my husband did.
    It's not only kids who can acquire new tastes, either. My husband's mother loves bell peppers, but Dad didn't like them. She started using yellow and red, and he'll eat them now, after many years of offering.


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