Hallelujah! I’m not to blame for the fussy eating habits of my 8 year old son. Oh no wait a minute -I am. What? So scientists have just discovered a child’s fussy eating habits are largely down to who they are and their genetics.
I’ve often asked myself over the past 6 years where did I go wrong with my son. I started off weaning him like many middle class parents –faithly following the Annabel Karmel baby/toddler recipe books. He tried every mushed up vegetable you can think of – and ate them all up yum yum (ok except courgettes and who can blame him for that?!) Then we progressed onto toddler meals and then more advanced meals including the likes of her ‘Liver Special’ and ‘Kedgeree’ which ingredients included curry powder, smoked haddock and egg …Frankly even making that one turned my stomach. But he gobbled them up like a child possessed and without an eating issue in sight. I felt pretty proud that my son had such a mature pallet.
But then aged around 4 something changed –slowly but surely he started rejecting all these delicious adventurous home cooked meals. Pretty soon it was a case of the plainer the better – he now hates anything with – well taste. The more boring and bland the better. Pasta and cheese – can’t get enough! Fish fingers and chips – yum delicious! Margherita pizza – would live off the stuff. I would look on with envy as a few of my friends persevered with giving their kids olives, pesto and other delicious delicacies. As my frustrations with his fussiness grew, one day I caught him doing something odd – he was sniffing his food. That is weird I thought. But then I realised something – I do that! I know it sounds odd but if I am presented with something new and unfamiliar I do a little sniff test to see if I fancy giving it a go. Because the thing is I’m a really fussy eater too! So either he’s seen me doing this or it really is genetic. I really hope he hasn’t seen me sniffing my dinner and that it is the latter we are talking about here.
We’re being told that fussy kids just need to be exposed and encouraged to new foods on a regular basis. Each new food can take as much as 15 times before your child will accept it. 15 times!! Seriously who has the time or energy for that?!
Ok so I know it’s a pain having a kid who is a fussy eater but as long as they have a little bit of variety in their diet is it really so bad? When I was little a friend of mine would only eat egg and chips – that is all – all of the time. He has since grown up to be a strapping man with kids of his own and a diet with a slightly wider variety.
Unless your child is existing on a diet of dried pasta (I recently heard of such a child who was not surprisingly seriously malnourished) – then really it’s ok. They’ll grow up and realise that all their friends are eating sushi and Mexican and their diet is really dull and boring. Or they won’t – but does it really matter?