Thursday, 28 January 2016

Toddlers, fussy eaters, hmmm…

Toddler food
Food face

Ok, so this is a post about toddlers and their eating habits. It’s a subject I’m fairly familiar with as I had one (a fussy eater) and was at my wit’s end about it at the time. He’s fine now.

UK toddlers have been branded the pickiest eaters in Europe. I’m not sure why this is, maybe it’s related to our long work hours, maybe it’s something else but eating certainly seems to be the one area where UK toddlers have the upper hand over parents. Parents drive themselves to distraction trying to solve it - there are whole websites and forums dedicated to the subject. Parents have even developed a phrase called ‘baby led weaning’ – basically meaning ‘let them eat what they want because we haven’t got the energy to fight anymore’. Personally, I think there’s something rather roman about a feeding style where the critics chuck rejected servings over their shoulders.

Isn’t this just a real first world problem though? Do many children starve themselves to death in the UK?

As I said my son went through a very fussy stage and I became fairly preoccupied with it. Like many toddlers, he didn’t like food touching or sauces of any sort and many other oddities that I now forget. But I can remember writing out a list of all the foods he would eat and all the combinations e.g. mince = shepherd’s pie, lasagne, chilli etc. I remember arranging vegetables into faces and uttering such absurdities as, ‘He loves spaghetti, but dislikes “pasta’. I even recall telling him bare-faced lies such as ‘cauliflower is just white broccoli’ and ‘pork is another word for chicken’.  ‘These sprouts are delicious’ I’d say as I gobbled up a cold, limp scrap of veg from his plate. I fooled no one. 

I kept trying and trying…and it became very trying. The supper table became a battleground. Eventually he outgrew it or I gave up, I can’t remember exactly which but he eats fine now and I was thinking about this recently when I came across this blog. It made me laugh out loud because it really does sum up the irrationality of toddlers and only by summarising it so succinctly can we truly take a step back. Have a look and find Penny who ‘refuses to eat food unless the dog has tried it first’, Miles who ‘won’t eat a granola bar if it's broken’ and Gabe who ‘won’t eat scrambled egg unless you spell his name out next to it in ketchup’.

Spare a thought though for those poor parents whose worries have actually influenced the market. Apparently, Waitrose have been working secretly with farmers to produce a sweeter, nuttier brussel sprout to win over these picky kids. I’m sure they will go down a storm. And think yourself lucky if you don’t have to seriously consider forum suggestions such as, ‘A novel way to get a toddler eating carrots..... cut into batons, cook until soft, and serve with...a dippy egg!’

And finally a quote from Gyneth Paltrow, ‘I basically love anything that comes in a hot dog bun… except hot dogs.’

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