Making Every Bite Count

Attention parents of picky eaters of the world – I feel your pain. I am a lover of food – I have rarely met a food I don’t like – and I love to cook. My younger daughter – age 5 – is constantly pulling up a chair when I am chopping, stirring, and mixing, and asking to help. When she first started showing an interest in helping me in the kitchen (around age 2), my heart leapt for joy – here was my lover of food, my adventurous child! I imagined taking her for sushi at age 3, Korean barbecue at age 4, etc. However, this was not to be. For although she loves to help me cook the food, she does not want to eat the food.

Seems unfathomable I know, but true. I asked her the other day what she wanted to be when she grew up – she said she wants to “sell food.” “Like a chef?” I asked. No, she wants to sell doughnuts. Sigh.

In any event, I have learned, living with my picky eater, to make every bite count. That means I try to make sure anything that is going into her picky mouth is wholesome, nutritious and as natural as possible. I stick with whole grain breads and pastas, low fat milk, no sodas or other drinks with sugar added, plenty of fruit (I serve fruit with each meal that I know she will eat and always a vegetable – she needs to take at least one bite and we try for more) lean, high- quality poultry and meats, unprocessed cheeses and healthy snacks to try and catch up what we are missing during meals. Breakfast seems to be her favorite meal so I offer fruit, whole grain waffles, toast, bagels and yogurt. (I am definitely not above breakfast for dinner on a regular basis.) I bake oatmeal cookies, banana bread, etc. to try and make treats somewhat wholesome.

I will keep trying with daughter #2 – I am constantly asking my kids – “how many times do we sometimes have to try a new food before we like it?” “Ten!” All three respond, as they suffer through their bite of delicious roasted asparagus.

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Rachael Ray