There’s a Black Bit on My Strawberry!
Like many aspects of parenting there is a delicate balance between too much and not enough when it comes to pandering to the whims of children eating or drinking something that they disapprove of. Whether it’s the wrong
colour apple, the strawberry has a black bit, they’ve never tried it before, or the worst crime of them all, when food is cut but should have remained whole. Kids complaining about food is a normal and natural part of learning, albeit very annoying. I don’t know about you but I can be a bit sensitive when the kids don’t like the meals I have made for them. They don’t realise that I have spent time calculating the nutritional value, adding on their preferred tastes and ensuring it looks presentable to them. It’s quite a formula and therefore distressing when they doubt the organisation and careful planning behind it.
We’ve all heard it. “Mum, there’s a black bit on my strawberry”! When it comes to food battles, some choose to fight till the end making threats of no dessert or other undesirable happenings unless they eat that strawberry black bit and all. On the other hand, some give in and cut the black bit off to save the inevitable repetition that follows. Many of us tiptoe the line all the while, constantly judging if we have the strength or not to make this a lesson in not being fussy. At the end of the day we don’t want to raise a bunch of weirdos that go to a lovely Thai restaurant and ask for macaroni cheese.
We went to a Japanese restaurant the other day with the kids, safely in the knowledge that they love noodles and would surely be easy to please. The kid’s meals came with a drink and as reliable as a Tokyo train they ordered apple juice. The drinks came and was obviously freshly juiced as it was the colour of swamp, with a layer of swampy foam on the top. My sons were not perturbed and happily slurped away, while my daughter flatly refused to try it.
My kids generally aren’t too bad, I can boast that they will all eat mild curry, only one out of three of them is fussy about meat, no allergies (thank heavens) and with sufficient enthusiasm from me will give most things a go. I have tried very hard to push their eating abilities, and by that I mean I like to regularly offer them new foods. I like to add spice to their repertoire (although they probably won’t be bold enough to eat chilli beef for a while after my last disaster – I later found out it was also too hot for the adults), and I do insist when they are dubious to have at least one medium-sized mouthful so they can say they tried.
Getting them to eat fruit and vegetable skin is important to me too, not so much for the non-fussy angle but because there are so many nutrients and vitamins in the skin of fresh produce. Apple is a good example here. At first I would peel and slice it to encourage them to like the taste. As they have grown I have left more and more skin on. If you peel three rings on an apple at the top, around the equator and around the bottom and then cut in half, core and slice it looks striped. And what could be better than a striped apple? Now you may think that this is a lot of effort to go to, but it goes a long way in teaching the kids to accept and eat with less fuss.
Another one I like to leave a bit of skin on is potato – white or sweet. I love potato skin (sooo many nutrients!) and in an aid to mould my kids how I want them (hehe) I try to leave a bit of the skin on when I peel them to mash. Note – NOT the super dirty potatoes, I’m trying to encourage, not perform miracles. The older two scoff it down without noticing, my toddler-come-preschooler isn’t as easy to sway.
As a child I was never given much fruit, but I was very good with vegetables. To this day I still have to force myself to choose fruit as a snack option, and still have a very wide range of veggies on the plate. Learning good eating habits now will hopefully send them into adulthood with healthy bodies and healthy minds, and the ability to make nutritious choices when it comes to food selection. I mostly choose to fight the good fight now by insisting that they eat that apple regardless of it’s colour. I want my kids to move towards not being fussy eaters, to enjoy fresh produce, be open to new and interesting cuisines, as well as bring about world peace and walk on the moon. Not expecting too much? So how about having a go at that strawberry… black bit and all.
Emma Eastman 2014
Emma is a busy mum of three, part-time paid in money and part-time paid in love. The other time she is SuperWoman. Chasing after small children, stopping fights, standing up to injustices, a lot of cooking and dashing off to school in a tearing hurry take up most of her time. And then there’s the washing! After studying psychology for a number of years (BA Psyc) Emma cannot help herself but analyse the way things are in an attempt to understand the world.