Friday, February 25, 2011

Daddy, it's tastes like sunshine!

When it comes to healthy eating habits, my son and my daughter are nearly polar opposites. While my daughter will try and eat anything (including the dog food we put out for Tucker the family pet), my son’s first response to eating a new food is, “No thank you.” When pushed a little further, he will typically say, “I don’t like it.”

“But son, you haven’t even tried it yet.”

In a matter of fact response, he’ll say, “I know, but I don’t like it.”

When forced to try new foods, my wife and I have the pleasure of experiencing front row seats to a Greek tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. First, we get the crunched up face, the squinted eyes, the trembling hands, and the low groan as he lifts the food towards his mouth. Once the spoon holding the terrible poison we are forcing our son to ingest hits the inside of his mouth, we get the full body seizure, followed by the uncontrollable gag reflex. While the first few times we found this to be quite entertaining, even asking for the occasional encore and considering signing him up for drama classes and auditioning him for child acting roles, the novelty soon wore off as each bite of his food was like a three act play and a simple dinner could drag out for an hour or more.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as he comes by these behaviors honestly. I was not the most adventurous eater as a child. I had a similar response to foods I didn’t like, especially spinach and beets. In fact, beets were my least favorite with their disgusting red/purplish juice bleeding all over my plate, trying to invade my macaroni and cheese (one food I loved). I would build a macaroni wall to stem the flood of beet juice, sacrificing a handful of tasty macaroni to save the greater population. My mother will tell you that there is still an outstanding “cold case” in my family that alleges that I once murdered a fern whose pot was positioned just a bit too close to my spot at the dinner table. When my mother wasn’t looking, I’d allegedly hide chunks of whatever food I refused to eat at the base of the plant, eventually killing the plant and stinking up the kitchen with rotten meats and vegetables. I’d remind everyone to reserve judgment as we operate within a legal system of “innocent until proven guilty”. Thankfully, the evidence was destroyed before DNA testing came into existence.

Nonetheless, you can imagine our surprise by a recent comment my son made about a new food he tried when, with a smile on his face, he gave the creative description, “it tastes like sunshine.” After the daily drama we witness when trying new food, I thought our son was sure to be an actor, but after that type of literary description, he might be a writer (at least the food industry may consider using him as a consultant to describe their products for advertising purposes). You can predict my disappointment when I found out the food he was describing as having the flavor of the sun was a yellow cream Oreo cookie.

Our pediatrician once told us that exposure to new foods is the key to getting children to like a diverse and healthy diet. In fact, I read one study that said it takes a child an average of 14 exposures to a new food before they actually enjoy the taste of that food. Well, if it takes 14 tickets to the drama I described above, I’ll pass. I’ll try one act of the Ryerson food drama and then I’ll pass him the plate with the Sunshine Oreo’s!

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