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“Eat your vegetables.” As a kid, I dreaded hearing that, & if you’re like me, you dread having to say it if you have a child that is violently opposed to eating them.
And yes, I have one that’s violently opposed to eating them.
As a reformed picky eater, I get it. As a kid, I hated eating vegetables. My childhood:
Salad: In our house, salad was iceberg lettuce served with dressing. So basically, salad was dressing. That’s it. I didn’t even know there was any other kind. The first time I was served red-leaf lettuce at an aunt’s house, I was silently horrified. “Am I the only one seeing this?? This lettuce is ROTTEN!”
Broccoli: If it looks like a tree, it probably tastes as good as a tree, & I wasn’t taking my chances on eating tiny little trees. Chinese food? Pass the white rice. And the butter.
Corn: Meh. What’s the point?
Carrots: Decent until they were boiled into a near-gelatinous state (sorry, Mom. You tried.)
Spinach: Big ole’ NOPE. We only ate frozen packaged spinach (this was the 80’s, after all), & I couldn’t grasp why leaves were cooked into a wet, gloppy mush. And creamed spinach? Dear GOD, no. Cream: good. Spinach: bad. Mixing the two was basically ruining a perfectly good dairy product.
Mixed Vegetables: What.The.Hell. Waaaay too much going on in one side dish. A picky eater’s nightmare, & let’s not forget that they try to sneak those lima beans in there, too. Lots of fork dexterity required to avoid getting one of those bad boys in a veggie mouthful.
Peas: TRAUMA. I say trauma because for some reason, peas disgust me more than any other food alive. *cue instant gag reflex* I still remember sitting at the dinner table as a kid, being told I HAD to eat the peas, & trying to, & just gagging. I finally developed a swallow-them-whole-with-milk-sip routine, but not a pleasant dinner experience.
All I can say is, thank God for the family dog, who lived a good long life because he was fortified by the gallons of vegetables I sprinkled under the table for him when Mom wasn’t looking.
I grew out of picky eating, however, & after several years of being a vegetarian, I learned to both cook diverse vegetables and enjoy them. (Except peas. But my pea-past still haunts me… keep reading…)
I want my kids to appreciate vegetables, so I’ve exposed them to plenty in infancy, and cook them with virtually all meals. And almost every child, while not loving all vegetables, eats them regardless.
I said, “almost”.
Enter child #5.
#5 is a sweet, easygoing little lady. EXCEPT when it comes to vegetables.
She despises vegetables of any kind, including corn. (Corn? What’s to hate about corn?) And any time vegetables are served at dinner, which is any day ending in Y, #5 is ready to collapse from the sheer horror.
She “can’t!” eat them, so she claims, despite being the same child that used to eat CAT FOOD.
… and TV REMOTES
5 yr old: “This dinner tastes gross!”
…this coming from the same kid that once ate the tip off of our TV remote control…
— Six Pack Mom (@Six_Pack_Mom) August 26, 2016
…and WII REMOTES
We’ve had many frustrating battles over getting #5 to eat her veggies. Some helpful tips:
- Letting her help cook them: When #5 helps decide which veggies we have with dinner, she’s more likely to eat them.
- Small Portion: Serving her a little less than expected helps; she’s more likely to eat a small quantity than refusing a large amount.
- Growing Them: I’m not a big gardener, but I’ve grown a few veggies in a backyard container. I’ve found that if she helps to plant them & care for them, she’s more likely to eat them.
These tips have helped, but to show you that I understand what it’s like to deal with a picky eater, here’s proof that the struggle is real.
After dinner one night, I found string beans scattered under #5’s chair like confetti. Unfortunately for #5, however, we don’t have a dog. We have a cat that hates vegetables & hasn’t forgotten #5’s food-stealing, so no love there.
Another dinner with mixed vegetables (I know- I’m a total hypocrite!); after cheering her on, it appeared that she actually ate her small portion of veggies. I was so stoked! I say it “appeared” so, because on closer examination, I found THIS:
Then there were the peas…
First, an act of straight sabotage:
Finally, we found that just like her Mama, #5 has an innate gag reflex with peas. And yes, I filmed it, as proof for my own mother that it’s apparently genetic (excuse the poor video quality & #5’s post-tantrum hot mess; spontaneous filming)!
The bottom line? Don’t sweat it. I do what I can to encourage healthy eating, supplement with vitamins & hidden-veggie smoothies, yet know that like myself, their tastes may change dramatically as they get older.
Except maybe for peas…
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