This is the journal I am keeping about our “health(ier) eating boot camp.” Feel free to read along!
Wednesday, July 9
One thing that Dr. Kennedy mentioned in her book is that she does not encourage parents to focus on getting their children to eat foods they truly detest. She described it as the “liking of food” being on a scale of 0 – 5. A 5 is when you just love, love, love a food and a 0 is when it is the worst thing ever. She points out that most food is at neither extreme but rather falls somewhere in the middle. If we only give our children foods that are 5’s then their diets will be too limited. So, there is a definite need to encourage them to eat foods they may not love or even like very much so that they have a healthy variety of foods in their diet. But when a food is at a 0 then her recommendation is to not require them to eat it at all. They should still be able to have a healthy and varied diet even without eating these foods.
For me, a food that falls at 0 on the scale is olives. I remember that when I was in High School I wanted to like both olives and mushrooms because whenever I ordered a pizza with my friends or other group, most people wanted those items to be on the pizza. I was kind of a shy person, so I found it unpleasant to constantly request that these items be left off part of the pizza. But I disliked both of them enough that I did it anyway. I remember telling myself if I could just learn to like them that I wouldn’t have to speak up like that anymore, so I tried eating them several times in the hopes that I would get used to the taste. This actually worked with the mushrooms, and I eat them sometimes now of my own choosing. But not with olives. I just cannot make myself like them even the tiniest bit! So, when my kids really dislike food, believe me, I understand how they feel.
Since I’ve been encouraging my kids to eat many different foods these past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to observe that some foods that my kids have disliked in the past are actually farther up the scale than I had realized. But other foods remain very close to that 0.
One of these foods is pesto. They were discussing pesto the other day, and were saying how much they dislike it (although truthfully, I think I’ve only had them try it once in their lifetime). I told them that I had no plans to require them to eat it. My personal reason was partly the level of dislike that they felt for it combined with the fact that it is not a common food to serve in our culture.
The cabbage I served for lunch yesterday also seems to fall into this category. I actually thought that it might, which is why I felt so brave serving it, but I wanted to give them a chance to try it, rather than decide for them that they don’t like it. One child stated that he would be willing to forego dessert rather than eat it in the future, and another child asked very politely if I could “please promise to never serve cooked cabbage again.”
Another type of food is anything with cheese (especially melted) or a creamy sauce. The problem here is that not requiring them to eat it wipes out a whole category of food, not just one thing. We hardly ever have casseroles or grilled cheese anymore, and when I make gravy I serve tend to serve it on the side. On the one hand, our diet is probably a bit healthier as a result because these foods tend to be high in fat. On the other hand, these are foods that are commonly served in our culture, and the possibility is very high that my kids will be served them by other people when they are missionaries or otherwise invited over for dinner. Plus, sometimes I want to make them!
So this is where your opinion comes in. What do you think? Based on this admittedly limited information, do you think it is better to encourage my kids to eat the foods I described above, or give them a break and focus my efforts on the many other food options that exist? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below! (Note: you do not have to be a regular reader to participate. Any thoughts are welcome!) Thanks!