Parentgood: Soup’s On!

Well, I'm no Bootsy...

The wife and I eat a wide variety of foods and enjoying trying new things. The kids... do not. While the young one is amiable enough to at least try sticking something in his mouth for awhile, they older one has a deadly fear of anything palate expanding.

We've heard the parts about slowly introducing new foods and the "it takes fifteen times" or whatever the number is, but we've blown past that number awhile ago. We don't force plate cleaning, but at least to try everything. Minds have been made up though, and every sample is immediately panned. For vegetables, corn is the one acceptable one. He's finally resigned to the fact that any tacos he have will have a nominal amount of lettuce. That's really about it.

It's funny because there are a couple things he happily shoves in his mouth that I absolutely loathe. For example, natto. He freaking loves it and I can barely even stand the sight of the stuff. Nor the smell. Nor the texture. It's the one thing he can lord over me. "Come oooooon, dad, try it!" he teases as he waives those foul smelling slime nuggets in my face...

I've finally mostly hit the point where what we make for dinner is what we've having. Eat it or don't. I still try to be somewhat accommodating. As you can so from my finely crafted cuisine, I don't think anything there is too crazy. Gotta find a middle ground somewhere I guess.

Are there any strategies that you've found that have been helpful? Do you try to sneak in as many vegetables into things as I do? I'm still working on ways to expand the palate. I'm sure we're doing something wrong here, but maybe it's not too late to correct the course (well, that probably applies to this whole parenting enterprise).

30 thoughts on “Parentgood: Soup’s On!”

  1. 3 of my kids will try most things, like a good variety of things, and will eat whatever we're having, in some form or another.

    1 of my children sometimes gets panic-attack level scared by food he is convinced he doesn't like, whether new or familiar. This child sometimes gets peanut butter and jelly because he's clearly suffering, and that's going to provide some relief (and also nourishment).

  2. This is a timely topic. The Poissonnière alternates periods of exploration with periods of very regimented preferences, and it can get a guy down. I’ve tried to involve her in cooking things I think she’d enjoy preparing, and that has brought limited success. But I haven’t figured out much beyond that and exploiting her love for watching J. Kenji López-Alt’s videos on YouTube. (NB: Kenji just published a children’s book out on the theme of exploration, but it’s geared toward younger readers.)

    The one thing we’ve pretty clearly determined is that texture is huge. Soft-textured stuff seems to really gross her out, to the point that she gags on things when she takes the obligatory trial bite. She’s managed to push beyond it for some foods, but not others that are essentially the same. Mashed potatoes are fine, but mashed sweet potatoes? Gag her without the spoon.

    1. Yeah, my son really struggles with texture. He'll eat raw vegetables that are crunchy no matter how blah they are because it feels good in his mouth. He eats a whole carrot and whole stalk of celery each day, not to mention raw bell peppers, raw pea pods, pickles. But cook any of those things and he gags. The only things he'll eat that aren't crispy are treats and PB&J.

      1. Texture is a big joke between me and my wife. Our oldest has some really random texture hang-ups when it comes to chicken nuggets and tenders and will start going into way too much detail and I'm like "I've got it, stop talking, we won't buy that kind again"

        But I'm not one to talk, I can't stand the texture of most fish and cooked vegetables so I don't eat them.

  3. Today's Lunch SelectShow
  4. We met with a pediatric nutritionist because the Justice will routinely go a day or two without eating. The main messages we got were to serve everything family style (so she has control over what goes on her plate)* and to not encourage/acknowledge/talk about her eating at all. That definitely helped a little, but she's still quite stubborn. Somehow she weighed in at the 64th percentile this morning, so who knows where her caloric intake comes from...

    *We decide what's for dinner, but she's in charge of whether and how much of what we put out gets eaten

    1. Yeah, Rick barely eats anything it seems, but his most recent checkup still has him at high-90s in height, mid-70s in weight (Pete's been riding that same wave for years now). I also don't where he's getting his nutrition, but he still looks beefy enough so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

  5. This is something we get to deal with in multiple ways. We have this weird, shifting Venn diagram of what they want and will eat for dinner.

    We had chicken last night with a light lemon sauce, some breading, and parsley. Another version was made with only some parsley and I think some leftover sauce in the pan. The oldest fully rejected it because it was too wet. I tried to help tailor it to what he wanted but I don't think we had much chance after his initial rejection. He needs his chicken unseasoned and dry. He has no problem with salad though.

    I didn't even bother with the middle. He's stubborn on what he eats but at least doesn't have panic attacks. Dinner a few days ago was ice cream and chips. I'm sure he gets half of his calories from dessert, Cheerios, and various chip options. Unsurprisingly, he's the slightest of the family.

    The youngest might be the most adventurous, but in his own ways. He now regularly has raw Pinto or black beans from the can. Refuses to eat Cheerios though. No cheese but demands his nachos have cheese.

    And if we're being fully honest, I get it because I'm the same. I've spent the last 15-plus years trying to expand what I'll eat but I bet I top out at 25% of most restaurant menus.

  6. Great topic. If I said I had the magic answer, I would be lying.

    I think I have shared before that when The Boy was 4, one of his buddies convinced him that Tomatoes Were Gross, and not to be eaten in any form. He also had some sort of sensory thing, where he tried to insure that Foods Did Not Touch One Another. No sauce on anything. He even tried to ask for a different utensil for each food on his plate (his mother drew the line on that one).

    In contrast, The Girl was my adventurous omnivore. She would happily try almost anything.

    We instituted a "Two-bite Rule." No clean-plate club nonsense, but we were pretty insistent on always trying everything on the plate. It was the source of tears at times, but we held pretty firm.

    As the kids grew up, their palates and demands changed. The Girl went vegetarian, then vegan. Those were tough years, but it caused me to build a broad repertoire of meat- and dairy-free dishes.

    Now, the Boy is a freakin' foodie. He snapchats us almost nightly with pictures of whatever he has made for dinner, and he eats everything. The Girl has emerged out of her strict vegan days and now eats dairy and selected animal proteins (mostly from creatures with, uh, minimal brain sophistication, so still no meat), and has become a very creative cook.

    So, mostly, the lesson is, you have less control than you think, but if you can be gently persistent, they will eventually develop broad palates.

    1. mostly from creatures with, uh, minimal brain sophistication, so still no meat

      Krusty: There aren't going to be any more ribwiches. The animal we made them from is now extinct.
      Homer: The pig?
      Otto: The cow?
      Krusty: You're way off. Think smaller. Think more legs.

    2. So, mostly, the lesson is, you have less control than you think, but if you can be gently persistent, they will eventually develop broad palates.

      Oh, I was the picky-est eater of all time. I would have gagged at the notion of eating spring rolls with miso marinaded tofu as dinner (spoiler alert - that's what I cooked and ate for dinner).

      Now, in defense of my younger self, tomatoes are the spawn of the devil. Tomato sauce can go eff itself. Come at me.

      1. i was picky-ish, and yeah, i eat plenty now i wouldn't have believed then. however, i had the same view on tomatoes. i'm not eating them straight like apples or anything, but there showing up in more and more of my dishes. raw even!

          1. in season, we would have POUNDS of sliced tomatoes with dinner every night when I was a kid. My mom actually peeled the damn things (because my dad is a delicate flower), which must have been a nightmare for her.

            Anyway, I would sometimes eat so many that the roof of my mouth would get raw from the acids. Mmmm, beefsteak tomatoes from the garden!!!

            1. We also ate tomatoes from our garden by the pound growing up. Sliced with with salt and pepper. To this day, still one of my favorite things. And in “the weird dad eating habits”, mine used to sprinkle sugar on his sliced tomatoes. Son of Mad, indeed.

      2. In Northern MN when I was young, fresh green beans were not an option. We had canned beans. I hated them and gagged on them.

        We were expected to clean our plates. I would add peanut butter and jelly to my green beans in order to be able to eat them (or hide them under the table).

        Now I love them (fresh) especially haricot vert, even the yellow ones.

        1. I do remember frozen green beans as a kid. Canned were only for 3-bean salad (green, wax and kidney).

          Frozen green beans, frozen peas, frozen spinach (my favorite by far).

  7. Newbish has gotten better about it, but he's still pretty picky. One thing that helped this summer was his extreme excitement about our garden. He made it a goal of his (mostly unprompted by us) to try everything in it (peppers excepted). He loved green beans, liked rutabagas, and didn't like sugar snap peas....but he tried everything.

    That's opened the door a bit, but he still has his weird aversion to sauce (pizza is a no go, because the school pizza has too much sauce on it, which alerted him to the fact that ALL pizza has sauce on it). I'm still calling it a win.

  8. This old blog post is relevant.

    Meat is relatively easy as long as it isn't prepared in some "weird" way. Like, last week I made chicken Tikka masala and I just got a bag of chicken nuggets for the kids, because eff it, I wanted chicken Tika masala. They both love fish (especially my son and especially if it's salmon), so I try to make that as much as possible.

    Vegetables, on the other hand. My daughter isn't too bad about it. She'll at least try things and had some veggies she really likes. And if I've made a side dish she doesn't like, we always have some strawberries, or something, around for her. My son is quite small for his age and picky as hell. It's pretty frustrating. I've kind of just given up, though. I figure eventually he'll get less picky so I just need to do whatever the hell I can to get him to eat something right now.

    1. I know it's not really acceptable to reference the Jello Pudding Guy anymore (Because Rape), but he did have some insightful things to say about parentgooding. Basically, it's your job to keep them alive to adulthood.

          1. So there is a couple that lives next door to me and they have a white german shepherd. My daughter and this woman's two girls were allegedly taunting this dog one night (they put it outside on a leash). The woman who owns the dog came over and told me about the taunting, so I called my daughter in. At first I started lecturing her about doing it, but then noticed she was really nervous and clearly afraid of something so she told me the woman had told them "You don't want this dog getting off its leash" and "This dog is not a pet, its a guard dog, and he won't give cuddles." Which.... you don't say shit like that to 9 year olds. So I went over there and gave her a piece of my mind (with lots of cussing, ngl), and my wife called the police.

            So, to my comment. While waiting for the police, we were out talking to the parents of the other two girls as well as another neighbor (our now former daycare provider) who has a Ring on their door and lives across the street from this dog. I didn't see the video, but the other mom believed it clearly showed the kids taunting while my wife says its inconclusive. Anyway, I was still pretty incensed and was telling them if there is any chance that dog can get off that leash, those people better get a big effing chain for it. The other two moms were trying to say it isn't their responsibility and the kids would be at fault for "taunting" the dog, which is absolutely incorrect. My wife asked the mom of the other two girls if she'd think differently if it had attacked them and she said "no, they would have deserved it." I said I couldn't believe what I was hearing, said it was bullshit and stormed back inside telling my wife to let me know when the cops came so I could talk to them. Haven't talked to those neighbors since.

            This is a 70 lb german shepherd, so she clearly doesn't think her job is to keep her kids alive.

  9. My youngest child is very thoughtful when it comes to animals and pigs in particular, so we've eliminated pork-based products from our menus. His thinking is evolving and now isn't sure he wants to eat chickens or cows either, so it might get pretty interesting when it comes to meal planning.

    I found Impossible meat at Target yesterday and decided to give them a try and to my surprise he didn't make a comment about how "these aren't your best burgers, daddy" like he did when trying Beyond Meat or when a regular burger got cooked beyond medium. After telling him it was made from plants, he said that he liked it even more and wants us to have them instead of regular burgers.

    His willingness to try new things is decreasing though, that's going to have to change if we need to look for meat alternatives.

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