The Food Paradox

What kid doesn’t have some food they just absolutely won’t eat?

For most kids, it’s foods like liver, spinach, and cauliflower that cause dramatic wailing and gagging at the dinner table. No amount of persuasion and bribery can get them to eat that stuff.

My own childhood culinary nightmares included squash, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. Those three items just happen to be the last holdouts from a long list of foods that I eventually grew to appreciate.

Tomatoes, onions, zucchini, cabbage, olives, broccoli. Hated them as a kid, love them now. At some point, perhaps in college, my tastebuds grew up. I’m actually kind of surprised at the wide variety of things I’ll eat these days. Pretty much anything, except for the still-hated squash, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms.

My kids aren’t any different than others their age. They have their “Will Not Eat Even If Starving” lists. Neither of them will touch a mushroom, and I long ago stopped wasting asparagus on them.

But there is a strange paradox with their likes and dislikes.

They’ll smother everything with ketchup, but they shrink in fear from the tiniest bit of tomato.

Onions are despised, while onion rings are a delight.

I’m so thankful both kids love broccoli, but only when steamed. Never raw.

On the other hand, raw carrots are a favorite daytime snack. But cooked carrots are tasteless mush.

A spinach salad gets pushed away, but at Subway they ask the sandwich guy for extra spinach on their turkey subs.

Iced tea is a summer treat. Hot tea is a foul concoction.

Breakfast sausage is a great way to start the day, while Italian sausage is a great way to ruin a pizza.

I point this all out to my kids, but they just shrug their shoulders at the contradictions. I don’t worry about it. They eat well, and what they won’t eat now I’m sure will appeal to their palate as they mature. It actually took me many years into adulthood before I would willingly eat a tomato. I mean, it was just a few years ago that I stopped picking them out of my sandwich. Now I love them.

My kids can keep hating brussels sprouts, though. Those things are nasty.

5 thoughts on “The Food Paradox

  1. When I was a kid, my mom served lima beans as a side dish. I refused to try one. But I couldn’t get dessert unless I at least tried one lima bean. It got about half way into my mouth when I ralphed onto my plate. Haven’t had a lima bean since. Oh…and I got dessert.

  2. My daughter hates meat! She’ll eat chicken, but that is IT. If she even THINKS it’s meat, no way. She’s not quite four, and she’s been like this her entire life. I’m kinda worried about her protein intake, but… oh well, right? ;)
    Texture seems to be an important part of most people’s food-pickiness. Mushiness is a big deal for my husband – eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms being the worst offenders.

  3. I ate everything my mother put on my plate from the moment I could eat things that appeared on a plate. My daughter followed in my footsteps until she was somewhere between two and three. She still will try anything, and eats a couple of vegetables, chicken and fish, most every kind of fruit, and most pasta based dishes. My son, on the other hand, eats very little. Nothing is a sure bet. Pasta, yogurt, and chicken nuggets (and really only the chicken nuggets from Aldi) are usually accepted. Occasionally he’ll eat pancakes, raisins, edamame, or blueberries. Rarely he’ll eat a piece of banana or a piece or two of apple (but won’t touch applesauce). He recently took a liking to trail mix, but he picks out everything but the bits of chocolate and the peanuts.

    As far as brussel sprouts, as a kid I ate them but hated them and covered them in whatever I had on hand to obscure the taste. A year ago or so, however, I ran across a recipe for brussel sprouts (essentially frying them in salt and oil and sprinkling in parmesean cheese), and now I make them all the time. They are good. My wife even eats them and likes them, and she never foresaw such a thing happening in her lifetime. So, I guess you never know what will happen over time.

  4. It’s weird sometimes too. I won’t eat a cucumber if my life depends on it (nasty vile excuse for a veggie) but Lukas loves em. Then again, he won’t eat mashed potatoes. Mashed Potatoes! What’s up with that? I would blame his mother, but she loved mashed potatoes too.

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