Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Great Picky Debate

For some reason, the idea for this post has been on my mind all day.

Okay, so most of you probably wouldn't consider this a great debate, but I am constantly trying to prove to others that it's not my fault that I'm picky and that I don't really want to be. In fact, I really wish I wasn't. It would save me a lot of trouble and it would be really nice to eat all of the things that look so yummy in pictures without gagging when I try to eat them. People apparently don't believe me. It seems that all of the not so picky eaters out there think that I'm just choosing to make life harder on myself and others that have to deal with my picky ways. I cannot begin to count the amount of arguments I have had with loved ones about this subject. Not to mention the nasty evil eyes and rude comments that have come flying in my direction my entire life.
Some might say it is a Nature vs. Nurture issue and most would probably say it is all about nurture. I am on a mission to prove that it is, indeed, mostly nature. I am not saying that nurture has nothing to do with it. I do believe that if I had been encouraged to try new and different foods as a child, even if I didn't like them, that I would be more open to trying new foods today.
I now have two children that have the ability to eat almost any food I might want to give them and here's where I attempt to prove my theory:

Nature, I believe, is the biggest factor in the food preferences of my children. My boys have the same parents, but have VERY different tastes. Ethan is my starch/carb baby. He apparently inherited his pickiness from me (that I inherited from my mom). He will not eat any vegetables except potatoes (at least none that I can think of right now) and the only fruits he will eat are bananas and peaches (only one time very recently on the peaches). He LOVES bread. He will eat ANY kind of bread as long as it doesn't have any "ketchup" (jam) on it. He loves chicken nuggets and PB&Honey sandwiches, but has recently stopped eating crust. Ethan likes just about any kind of pasta he has tried, and I think we share the same favorite restaurant, Olive Garden. Really, though, I think if I (and his body) let him, he would be perfectly happy with nothing but milk and juice. He's not even a big fan of sweets; he could definitely live without candy. Most of you are probably thinking, "well if that's all you ever give him, that's all he'll ever eat." I promise you, that's not all I ever give him. I have read multiple articles and such on how to feed picky eaters and have tried many of the "tricks". I offer him foods many, many times before I give up and there are some that I eat on a regular basis that have been put on his plate at least 50 times and he still refuses to eat them. I have tried letting him dip his food because "all kids love to dip, it's fun!", but Ethan hates all kinds of dip, even ketchup. I will persevere, but my luck is looking down. I always swore that I wouldn't raise picky eaters, but with Ethan I feel I have no choice.
Now, Spencer is my big eater. He inherited his appetite from his dad. He will eat ANYTHING. It is rare to find something that he doesn't like, and he will try any food that is offered to him. I can even get him to eat multiple bites of things that he obviously doesn't care for much. He'll just make faces and decide whether each bite should end up on his shirt or in his stomach. It usually ends up being about half and half. I offer (and have always offered) both of my kids most of the same foods and Spencer is always more eager to try new foods that Ethan ever has been. I actually think that the only reason I got Ethan to put a peach in his mouth last week is because he saw that Spencer was enjoying them. I'm hoping that this will become a new trend. We'll see. Today Spencer ate some tomato and some broccoli and enjoyed both. I was surprised, but so happy.

(I need to add that both of my kids did equally well with baby food. They both ate everything but the green stuff very well [except that Spencer didn't love cereal]. I think Ethan's problem with food now is mostly texture. Mine is, too.)

The moral of my story is that I didn't choose to be picky and neither did Ethan. Spencer didn't choose to love all foods either, he has just always been that way.
Also, to all of those out there that [think they] have to deal with my pickiness: Please stop trying to talk me out of my pickiness; I can't control my gag reflexes. And when we are trying to decide what restaurant to go to, please don't yell at me for being too picky to eat anywhere. When I say I don't want to go somewhere because I don't like the food, it's not any different from you saying that you don't want to go somewhere that you don't like. If somebody said to you, "that's where we're going, deal with it." you probably would, and so would I (and I have). If I can't eat because everything is gross then that's my problem. Stop making it yours and then blaming it on me. I never commanded the world (my family) to cater to my every food wish. I merely requested it, as would you.
Okay, I'm done!


gma dibb said...

I must stand in defense of Emily about trying to get Ethan to eat a bigger variety of foods. We have all tried to broaden his menu, but have had little success. He likes his grandpa's cooking but still refuses some foods.

Wendy said...

I'm with you, Emily. I have a picky 5 year old who defies all attempts to broaden his culinary experiences. He's had the same options as his sister who will eat almost anything. I definitely believe they come programmed this way!

(I'm really not a blog stalker...but a friend of Kimberlie's)

Denise said...

I reflect back on how difficult it was to feed Jordan when he was young. Rice was to be served plain, with no toppings (such as stroganoff) and pasta was served only with parmesan cheese.
Then, the mission came. Now, he is teaching me about new toppings for rice and pasta. He is so much fun to feed now compared to feeding him as a child.
Now comes the hate comments. I do believe the nurture outweighs nature. He would probably eat something he has never tried before if he was hungry enough.
Saying that, I would starve to death, I think, before eating a hot dog. Thank goodness it has never some to that. (You did say you wanted comments, right?)
I guess you just have to pick your battles, and as long as he is healthy, I certainly wouldn't make it a power struggle. I bet he will outgrow it.

mommyofthree said...

I'm so sorry that you can't eat what looks good to you. What a bummer. And, it's one thing to deal with it on your own, but with a picky child it is so much more frustrating. Miss S is our pickiest one. She always has been, and I was much better at offering her a variety at a young age than I was once the twins when they were little. And I think J will try anything at least once.

Megan said...

Cute post. As I am the opposite of a picky eater (although some textures do make me gag), I PRAY that my future children will not be picky eaters. You make a very good point with everything!

Josh said...

If Brooke were to define me by food, she wouldn't say picky or adventurous. She regularly calls me a "food snob." I had no idea.