A few months ago, a friend posted an article about the invention of the chicken nugget. I was horrified. I was ashamed.
In short, I learned that nuggets were invented because chicken breasts were fashionable to eat due to their lack of saturated fat in the 1980’s. Left with the tenders, companies invented the chicken nugget as a way to process the food. They successfully marketed said nuggets at kids, capitalizing on the success of the 1960’s cereal campaign.
Their campaign was more successfull than the mega-food industiries could have dreamed of. The food companies created a generation of kids who eat nothing but beige food; grilled cheese, pizza bagels, macaroni and cheese, plain pasta and chicken nuggets.
Patrick and I have been swept up by the Bizarre Food craze. We love sushi, and have enjoyed frog legs, snails, deer heart, jellyfish salad, and offals. It is shocking to think that our son is part of a generation of kids who will grow up eating food that is of a singular color and texture, while our own palates and tastes exponentially expand.
I had thought that we were doing a good job. When Jasper was first trying out food, he regularly enjoyed a wide range of food and regularly joined in on our family meals. He is a good eater. He has always loved a good brussel sprout, steak and squash. He can’t get enough olives and pickles.
But recently, I noticed that he was turning his nose up at meal time. Desperate to get something in his tummy before bed, we opted to let him have a cup of yogurt or a few crackers “if he just had one bite” of whatever we were all eating.
Dinner turned into a round of negotiations and pleas.
What happened to my good eater?
I turned back to the article, and was reminded that toddlers go through a developmental phase that includes choosing not to eat many foods. The writer of the article suggests not making a big deal of it, but not allowing other options.
This guy is not a pediatrician, or a nutritionist.
But he might be onto something.
I’m thinking about continuing to try to offer dinners with more stuff on the plate, and letting our kid decide what he does and doesn’t eat, but not allowing him to opt out of our family meal for a “beige food.”
I’m going to work make sure that there are proteins, fruits, vegetables and a balance of grains available for him each night, but I’m not going to attach a stigma to eating. I’m going to try to make sure that some of the foods he loves are available each night, and that they are foods filled with nutrients.
He is a healthy toddler who regularly eats more than enough calories throughout the day. He should have the right to decide what he does and doesn’t eat, but it is my job to make sure that he knows what’s out there. And isn’t beige.
This week, my kid had seconds of duck, and then mushrooms with a balsamic sauce. So, I’d say, we’re off to a good start.