Raising good eaters

kidThe NYX magazine section a few weekends ago focused on the question “what should children eat”.  To some it might seem like an absolutely ridiculous question but to others it is a real concern.  This could be a stretch but I believe that children who are good eaters generally come from a family of good eaters.

There is no doubt that we all have different taste buds and there are just some things that do not taste good but in general it is about being exposed to tastes and textures from early on.  Mark Bittman wrote an article in the magazine about how him and his wife raised their two daughters and although I was not writing a cookbook as he was when raising our kids we basically did what they did.  We ate everything and there was never this conversation of us begging them to try something because we swear it tastes good.  They ate what I gave them and if they were unsure at least they would try it.

Whatever I made for dinner we all ate.  I was not a short-order chef.  If I was making a leg of lamb with a greek salad or a curry noodle soup or a chicken in the pot then that is what we all ate for dinner.  We didn’t do chicken fingers and frozen pizzas.  Sure I kept string cheese and some of those packaged products that kids love to eat for a snack but in general I made cookies and served a healthy meal.  They knew nothing else and were always amazed when their friends came over.  BTW, I converted many of their friends by just giving them what we were eating and prodding them to try it.

When Emily was about 13 months we have a picture of here sitting in a high chair at my Mom’s house with a stalk of broccoli in her hand chowing down.  I remember the moment quite clearly.  She just kept eating the stalks.  My Grandmother was still alive and was not only amazed at the eating frenzy but concerned she was putting away way too much broccoli.  She obviously liked it.

I even remember going to Barcelona with Josh when he was ten and the people at every restaurant were absolutely blown away with what he was eating and with what he ordered.  One place brought him out a few desserts on the house to acknowledge what he ate.  It was hilarious and the chatter among the wait staff.

Fast forward, all of our kids cook and bake.  They all eat about anything except for a few things here and there because they just don’t enjoy them.  They eat healthy and certainly enjoy a good meal.  Food is an integral part of our family life.  So in regards to the question what should kids eat I believe that they should eat everything and taste everything as soon as they can.  Don’t treat them as kids but as another mouth at the table.  Otherwise you could end up with picky eaters for life.