I had to laugh when I came across Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton, because for no explicable reason, I sometimes say to myself “I’m a hungry monkey.” Usually when I’m hungry. I also connected to the book because I consider myself a recovering picky eater. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties before I willingly began eating beets, greens, squash, peppers, and eggplant, and developed an interest in trying new foods. I spent several years as a vegetarian somehow, surviving mostly on grilled cheese and salad (made up of lettuce and carrots). Truth be told, it was a new boyfriend who essentially shamed me into exploring vegetables, and for that I will be forever grateful. “Why do you say you don’t like mushrooms,” he asked me, “when you eat them all the time?”
I also have to give some credit to my mother, who was of the “I cooked it, you’ll eat it” philosophy of dinner. She had no pity as I held my nose to swallow zucchini, or repeated “tastes like sugar, tastes like sugar, tastes like sugar” while chewing asparagus. In my defense, she did go through a rather extreme tofu-making phase from which it is a miracle that I recovered. “Deep fried” was the magical cure for that one. Truthfully, though, I believe the tough love approach worked on me in the end, and now I am a complete farmers’ market junkie.
Ideas about parenting may have changed since I was a kid, and certainly there is a plethora of information to help if you see your children heading down the picky path. Give one of these a try:
- My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, by Nancy Tringali Piho. (coming soon!)
- Just Two More Bites! Helping Picky Eaters Say Yes to Food, by Linda Piette.
- Eating: 99 Tips to Bring You Back from the End of Your Rope, by Michelle Kennedy.
- Take the Fight Out of Food: How to Prevent and Solve Your Child’s Eating Problems, by Donna Fish.
- Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup, by Laura A. Jana and Jennifer Shu.