The path that brought me to this little space called <the taste experiment> has not been an easy one ..it has been a slow going process and had it not been for the little inspirations along the way ..I would have thrown in the towel! ..well in truth the towel quite often got thrown down literally and figuratively!
When my dear little child first began to refuse anything and everything that I lovingly prepared and would place before him it brought me to my knees ..confusion in motherhood seems to be a constant struggle for me ..when to do this or that, how, how much, how much is too much? Being a mother comes with it a constant barrage of paths to choose! The concerns that I had with my little boy's slowly decreasing acceptance in the foods I would offer him seemed to always be met with the same sort of conclusion ..he is a picky eater! Whether I was talking to friends, family, or any random stranger who would listen to my dilemma!
I am by nature a food lover ..that being said I have never been a consistent gourmet foods producing-meals-at-home every-night kind of gal ..and although I do have a strong food pedigree being that I attended Culinary School at the ripe young age of 18 ..and then went on to work in locally renowned bakeries, chocolate shops and restaurants carrying the title of Pastry Chef as I went along, Yes I have had a lot of time in the company of food .. but not a lot of time! When I would get home from work ..be it 2am or 11pm or 6pm I was usually tired and ..just tired! ..and if I hadn't gotten fed at work then take out was the most often chosen option.
So while being a few steps ahead in the knowledge of food preparation within the professional food industry ..I am actually quite a few steps behind in the rhythm and know-how of running a "normal" households daily family meals ..having grown up in a very poor, divorced and highly dysfunctional family I did not have the influence of the consistent and simple family rhythm instilled in me to carry into my mothering ..and as the tides changed and I became a mother the ideals and tools I brought with me were a lot of magazine inspired "ideas" and grand culinary notions of all of the intricate and special foods that I would share with my child ..and then -as I could now have predicted in hindsight- everything began to crumble and fall apart and the beautiful grand meals that I would prepare for my family that once filled my imagination crumbled away like a mighty kingdom that existed hundreds of years ago ..I did not know that it was the simple that was the most important, it was the simple pleasures of eating that was the foundation to rebuilding that old castle albeit a less grand yet all together more beautiful one!
When my little guy was born my husbands coworker gave me the book "Sprout Right" by Lianne Phillipson-Webb... the writer and professional nutritionalist encourages the use of fresh fruit and vegetable purees along with mothers milk or formula and discourages the use of baby cereal-Pablum until the age of one ..as the nutrients from the fresh purees and milk and protein introduction are all the baby needs for complete nutrition ..when I read this book it all made sense to me ..this was a great way to develop my little boys palate early on ..but I didn't know that that was an important part of my babies food training ..and the book was written only as a nutritional instructive not a development of taste and appreciation of food instructive ..as my little baby started self feeding as soon as he developed his pincer grab and was able to eat Cheerios I was so excited that I didn't have to feed him anymore! Woo! ..and he was doing pretty good at that point he would happily eat vegetable soup and I had figured out that I could start him first with a healthy vegetable either peas or carrots or cauliflower or butternut squash ..and I could leave his little meal before him and let him go at it and it was great!
.. but what I did not know then is that by letting him self feed so early I was giving up all of my control and my strong willed little boy was on the path to taking over ..
..and take over he did! Sometime before or after 18 months (I cannot recall the exact age he digressed) he started to slowly eat less and less of his much loved buttery steamed cauliflower ..and then his peas ..spinach purée ..and my anxiety meanwhile began to slowly increase ..I started trying to pinpoint what his "favorite" foods were because of the fears of him starving and not gaining enough weight had been ingrained in me from his infancy! So ..as time went on and he entered the "terrible twos" his favorite foods list decreased to a grand finale of : 1-Pasta 2-maybe a bite of yellow Cheddar Cheese 3-Oatmeal 4-Goldfish Crackers 5-Pretzels 6-Applesauce! these were my menu options (aside from an occasional bite of teriyaki salmon which out of my extreme fear that he would grow to hate it like he had everything else, I rarely offered him more)
Being of the Christian Faith I have always believed that God created this beautiful earth and everything that is in it and that we are to be thankful for what we have been given ..the beautiful fish of the Sea ..the animals that roam the earth ..the vegetation that grows from the ground ..and how can I teach this to my dear child, how can I impress this thankfulness and appreciation of what he has been blessed with, if he seems to despise it so? Yes I was told not to worry that it would only be a matter of time and that someday he would eventually eat more of a varied diet ..but when? when would we be able to make all of those lovely meals I imagined us eating together as a happy family? how many years would it take???
The simple answer to that question was that that would happen only with change! ..and since a change was the only option, my next question was how?
One day while listening to a radio show -between my little guys screams- I remember hearing about a lady who had moved her family to France -between more of my boys screams- I heard discussions of picky eaters and kids who eat everything ..I remember almost not writing down the name of the book because frankly I was tired of reading children's advice books ..and it was one of those moments you look back and are glad that you were led to do that thing that you almost didn't do that started the ball rolling on CHANGING everything!
After a few months I finally remembered to check out "that book" from the library ..I wasn't going to buy it in case it was a dud! That book .."FRENCH KIDS EAT EVERYTHING" by Karen le Billon took me a loooong time to read and after checking and rechecking it out and paying late fines my dear husband finally purchased it for me ..and although the book uncomfortably challenged all of what I knew thus far about feeding my child ..I also loved it! ..and that is where the journey began ..
>>>In hindsight these are some areas I would hit a do over if I could <<<
<I would have fed him myself longer and only given him one option to feed himself, a vegetable (I think this just might have been THE most important one! ..and my floor would have been cleaner!!!>
<I wouldn't have been afraid so-afraid of him choking to give him chunks of tougher meats and textures because he didn't have back teeth!>
<I wouldn't have assumed that if he spit out his red pepper purée once that that meant that he didn't like it!>
<I would have kept feeding him ALL of the fruits and vegetables that I had him try as a baby AND pushed to make that list longer even if at some of the meals he refused it>
<I wouldn't have stuck with just a few dishes that I knew he liked instead I would have made each meal different ..vegetable soup for lunch three days in a row? um No!)>
<I would have made sure that at dinner we always sat down together as a family>
<I would have protected the atmosphere of our meals and kept it a an enjoyable + positive experience>
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"...foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving ..."
[1 Timothy 4:3]