What Makes Kids ‘Fussy Eaters’?

What Makes Kids ‘Fussy Eaters’?

I was just standing at the kitchen sink, doing the washing up (I do most of my best thinking whilst washing dishes!), and I was marvelling at how diverse Sausage is when it comes to her eating habits, compared to a lot of kids her age who are super fussy eaters. This week alone, she’s eaten a chicken biryani, a homemade lasagna, a three-bean stew and a roast dinner, including carrots, greens and baby sprouts, not to mention a whole punnet of strawberries and half a bunch of grapes.

It got me to wondering how many other two-and-a-bit year olds eat as well as Sausage does, is she unique in this, or are others so willing to try new things?

I know when I was a kid I was terribly fussy. My Mum always says that I was a great eater as a baby, and then got fussier and fussier as I got older. It got to a point where I was so unwilling to eat, and such a thin child, that her and my Dad devised a plan to get me to eat. This plan involved my Dad dressing up in a big black cape and Snood and pretending to be the man from this children’s home, come to take me away if I didn’t eat my stew.* It sounds over-the-top, but I can understand that desperation of trying to get your kid to do something which is for their own good (with Sausage it’s an aversion to any medicine, which can be a real challenge.)

I went through many years of fussy eating, until something in me changed and I started to try new things. These days I’m pretty good. I know what I like, but I will try new things and one of my biggest pet-hates is people who say “I don’t like it” without even trying it.

I owe a lot of my new-found sense of adventure with food to my Husband. He was raised in a household where you ate what you were given, and he credits his multi-faceted palate to this. He also has a German grandmother, which means that bratwurst, sauerkraut, rye bread and other delights were standard fayre on holidays and special occasions.

We’ve tried hard to maintain diversity in Sausage’s diet, and so far, it seems to be paying off. Don’t get me wrong, she’s going through a stage at the moment which means that if you were to ask her what she wanted for every meal, her answer would undoubtably be “sausage” (hence the name), but we get around this by giving her Quorn sausages most of the time, and regular sausages once in a while, just so that she isn’t eating her own bodyweight in pork and breadcrumbs on a weekly basis! There’s also a psychological aspect to certain things. For instance, I mentioned earlier that she ate Brussels sprouts with her roast…but only after we told her that they were big peas. Also, with the three-bean stew, she took her first bite with her eyes, as she sometimes does, and decided, before tasting, that she wasn’t interested. However, as soon as I told her that is was a “baked bean curry stew” (three things she loves), she changed her mind. But she isn’t afraid to try things, and that’s what I really admire.

But all this leaves me wondering, what makes children fussy eaters? Does it lie with the childs reticence to try new things, or is it on the parents for not encouraging their kids to try new tastes and textures? Why do some parents seem reluctant to broaden their kids’ culinary horizons?

However you look at it, there’s no denying it that a diverse palate will broaden a persons horizons in many ways, from making foreign travel easier and more authentic, when trying out local delicacies, to  the wonderous experience of trying a new and mind-blowing flavour, which will change the way you think about food forever. So go on, lets your kids try something new. You never know, they might just surprise you.

*Please don’t judge my Mum for this, it was out of utter desperation to get a deathly pale child to eat a meal. (See…)She was young and I’ve suffered no ill-effects since…Although the time that she and my Aunt played Health Inspectors and told me that they’d have to condemn and burn down my toy market stall may have caused some mental issues….!

3 year old me, one of those "fussy eaters".

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