Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Sales Job

I consider my son to be a good eater. He’s not truly picky except for a few things that he won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, a feeling to which I concede most people are entitled. But the fact remains that he is two and a half years old. So being very particular about certain things, especially food, has become par for the course. 

At daycare, I’m regularly floored when I hear that he ate foods like kafta and couscous salad or an omelette with feta cheese. Really? Seriously? I have come to realize that groupthink and peer pressure goes a long way in reinforcing good behaviour too! If all the kids are eating the omelette, so will my little guy. Thank goodness for this amazing phenomenon which also pushed my son to start napping like a civilized child. 

But at home? Things are a little different. If something on his plate just doesn’t look quite right, he pushes away the plate and proclaims “I don’t like it.” 

This has induced much frustration on our part, which often includes conceding to feeding him kid-friendly staples like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, frozen peas and/or corn and grilled cheese sandwiches. But lately, we decided there had to be a better way. Why shouldn’t we all eat the same, healthy, homemade meals? I know very well that he’ll like what we’re eating…if only he would try the damn thing! 

So we have tapped into our inner marketers and gotten creative. Now, many meals we eat have a very special name, like “Pirate Pie” (chicken pot pie, or shepherd’s pie…or anything that involves some kind of pie) or “Spiderman Souvlaki” or “Dragon-Fighter Soup” (that one is named for recent obsession with dragons). 

The first time I did this, the idea came to me on the drive home from daycare. I began talking about our special dinner and hyping it up all the way home. By the time we got to the dinner table, he was so excited he devoured his Pirate Pie and asked for more. 

Presentation is the other thing that really helps. If food is on any kind of stick, for example, it’s automatically more interesting. If there’s ketchup involved, all the better. Of course, we try to limit the ketchup, but occasionally we have managed to convince him that there’s ketchup in some meal, even if there was none, and he ate it up. Both literally and figuratively. 

I will admit that it’s exhausting giving my kid a sales job every time we sit down to have a meal together. But when pickiness strikes, the only defense is creativity! And melted cheese on top. But mostly creativity.

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