“I’d Really Like To Eat a Child” by Sylviane Donnio

Growing up in the 80’s, we had two kinds of food: local and seasonal. Everyone ate everything. Nowadays, kids have the most unusual foods from around the world, available all year round. And our children’s menu could not be more limited and monotonous.   Like in the previous post, I am not speaking for everyone. Luckily. But unfortunately, for a vast majority of the little people. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Naturally, it’s not about making children eat everything, but we all know that the more versatile their food, the healthier their bodies and smarter their brains. Besides, children’s selective eating habits  seem to be a curse for many parents, who out of hopelessness end up cooking mac-and-cheese every night. After all, a child needs to eat something, right? Well, yes, as long as that ‘something’ is healthy. So, what triggers this perplexing  fussiness and is there any cure for our fastidious eaters?

Let’s start off with the… parents. As far as the diet goes, our choices definitely influence those of our children. In other words, like parent, like child. Picky eaters don’t grow on trees, but they blossom in families with picky parents.  At the same time, the more adventurous the parents, the more experimental the children with regard to food. This is exactly how our son took to lamb kebab at the age of four. He watched his buddy-daddy, enjoy it. The trick wasn’t as effective with broccoli and green beans, though, so don’t count on 100% of effectiveness using this method. But neither does it mean that it comes with a snag. Children have a taste of their own and we should respect their opinion. As long as it is sensible, of course. Our son eats lots of veggies, so we don’t bug him about the few he skips.

But skipping doesn’t mean endless substituting. Nothing good comes from that. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many options spoil a good eater. Sometimes, waiting it out is the best remedy for a fussy child.

This is exactly what happened to a little crocodile.  Achilles was raised on a banana breakfast diet, enforced by his parents. But one day he just simply changed his mind. He really wanted to eat a child. His parents tried to talk him out of it and  offered other options, from a  hotdog to a chocolate cake, but all in vain. Finally,  Achilles got so weak and hungry that asked for a… banana. (in order to grow big enough to eat a child, but never mind)

Despite its morbid title, “I’d Really Like To Eat a Child” by Sylviane Donnio,  is a yummy treat for picky eaters and  easy eaters alike. This lively and amusing story, humorously illustrated by Dorothee De Monfreid, might also be a handy tool for the parents worrying about their children’s unhealthy eating habits. You definitely don’t want your children to starve, but nothing enhances appetite better than an empty tummy. Ask Achilles.

What’s For Dinner?

Isn’t it ironic! We spent half of the twentieth century inventing kitchen gadgets that would help us make cooking easier and faster, and now we just stopped using our kitchens all together. Naturally, I am not speaking for the whole wide world. Yet, the crowded eating venues, from bargain burger joints to high-end restaurants speak for themselves: our kids eat out a lot.   Of course, I am not against taking children out to eat. It is actually good for them. It is a great opportunity for children to get exposed to ethnic foods and table manners. This is how our son took to sushi and mastered the art of using chopsticks. Eating out can be an adventure, treat, something we do on vacation. What I am opposed though, is the new trend of frequently taking children out to the nearest family restaurant  for a family dinner. It must be good for them, right? After all the place has high chairs and mac-and-cheese on the kids’ menu.

What’s wrong with eating at home? With all the cook books, online recipes, stores open around the clock, one can fix a proper meal with minimal planning and non-existent cooking skills. And you don’t need ME to tell you that eating at home is HEALTHIER. We have a full control of what ingredients we use (organic meat vs. mystery meat), how we cook our meals (steaming vs. deep frying) or how much we put on our plates. Besides, the food is fresher and less processed. Children get to see a real tomato and apple instead of ketchup and apple sauce. Isn’t it what we want for our children?

Well, whatever you think about the health benefits of home cooking, the advantages of eating at home go far beyond nutrition:

1. Cooking at home  is a great way to engage the whole family. Children can set the table, empty the dishwasher, chop vegetables. If mom cooks, dad can do the dishes. It is an opportunity to chat about the day and plan the week, while helping each other.

2. Eating at home is more relaxing, even if it appears otherwiseNobody waits to grab your table, you don’t need to call the waiter just to get some water and you don’t have to feel embarrassed, when your baby starts crying half way through the meal.

3. Cooking at home teaches children to respect their food. It is so easy to be wasteful at the restaurant. The waiter will  take your plate away, even if you only nibbled on your meal. At home, throwing food away comes with some guilt, doesn’t it? Lucky those with dogs!

4. Eating at home means sharing the same meal. A limited menu is a great solution for fussy and picky eaters.

5. Cooking at home teaches children… cooking. It is not about raising another celebrity chef, but teaching them a vital life skill: taking care of their own meals later in life. It all starts with observing parents cooks, then helping parents cook and before you know it, they cook a dinner for you. Besides, cooking is a great way to develop creativity and perform experiments. What child doesn’t fancy that!

And last but not least,

Cooking at home is a great gift for your children. They will turn it into a precious memory. I still remember the flavor of my mom’s roasted potatoes or mouth watering pastries. The very thought of her cooking makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Think about it next time you take your children out for a bag of chicken nuggets.

I would rather take children to the grocery store. It is still cold in many parts of the world, so a cup of hot soup sounds good, doesn’t it? Why not to cook it together?

For a delicious recipe and great read, refer to my previous post: 70. “Soup Day” by Melissa Iwai

“Let Them Eat Cake” or Russian Rye?

I hope that everyone has digested their holiday treats by now, because this month I am hoping to provide some food for thought regarding eating habits of our children.

Food, just like clothes, school, or religion are choices that we, parents, make on behalf of our children. Therefore, we should make them responsibly. I think it’s pretty obvious that what and how we eat during our childhood directly affects our eating  habits later in life. Why should we punish our children with our bad decisions? At the same time, I do not believe we need to consult a dietician or study nutrition in order to do it right. To much contradictory advice that can become overwhelming. Feeding our children is not a rocket science. People have been doing it for centuries using just their common sense. Why wouldn’t we?

In the following weeks I’d like to discuss three topics connected with the broad subject of food and eating trends.

1. Home Cooking vs. Going Out to Dinner.

2. You Are WHAT You Eat. Picky Eaters vs. Whatever Eaters.

3.You Are HOW You Eat. Children’s Table Etiquette.

And as always, in order to support my arguments, I have some cute and useful picture titles to recommend.

Till the next post! It’s already cooking in my head.