Mother’s Day Dinner:
A perfect opportunity for every picky kids’ food issues to surface.
By Laura Cipullo, RD CED CEDRD CDN and Mom
For Mother’s Day, we went to Marc Forgione’s American Cut—a very fancy steak place. The décor was beautiful and masculine. The food—well, just incredible, as expected! Normally, I would not bring my kids to such an expensive restaurant but they are usually pretty cheap eaters. And it was Mother’s Day as well as our family’s celebration of my birthday which was the day before.
First, we were served an “everything” biscuit with vegetable cream cheese. The boys quickly grabbed the biscuits (despite all of the seeds on top) and took giant bites. And they both quickly realized they didn’t like what they were tasting! Not one bit! That was the end of their bread experience for the night. Meanwhile, I thought the biscuits were so delicious that I ate two!
There was absolutely nothing listed on the menu that my younger son Billy would eat—and, of course, the bread was no longer an option. But oh, there were French fries—something to save the meal! But I was only saved until the fries arrived at our table. They were large slices of potatoes—heavily salted and spicy. Billy did try them, but nope, they were just not his thing. As usual in a situation like this, he sat happily in his seat but ate nothing. We played “tic tac toe” and he loved the evening.
My older son Bobby had filet mignon. Now, I did not buy him his own steak, rather I know he eats only an ounce of steak at a time so my husband cut him a slice of filet from his dish. Bobby noticed that the meat was softer than usual. He asked if it was a different steak. I explained that it was filet mignon—a very good, very tender cut of meat, thus very soft.
So I watched Bobby performing his normal routine when chewing steak and even chicken. He munched on a bite for what seemed like five to ten minutes. (A homeopathic MD might say this is great as one should be chewing food at least 30 times per bite.) However, I find this similar to a toddler who plans to pocket the food in his/her mouth. Without jumping to any conclusions, I simply observed and he did eventually swallow. I know it’s purely because meat has a different feel and can truly be difficult to chew.
I remember hating steak for this very same reason. Who wants to work that hard to eat? Not me! I don’t even want to debone my fish, nonetheless eat chewy meat. Bobby recognized that this meat was softer and I assumed it meant he’d take a few less chews. Nope! I guess it really is just what it is. I’m just happy he eats some form of high quality (biological value) protein.
I also ordered cavatelli for Bobby. No sauce. No butter. No anything! He ate a few pieces and then said it tasted funny. It sure did; it had butter on it. I wasn’t going to return it though. So I ate it. I asked him to eat a few bites and finish the rest of his steak. And he was content. The boys just really like going to fancy restaurants with great fancy décor. Most especially, they really like the fancy-looking desserts!!
The boys’ favorite time of the meal had finally arrived! Of course, they didn’t want to actually eat the fancy desserts. They just like their desserts to look fancy! Bobby ordered peanut ice cream with chocolate sauce; for Billy, I ordered sweet cream—the closest flavor to vanilla. Billy also decided to eat the peanut brittle that came with his grandparents’ Cracker Jack Sundae. Bobby wouldn’t even try! Mind you, Billy wouldn’t try the cavetalli –or even guacamole when we ate out on Friday night.
Well my super taster, Bobby, noticed right away that he was served the wrong ice cream. They accidently had given him coffee ice cream. And it happened twice! He finally got his peanut ice cream and chocolate sauce. Meanwhile, Billy gleefully spooned up his sweet cream and chocolate sauce. The boys were in ice cream heaven and so was I. I ate the scoops of coffee Stracciatella ice cream!
It was truly a wonderful evening and a positive eating experience too, but…
Despite constant role modeling and their continuous exposure to all foods, my sons purely prefer plain and simple foods. Ironically, it remains beneficial for me to continue the positive food role modeling and exposure to all foods. Why? Because that’s how Bobby began to eat steak and Billy had the desire to try both the bread and the peanut brittle.
So, moms and dads, keep trying to do what you know is best for your kids. Recognize that your food and nutrition efforts are realized in sometimes very small ways over many years of positive reinforcement. You are not wasting your money! When your children don’t eat their meals or don’t like particular foods, you are helping your children create opportunities to neutralize foods and flavors, create positive food memories, and ultimately learn what they truly like to eat.