Raising a child is not an easy task, it never was. With single kid these days, it has become all the more difficult as compared to earlier when we have many kids in the house because of siblings, joint family etc. When there are more kids, the kids learn from each other, looking at each other and following each other. One such habit was eating.
These days, eating habits of a single kid in the house are surely to watch for. They have so many varieties to choose from, so many persons to cook for them their favorite delicacies at the drop of hat, getting them eat a healthy meal is a big challenge.
My son was a really fussy eater. All my relatives, friends or even anyone in my building can narrate a story on how he used to not eat and how so many options and tricks we used to try to make him eat. Today, not only he eats everything but also he is a great amateur chef, the journey is long. Slow, steady and long but the journey from fussy eater to connoisseur is worth all the time, patience and hope.
When he was young he didn’t like to eat at all. So, the first attempt was to make him sit in front of TV and when he was lost in his cartoon just feed him. Alternate options included making his favorite food – instant noodles to curb his hunger but with zero nutrition or let him eat few set menu of food which he likes with limited nutrition value. For a growing child, the proper nutrition was surely a point of concern.
Patiently, everyday I tried explaining him, the benefits and needs of healthy eating for a growing child but for a young boy, it was so complicated to absorb. As a mother, I had to act and I started thinking about alternate options. Being a working mother, the time which I used to get with him was also limited to act on. A game was very popular those days which as a very basic feature –exchange – compensate. Quickly I borrowed the idea from there and asked him that whenever he wants to have instant noodles, he can have that but he has to compensate, he has to eat an egg for every serving of instant noodle. To which he agreed instantly and that was my first win…first step to success towards my goal.
After that, with every few days, there used to be new step tried and when it is accepted moved to take up a new step.
After starting eating egg with instant noodles, I generally started coking meals which he likes along with our usual dinner. A new pact came in place that I will serve him in his plate whatever is cooked in the house but he can choose to not eat and bring back his unfinished dinner plate to me and I will finish – no questions asked. Since the pact has no questions asked clause, he agreed willingly. After a few days, at least he was not making faces to all the vegetables and salads being served. Now, time for one more step forward, the new option given was he needs to just taste one single bite of any one new item, if he doesn’t like, he can even spit it out – again no questions asked. It is believed that for a child to completely accept a flavor of food, as many as 11 tasting attempts are required. This was more of my patience level test than anything else. Slowly, he tried many vegetables, some he liked instantly, some he hated and some he was ok with when there was nothing on menu as his favorite choice. With him trying new things, approving some and rejecting many I also got to know his taste and likings. Not to forget, we still had that compensating food pact on.
For the food, he was rejecting repeatedly, some of the Indian values came handy, relatives you know! Like, he used to like lady finger but not beans, I told him beans are cousins of lady fingers so if you reject beans, lady finger will become sad and will not taste as good. He accepted that logic and started eating beans. Similarly for chawli, he was too fond of rajma rice, I told him chawli is white rajma, since we eat with chapatti, it is different in color. Many more such stories helped me go a long way in getting accepted the food which he did not like in one go.
Gradually, as he grew, he became interested in cooking and now he manages the flavors of food as per the best of taste and retain the nutrition value. He has grown to a role model for many for cooking and surely for the person he has grown into.