Let’s face it, our parents tried their best to keep us on track and eating right when we were still young and malleable. Then it happened… Somewhere between recognizing the Pink Power Ranger on a box of fruit snacks (yes, I was a 90s child) and trading the bag of Doritos for a Dunkaroos at the lunch table in 5th grade–we developed our own tastes.
Somehow, with some, this taste has evolved very little, and still made its way into the collegiate arena. Mini fridges stuffed with frozen, processed chicken nuggets and stacks of EasyMac lining the bookshelves, its disappointing. Colleges don’t ask, “Hey, what did you have for dinner last night?” on applications. Wouldn’t it be nice though?
As a former picky-eater, I’d like to say, the broadening of a palette is a life skill, like playing poker and driving manual transmission. My father used to ask me what I was going to do when I was 16 and a boy took me to a restaurant on a date. I couldn’t very well say, um… pasta, with sauce on the side? (Mind you, I was 10.) I couldn’t let that happen, I liked boys much more than I liked pasta.
So the question remains of what happens if one of these primitive palettes comes over to hang out? (Moms: this goes for you too!)
The psychology behind picky eaters has been a topic of puzzlement for moms since…well, the beginning of time. To reach an answer to this problem, remember these things: texture, simplicity, and familiarity. Sometimes, we simply don’t like the texture of what we eat. I know I hated meatloaf because I could never chew it to the point of my being comfortable with swallowing it, and by then the taste was gone. So to combat this problem is to simply change up the texture. If they don’t like your tomato soup because it’s chunky, toss it is a blender, and over time don’t pureé it as well until you don’t have to do it anymore.
Next, is the simplicity problem. Imagine you’re looking at a plate of nachos. Everything but the kitchen sink is on these nachos. You like X, Y, and Z on your nachos because you know its what you like. Suddenly, you get OCD. Oh no! These can’t be good nachos. They got messed up! (Think like a 10 year old…)
Last is familiarity, we’ve touched on this in the previous two. Kids like to stick to what they know. So when they get the impromptu courage to taste something new, do NOT make it a big deal. Especially at a restaurant. Having them assist in the kitchen can help too. Involving them in the cooking process will help them understand exactly what they are eating, and its like Toto ripping the green curtain away, revealing the man behind the “Wizard.”
Or you can just be sneaky about it and dangle social humiliation over their heads, like Dad.
So if what they like is chicken nuggets and EasyMac then bring it on.