It started with cupcakes. Next time it was pizza. And just last week it was key lime pie.
These aren’t the typical foods I talk about, but really, they’re part of life with kids. A few years ago, the kids and I cooked up a boredom-busting idea one summer day. You know the day, it’s about 2/3 of the way through summer when everyone is bored and it is overcast and all friends are on vacation? We decided to go on a cupcake tour. We spent two hours traveling around the city of Pittsburgh buying cupcakes. A blind tasting was done and a grand champion was awarded. We had so much fun we’ve repeated this process many times over. Sadly, no one has ever asked for a sautéed spinach or veggie burger tour.
Last week we were in the Florida Keys and every restaurant served key lime pie. The last night we ate in, but the kids couldn’t resist the idea of having a taste-off. Like participants in a road rally, we dashed off to three restaurants and one grocery store picking up our bounty. After a dinner I cut taste-sized bites and labeled them with numbers.
“This one is creamy and not too tart.” “Oh, I can definitely tell this is from the grocery store. I’m not even finishing it.” “I think the crust on this one is even better than the one we had the first night.”
As I listened to my children’s comments I realized something. I am raising food snobs.
I’m a food snob; I admit it. But not a, I-only-dine-at-white-table-clothed-establishments food snob. No, I’m particular about what goes in my body. I eat real food. If it is processed, I will put it down as quickly as a teenaged girl critiquing her mother’s outfit If Pringles and Doritos and McRib were my classmates, I’d be sent to the principal’s office daily for bullying. I am unabashed with my criticism of bad food.
But I rejoice in good food. My kids laughed at me and rolled their eyes when I bit into a perfect turnip yesterday. “This is the best turnip ever! Really, please just try a bite.” They walked away. Probably dreaming of more pie.
We teach our children value. Helping them see that all foods are not created equal should be part of that lesson. Some foods are better. Some taste better and some are better for our bodies. Our junk foods taste tests are fun. But it is equally important to help our children discern healthy foods, from those that do nothing. Not every food is worthy of being eaten. Helping my children develop discerning palettes is a critical part of them learning to eat well. But I’m not holding my breath for that spinach taste-off.
Kathy Gillen is a wellness coach and nutritional consultant. She is passionate about helping others to eat well so they'll feel well. Visit her at www.wellnessroadtrip.com She is available for speaking, classes and one-on-one coaching for both adults and children.