Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hummus, really!?

Note: I will be out of town from the 13th-23rd, so expect another posting towards the end of the month!

So, M has seen hummus with meals at least 100 times in the last 3 years. I love it (local Hollyland hummus is the bomb) and it is often there for lunch with other options. Out of the blue, she asked for hummus yesterday morning for breakfast. It was in the fridge right in front of her (I was making French toast from left-over bread.) I was curious so I said, "sure!" (Those of you paying close attention note that I was letting her do the job of deciding 'what' to eat, I hope you'll go with it for now....) :)

She pulled out the hummus, I peeled a carrot for her and she nibbled on that while we chatted and I tended to the French Toast.

"This is good hummus. It's just like Freddie's!"

Well, bowl me over and Thank You Freddie!

You know the line about kids needing to "try" foods 10 times before they decide they like it? Well, they may need dozens and dozens, and sometimes 100 exposures before they decided to even try it! I think they had hummus for snack at school, and Freddie occasionally had it at lunch time.

So, don't despair, don't pressure. I know how tempting it is to ask kids to try it, or to eat something they are reluctant to eat. I firmly believe that almost all kids, when exposed over time to a food in a neutral and pleasant setting will learn to like it.

Like my client who called after six months saying her son tried cauliflower and sushi all in one week, or the child who declared he might try a chicken nugget next time... It takes time, lots of it for some kids. Having a positive attitude about eating and food is critical.

Your 5 year old doesn't have to eat or love everything (nor does your two or eleven year old.) I wasn't even exposed to most 'exotic' cuisine until college and beyond. Trust that if you love eating a variety of foods and you provide your children with that opportunity, with time, they will learn to like those foods.

What if I had MADE her try it, or pressured her? Might she have taken a few bites to please me? Might she have refused and had the 45 minute stand-off? Would she have been as positive about it so soon?

What was it like to be pressured to try new foods for you as a kid... I know I didn't even TRY my mom's red cabbage until I was in my mid-twenties. They always wanted me to try it, but it was my line in the sand....

Are there foods you were encouraged or forced to eat that took you a long time to be open to? ( I still haven't even tried my dad's home-made green tomato chutney...)

Oh, and this was the 3rd time we had French Toast, and M at 2 smallish slices, while she only nibbled the first few times...


  1. The other day we were having tacos when my son bowled me over by asking for sour cream. So far as we know, he's never had sour cream (and I've never offered - my mom's the only one in the family who eats it and she only rarely has it at the table when we eat).

    He enjoyed it, although it took a full spoonful before he realized that it really WASN'T supposed to be eaten in quantity, like whipped cream. Then he insisted on having a little spread over the rest of his food, which he then cheerfully ate.

  2. Haha, this is the second time I have seen you mention your dad's homemade chutney... are you ever going to summon the courage to try it?

    It's really good! Try at least one bite! It's yummy! You'll like it! Big kids eat it, don't you wanna be a big kid? If you eat a bit of chutney, you can eat dessert...

    ... Jokes aside, if you ever do try it please remember to write about your experience! :)

  3. There were some confrontations over food in my childhood, but the worst was over sweet potatoes, which I disliked for some reason. I remember my father shouting rhythmically "Open! Chew! Swallow! Open! Chew! Swallow!" over and over again, and crying uncontrollably. Not sure how old I was, but the same thing happened every time sweet potatoes were served.

    To this day I can't even try to eat them without throwing up. Even sitting at a table where someone else is eating them is difficult for me. Thinking about them is nauseating.

    If my parents regarded eating sweet potatoes as healthy and something they needed to encourage, you might say their tactics backfired, indeed. Fortunately, they didn't go to this extreme with any other foods. (I still don't eat peas, for example, but I think this is a genuine dislike, not a reaction to bad childhood experiences.) I can only imagine how messed up I'd be if I'd disliked more foods and the dislike had turned into confrontations like the ones I remember.

  4. I know you're out of town, but maybe you'll see this, or maybe the other commenters will enjoy it: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html

  5. Cauliflower.

    I am an adventurous eater, always was, and even in kindergarten I would try a dish again if I didn't like it first time, just to see if first time was a fluke. But the boiled-to-death cauliflower with a very badly made B├ęchamel sauce (made with margarine instead of butter, canned milk instead of fresh, no salt and too much nutmeg) was beyond me. Of course, the kindergarten teachers came down like a ton of bricks on any kid who complained about food or didn't eat -- pickiness was considered a sign of a weak character.

    I got used to spinach, my second childhood won't-eat. Cauliflower still has as much appeal to me as the tablecloth. Every time I actually eat it I'm surprised that it's not disgusting, but it never looks appetizing or even tolerable. I am also not overly enthusiastic about B├ęchamel sauce, although I *know* I'll like it.

  6. jaed, wonder what it was about sweet potatoes! Sometimes I see dads get locked into these really intense power struggles. It's almost as if it's a personal challenge to conquer. Odd. (There are probably some moms too, but some of the most difficult I have encountered have been Dads. The ones I have seen seem to think it's all so ridiculous and they can fix it...)

  7. In my case I think there was also a bad dynamic going on between my mother and father. My father was more easygoing generally, but my refusal to eat sweet potatoes angered my mother, and he was tended to respond to her anger by picking it up and amplifying it. (Which I guess is an example of existing problematic family dynamics causing drama at the table, instead of the drama causing the dynamics!)