How to Help our Children be Mindful Eaters

by Judy Gates, Advance Humanity Partner

When I was little, I was a picky eater.   I would only eat meat loaf if my slice was cooled instead of straight from the oven.  I only liked the broth part in my mother’s vegetable soup.  I didn’t like beans in any shape or form.

I wish I could apologize to my mother for being like that.  Thank goodness, I’ve changed.  As I grew up, I dropped many of those dislikes but I was still pretty conservative.  One day, I took a bite of a pastry and put it down, saying I couldn’t eat it because there was some coconut in it. Then, for whatever reason, I asked myself,  “Why, Judy, don’t you like coconut?”  My answer,  “Well, I just don’t. I’ve never liked it.”  It dawned on me that it was simply a long-held prejudice with no foundation whatever.  I took another taste and it tasted fine.  At that moment, I decided to just like everything.  So now, I will eat anything–any texture, any flavor, any shape.  And it’s fine.  I love it!

This new outlook on food made it a lot easier for me when I spent three years in the Peace Corps in Mongolia.  You don’t waste anything there.  Every bit of the sheep, goat, camel, cow or horse gets eaten. A favorite dish contains the innards, that is, the organ meats all stewed together.  Sheep’s heads are sold in the market.  I’ve had marmot served in the countryside.  Goat ears are a treat.

Raising children to be mindful eaters, that is, to eat a variety of healthy foods and enjoy them too, can be a challenge.  Every parent knows that.  The good news is that there are a lot of ideas today about how to do it effectively.  I don’t think there is just one way and, so, I’m listing below several websites I found helpful.  I think they can even help adults overcome food dislikes!  In addition to the list, you can find lots of other links.  Just search on “picky eaters.”

I also came across the book, French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. You can probably find it at your local library.  It’s described this way: French kids eat everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banished snacking, and discovered 10 magic rules for raising happy, healthy eaters.

Happy mindful eating to everyone of all ages!