Feeding a family of six each week can feel a bit intense. The logistics are complicated as we try to balance afterschool activities and seeing patients at night. The last thing that I want to hear when I put food down on the table is yuck.
It’s not that I feel personally insulted when a nose is turned up at the food I’ve prepared (although, I’d be lying if I didn’t say my ego is a little involved). It’s that dishes usually end up on our menu because one of the kids really likes it.
Paying attention to the kids’ food preferences is another one of the factors that I take into account when meal planning. While I do try to regularly expand their palates, I try to work in incremental steps that keep new foods loosely connected to older favorites. For example, I made pretzel coated salmon following success with some other breaded dishes and the willingness of the kids to eat salmon. It still only earned me three yums and one very loudly worded yuck.
In these moments, the parenting phrase that we fall back on is “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” It’s not that I want to force the kids to like a few that doesn’t work for them. I think that learning what kind of food you prefer is important and even as an adult there are certain foods that I don’t really want to eat (I’m looking at you coconut!). But saying yuck (or its close cousin “that’s gross!”) can make another person feel uncomfortable about liking something, shows poor manners towards
whoever prepared the food (there goes my ego again!), and creates a mindset that will make it harder to try new things.
Instead, we try to encourage talking about whatever aspect of the meal is your yum or, at the very least, saying nothing about the food per the old addage, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Encouraging restraint, sensitivity, and openmindness is part of what we are trying to achieve. And, maybe, it might even become a yum, eventually.
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Air fried Abba fries
Grilled chicken legs
Hasselback sweet potatoes,