I was a picky eater growing up, and the list of things I didn’t like included tomatoes, peppers, cheese (yes, seriously), olives, anything remotely spicy, most fish, onions, and a myriad of other things. Combine this with my on-again, off-again status as a vegetarian, and my diet was pretty much peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
When I was around 21 or so, I decided being finicky was an obnoxious personality trait and made it my mission to acclimate myself to a wider variety of food.
I realize calling pickiness an obnoxious personality trait is kind of mean, and everyone has the right to eat (or not eat) what they want. Sure, there are still foods I prefer over others, and some things I will never love no matter how much I try (looking at you, green bell peppers).
But If everyone can complain about sanctimonious vegans or millenials’ love of avocado toast, I can tell you to shut up about not eating mushrooms. If you don’t like something, just quietly don’t eat it. As they say, “Don’t yuck my yum.”
I’m digressing pretty stupendously, though. My point is that I hoped to raise an adventurous eater when I had Baby 1. We did the whole Baby Led Weaning thing, and I’ve made it a point to never say, “Yuck” to anything that wasn’t, for example, a ball of lint or a dead bug heading toward his mouth. When everything is new to him, there’s no reason to prime him to expect certain foods to be superior or suspect.
Being nonchalant about what he eats means that he’ll generally try new things voluntarily, but as the toddler years have crept forward, he’s become far more selective in his food choices. I suppose it’s inevitable.
Here’s a short list of things my 21-month-old won’t eat right now:
- Anything sandwiched. Quesadillas, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, a sub. Bread? Delicious. Cheese? Can’t get enough. Jelly? He’d gladly lick it off the rug if the opportunity arose. Put any of these items together in a stack and he’ll either dismantle it and eat just the insides, or stare at me like I’ve put a kitchen sponge on his plate and suggested he might eat it. This also counts for toast with a topping (usually), and pizza.
- A mandarin orange if I’ve broken it into segments. Or other times, a mandarin orange if I haven’t broken it into segments. It’s impossible to predict which one he wants, even if you ask.
- Similarly, apple slices. If I cut an apple up out of his sight, he’ll probably eat the slices, but if he sees the whole apple, it’s game over. It doesn’t matter if it’s the size of a softball, he wants the whole thing. Nevermind that he’s done with it in two bites and leaves it to slowly decompose under the couch while I’m not looking.
- Shrimp. He called it “egg” when I tried to serve it to him at dinner the other night. He loves eggs, but wouldn’t eat the shrimp. Whatever, I get it. It’s a little weird. I’ll keep trying.
- Cereal with milk. He’ll ask for it over and over again. He’ll pry my cereal bowl out of my hands so he can drink the sweetened milk. But if I serve him a bowl of his own cereal with milk, it inevitably becomes chicken food. (Parenting tip: If you have a picky toddler and hate seeing food go to waste, get some chickens. They eat pretty much everything.)
- Sliced tomatoes. He’ll eat halved cherry tomatoes until he explodes, but if they’re any larger, they’re apparently poison.
- Cheddar cheese sticks. He eats about 15 mozzarella cheese sticks every day, but come at him with an orange one and he’ll fight you. Similarly, I had to buy muenster cheese slices because they were out of provolone cheese at the grocery store when I went this week, and I’ve had to start cutting them into circles with a rocks glass because he will only eat “circle cheese.”
- Rice. I can’t fathom how this is unpalatable to him, but it is. At least this week.
- Pineapple and melon. Those cheap mixed fruit bowls they serve at restaurants, with the melons, pineapple, and grapes? They’re just a scavenger hunt for grapes with gross filler, I guess.
- Leaves of any sort. I doubt this is an unusual toddler food aversion, but he won’t touch lettuce/salad, or cooked greens. He’ll also pick around them if I put them in a frittata, and refuses to eat pasta with spinach pesto. He will annihilate a smoothie, though, so that’s how I tend to sneak in any leafy greens.
None of this is helped by the fact I barely have energy to plan meals lately. Oh well, he’ll survive off cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, broccoli and blueberries for the foreseeable future. That, and the half-eaten apples he has strategically stashed around the house.