I share recipes and meal plans with you here, but I'm sure you're wondering on some of the recipes, "How do you get a three year old to eat this?" For the most part? You don't. Short of bribery or force feeding him, three year olds just aren't going to eat brussels sprouts and enjoy them. (Good, more for mommy!)
However, I have adopted this rule for our home courtesy of Ask Dr. G. In short, "Don't yuck my yum." It's that simple. (By the way, the letter "G" might stand for Guru. This woman completely stands for every value I have ever wanted to instill in my child.)
It's sort of the food version of "One man's trash is another man's treasure." And sometimes my trash tastes like balsamic glazed pot roast, but The Incredible Hulk wouldn't have anything of it. Several times during a meal, I will hear him say, "I don't want to eat that! I don't like it!" We'll allow that. Expressing opinions and tastes (especially where food is concerned) is a way to converse during dinner, for him to develop a sense of self, and for me to learn what menu items are keepers and which ones I should save for date night. However, TIH is not allowed to say, "That's gross" when it comes to food.
Because it isn't gross. It's food. And I happen to find most of it quite tasty. Just because you don't necessarily enjoy a food doesn't make the food "gross," "distasteful," "inedible," or "yucky."
I'll never forget watching my dad squirt a healthy helping of ketchup on his scrambled eggs one morning and saying to him, "Ew! That is disgusting, dad!" My dad took a huge bite and replied, "The beauty of it is that you're not going to eat any of it."
This was how my parents taught me not to "yuck" their "yums." I learned that even if you dislike what someone else is eating, you shouldn't comment on it. It's rude. If you have no plans on even trying it, why do you think your opinion is so important?
My parents also taught me to try a little bite of everything I was offered at dinner, at a party, even at Thanksgiving where the sides outnumber the people being served. You try a little bit of everything. If you don't like something? You take a small "No, thank you" bite and finish the rest of your meal. You don't comment. You don't draw attention to what you find to be "yucky" because at the same time someone at the same dinner table could be heartily enjoying that very same dish.
This is extremely important in multiple child families as older siblings opinions of food will often help "form" the opinions of their younger siblings. If an older sibling says, "Gross! Peas are yucky!" in front of a younger sibling, the younger sibling is quite unlikely to try the peas. Or, if the younger sibling likes peas, they are even more unlikely to admit it to the older sibling.
Adults who do this at the dinner table (either by refusing to try a food [one that they aren't allergic to/morally opposed to] or by calling a food gross openly) are not only astoundingly rude, they're also very sad to me. Food is one of the most enjoyable human experiences we are privy to and they. are. missing. it. Eat. Eat well. Enjoy that experience. And, while you're at it - don't ruin it for anyone else.
I often find that as adults we are consistently doing this to one another; yucking yums all over the place. And, not just in food. In politics, in music, in religion, and in every enjoyable human experience we get. I personally welcome differing opinions, I even welcome a healthy debate at times, but plainly rejecting another person's opinion, belief system, or taste in foods is just reprehensible. (Especially the food one. Hate my religion, but do not hate my affinity for cheese for the love of gouda.)
We need to stop this. Give one another the option to enjoy our experience though it may be polar to yours. Stop yucking yums. Otherwise, I fear there won't be any yums left to have.
Perhaps by practicing this with your little ones at the dinner table, you'll be teaching them an even more valuable lesson for later on in life. Don't yuck the sweet potato casserole today, and maybe they won't feel entitled to yuck someone's life orientation tomorrow.
And that is food for thought.