Before Monkey turned 3 he was like a hoover when it came to food. You could literally give him anything (except avocado) and he’d eat it. From Chilli con Carne to Curry, Couscous and everything in between. He was so easy to please, and he ate exactly what we ate, without any issues. Then he hit 3, and boy did mealtime become a challenge, the whole idea of trying new food flew out the window and meals that he’d loved, he refused to eat, time and again.
Over the last 4 years, I can see that the variety of meals I’ve cooked has decreased substantially. I always eat with Monkey, and I’m not cooking one meal for him and one meal for me. I’m just not going there. But it’s left me longing for so many different foods! He doesn’t like sauces or gravy (how can he be my son), which has been challenging at times. He is better than he used to be with casseroles, I drain his meat before plating up, and he’s normally ok with that these days. It’s easy to not put gravy on his plate.
He does love broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, he’d eat all three, all day long. But he gets so fed up with school meals that dish up peas and sweetcorn. He detests both these days, of course, before he turned 3 he loved them both. His not a fan of potatoes, he’s improved since he started having school dinners. He will actually eat a bit of mashed potato, roast potatoes (if you take them out of their skins) and skinned new potatoes. He really isn’t fussed by chips at all.
Given half a chance he’d eat margherita pizza every day of the year, but he will eat most fish and chicken really. I made a rod for my own back with going out for dinner. I’d go for the easy option, with a restaurant that suited him and his likes, rather than trying to get him to try new foods. But over the last six months, I’ve branched out a little with the places we eat, tell him in advance that pizza is not on the menu, and in general it’s not been too stressful. Even if he hasn’t eaten everything placed in front of him, he’s tried different sorts of fish cakes and other fish dishes.
A few weekend’s a go we had gone to see one of my Dad’s cousins for the day, I hadn’t checked what she was planning to cook. It could have gone terribly wrong, but she’s got loads of grandchildren and is used to all sorts of eaters. I knew that if he refused everything, she’s not blink an eyelid. She’d made a steak and kidney pudding, with potatoes, green beans, parsnips and carrots. The green beans ended up on my plate immediately. How would he get on with the pie? He’s not a fan of red meat and has never had kidney. He wasn’t that impressed, but he did actually eat some of it, more than I thought he would. The most impressive thing was that he didn’t have a meltdown that a strange meal had been put in front of him.
Then last Sunday Daddy P and Monkey had been to an event at Alexandra Palace for the day, whilst I cracked on with the painting. Daddy P suggested that we have dinner at our local Brewers Fayre, for a stress free treat. We’d had meltdowns before when they took pizza off their kids menu, but now Monkey knows that he can choose between chicken and fish dishes and he’s fine with that. He ordered his meal with confidence and when our starters arrived, he wanted to know what mine was. Tempura King Prawns. He loves prawns, but hasn’t liked king prawns when he’s tried them before. I explained that they were basically prawns in batter. Can I try one please? (This boy never asks to try anything different!!) Of course you can. One tempura king prawn later. Uum, it was ok Mummy. Right, trying new food could be fun then Monkey.
We all finished our starters and then the mains arrived. I’d decided on a burger for a change and asked for onion rings as a side order. Before I knew it, there was Monkey asking if he could try one. Trying new food twice in one day! That’s quite nice too Mummy. Right Monkey.
Blimey. Small steps and all that. But just the asking to try something new was a revelation. I’m hoping this is the start of a new stage in Monkey’s eating habits. I’m going to be braver this year, and try eating in a more varied range of eateries, and see whether we can keep Monkey moving in the right direction with trying new food. Although I can’t see his love of pizza diminishing any time soon.
Wish us luck!