I've been thinking on the issue of food and my sense of it in relation to my children. I think that any parent with more than one child develops an appreciation for how different each one is in the area of food and taste preferences. The unique aspect with twins is watching how two children of the same age can be so very different when they have been exposed to the same things since birth. It is that 'nature nurture' thing in action.
Ours have always been different from the start of solids, even from the way they processed their daily formula bottles, if we go all the way back. Mason had a lot of stomach issues, none diagnosed but definitely observed. O seemed to be more of the iron stomach type but he was the spitter, it seemed he did it just for fun and usually after the milk had been partially digested. Mmmmm.
We never had food allergy issues and I was a bit lassiez faire about the timing of introducing different foods. Yogurt, honey, spinach, grains, soup, I let them try it all. In the beginning they ate the same thing and despised the same thing. Like potatoes, like mashed potatoes loaded with butter and cream, rejected. Watching their figures at 8 months? Hmmmm.
So, then entered self feeding and choice and will and the differences developed profoundly. Owen abhors vegetables, he literally shrinks when he sees them. He willingly smashes peas but never eats them, will gamely try newly offered bits, grimaces and spit. Kind of like the beginning. What does he love...carbs and cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cinnamon cookies. Sweet, he is the sweet tooth. He loves choc choc, especially the dutch sprinkles, he eats ice cream and yodels for his organic fruit bar whenever his eagle eye spots them in the hide away spots. Oh, and he has been a vegetarian since birth, rejecting cajoling attempts at chicken nuggets, hot dogs (kosher, of course), steak bits, ribs, you name the protein, he spits it. Except eggs.
Mason is so different. He avoids certain crabs, like bread. What? Yes, bread. He devours eggs, meat of most types and swooned over his first Costco polish sausage. A true carnivore, he actually grins when he eats meat. But he also eats salad, most vegetables even the exotics, like bok choi and black beans with cumin. Sweets, they are like acid. He cringes at ice cream, occasionally accepts choc choc and usually spit out his fruit bar. But does like the cinnamon cookies.
I started thinking about this because I know I treat them differently because of their food personalities. Sometimes I catch myself placating Owen with food when he is hurt or frustrated, giving in to his incessant demands for cookies or sweets. And with Mace, I find myself forcing a bite of ice cream on him, wheedling for just one bite. Because it seems an anomaly, this hate of the cream icy-ness.
I grew in a household of home cooked meals, diverse cultural influences and adulterated cookies that contained wheat germ and carob chips. These things gave me a healthier relationship with food, though I still struggle as an American eater to avoid the pitfalls that can be eating in our modern world. We tend to cook meals, bake bread and choose better snacks for us because of my exposure to food preparation and really, because I love cooking. Something about wielding a sharp knife. And Tim does his fair share too, as evidenced in this shot. I think he deserves his own apron soon, huh?
I serve our meals to the boys, knowing full well their toddler tastes will likely reject it and more than likely, toss it off their plates.
But I am surprised by them at times, the things they experiment with, curries or chili or lemony chicken picata. You just never know. I know our relationship with food/parenting/eating will always be a complex one and that I cannot dictate taste buds. What I hope is that with long term exposure to good food, to assorted vegetables on plate, to delicious adventurous eating, that they may both be happy with food, real food.
I garner hope when I watch my now 17 year old brother devour every meal I make. He of the 'only peanut butter and jelly' and 'buttered white rice' for 4 or 5 years. Do not despair, my fellow parents of picky toddlers, it might be by the time they really need good nutrition, they just might get it. Until then I will continue to adulterate my homemade oatmeal cookies with steel cut oats, flax seed, almond flour and wheat germ. They liked them yesterday, but then I think they read this because they would not eat them today.
Nice try, mama.
The 'recipe' for the fish stew is on FLickr, just click the pic. It was good, I thought. Lent Friday, you know?