Thursday, March 05, 2009


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?
Le chef

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.
Fish Stew
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.

Good for them?

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?


Lola and Ava said...

The girls were really good eaters from the word go and would gamely try anything that I sat before them (including chili in which their mama had mistaken the t for T . . . very spicy). However, the oldest went through a spate where she wouldn't eat anything, going so far to wish that "mommy could learn to cook good food" on Christmas day when she was three. When I pointed out that she hadn't even tasted her dinner, she calmly sniffed it and said it didn't smell good.

Consequently, she was never forced to eat anything that she didn't want . . . consequently, both she and her sister will try just about anything and eat better than their dad ever did at their age. Kids will like something one day, hate it for years, and then spend the rest of their lives infatuated with it. I should know . . . mmm, sweet potatoes.

jillian said...

Tim in that apron is a hoot! So interesting that M & O have such differing tastes.

I was such a picky eater and have had tummy troubles literally since birth - what my mom went through to get enough calories into me. Sheesh! The older I get the more my palette expands, still kind of picky though :)

Anonymous said...

You know, I grew up in a house of extremely non-adventurous eaters--my mom wasn't a big cook, and we tended to eat a lot of the same things (which were always tasty, thanks Mom!) over and over. Now that I have my own kitchen, I'm constantly surprised by how many foods I thought I didn't like that I actually love--especially those of the green variety. My whole relationship with food has changed, and cooking is always an adventure.

Cinnamon cookies sound fantastic, by the way.

Bea said...

That fish stew looks so yummy, I may have to make that tonight. That is so neat that O and M are so different in the food tastes, I think you're doing the right thing by sticking with homemade, and always introducing new things. It's so strange what kids will like, it's not always what you would expect. Robby loves steamed baby spinach, and green beans overcooked in bacon, but won't touch sweet potato, butternut squash, or peas. He loves chicken legs, and apples left whole with the skin peeled off, he will get it down to the core in 10 minutes, it's amazing. And the sweets, oh my, he loves sweets, especially chocat noke, cookies, and ice dream. Have you ever tried giving the kids seaweed? There is a certain type of seaweed, not the kind you use for rolls, that has been lightly salted and fried so it's crispy and melt in your mouth, I have to practically wrestle it away from him if he eats too much. And butter, Robby loves to dig his hands into a stick of butter. Raw tofu is a favorite too!. So funny.

t + j said...

why no recipe for that heavenly-looking and healthy cookie?! our boys are just like yours. abel is the ultimate sweet and carb tooth and can't get enough. oz will take a few bites of ice cream or cookie and then just let's it be (!!???!!!). or he'll give the rest to abel, who happily consumes.

Em Natural said...

Mamies, that was such a great blog. I was laughing the entire time because i could just picture o and m doing those things. I esp. love tim's modification of the apron. I found a good pattern for a male version, no ruffle and halfsie, it has cool pockets, even a place for a grill belt. too much i know, well love you so much! em

Claroux said...

I can completely relate to this post. It's amazing how much our kiddos are alike with regard to their differences. Chloe, like Owen, would exist solely on chocolate if I allowed it. And she's addicted to junk food too. When I offered them breakfast this morning she asked for potato chips instead. Most junk food that enters our house does so through the g-parents. I, like you, grew up on carob and all natural everything. I laughed when I saw you wrote about carob because I mentioned it to Jeff just last night as an option for Chloe. I've started to give her chocolate covered raisins and nuts because that makes me feel a LITTLE bit better about giving into her sweet tooth. Now Maddie....she's so WERID with her food choices. But when she eats she definitely eats MUCH healthier than Chloe. Maddie will eat an entire bowl of peas with better 24/7. She is also addicted to yogurt. She will eat two adult-sized containers of org. vanilla yogurt in under 10 minutes.

But I digress...I just felt the need to comment and say that I totally agree with you about how amazing it is to see how different two little people that have been together every second since birth and exposed to the exact same things can be so completely DIFFERENT. It makes you look at mother nature with awe and respect. and makes me realize that we don't have as much control over aspects of our lives than I thought we did!

PS - love the crafting posts. We are in the midst of making room for "baby" and my spare room will now be non-existent. But I am looking forward to creating a new and more organized space for crafting and such. I will have to squeeze everything into an antique armoire in our sun porch. But the reorganization process makes me giddy!

Have a wonderful weekend! *hugs*

Preeti said...

I'm all about diverse eating because we're foodies too. That fish stew looks so yummy and that's a great shot of Tim with the apron!!