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More Stories - The Way We Were
Be sure allergy isn't the reason your child won't eat certain foods.
When my children were small, we had a rule that everyone had to eat a little of everything (see Hints). The plates were filled with at least a bite of each food, a little more if I was certain the child liked the item and was hungry. Then the serving dishes were placed in the center of the table and everyone was called to eat. Once they ate everything on their plate (without pulling an ugly face or making a nasty comment), they could have as much as they liked of anything else, and then dessert.
If I knew a child had a real aversion to a food, the "bite" was really a tiny one. My son, who hated beets and sometimes objected to eggs, would eat his tiny portion of those foods quickly so he could concentrate on enjoying the rest of the meal. My daughter was another story. There were a number of foods she disliked intensely and tried to get out of eating: shrimp, lobster, watermelon, most fish and several others items. She would stall, ask not to have to eat them, try to hide them, and finally reluctantly eat a little. As she got older and it was obvious that she was NEVER going to like those items, the "bite" got tinier and tinier, to perhaps 1/2 teaspoon, and a good thing, too, as it turned out.
As they entered their teens, the rule was discarded and they ate what they wanted. At fifteen, this daughter was attending a school where the cafeteria was serving food she considered inedible. She began eating items she liked from several fast food establishments surrounding the school, and her choices very often included pizza with green pepper rings, conch fritters, pear nectar, cups of fruit cocktail and M & Ms with peanuts. Well into the school year she suddenly developed frequent and serious throat infections, cold symptoms, hives, respiratory distress and other problems.
You guessed it! An allergist finally confirmed that she was seriously allergic to shrimp, lobster, conch and other shellfish, ocean fish and other foods containing iodine, plus almonds, peanuts, watermelon, pears and green bell and other peppers, plus a few minor items! I still feel guilty about it.
Most food dislikes are caused by a child failing to learn to enjoy a food, or by observing another person's aversion to an item. But when your kid likes most foods but dislikes a very few, especially if you have a family history of allergies, think twice before trying to force or trick them into eating those shunned items. I wish I had!