Enabling food pickiness

The Stammering Dunce
4 min readNov 19, 2023

Also published on Wordpress.

First, I do acknowledge that forcing children to eat food they hate will backfire. While I didn’t grow up with food pickiness, I certainly was forced to do things I hate (and no one made attempts to make those activities appealing) and I end up hating them.

I can imagine if parents are being too harsh with foods, their picky children can get even pickier. From the anecdotes I heard, the children can end up having food-related traumas.

But, just because forcefulness can be detrimental to children’s well-being (especially if they are neurodivergent), that does not mean you should allow them to be picky. Letting them be so can be detrimental as well.

Before I talk about the detriments, let me talk about acquired tastes.

Some people I have encountered online believe acquired tastes are actually bad because, if they are actually good, they don’t need to be acquired in the first place. But, here’s the thing: every taste is acquired.

Pizza is easy for you to like not because it is objectively tasty, but because you grew up eating bread and/or anything greasy and cheesy. Yes, if you grew up with neither, you would have a harder time enjoying pizza. And yes, believe it or not, many people in the world didn’t grow up eating cheese and bread.

You may think people who love durian are either freaks or tryhards. But, in some parts of Southeast Asia (including my home country Indonesia), nobody thinks of you for loving it; you are not special, both in derogatory and non-derogatory sense. It is considered a normal food, albeit not for daily consumption, for health and financial reasons.

Offal is still widely-consumed in many parts of the world. On a global stage, you cannot call yourself the “normal” ones for not consuming organs.

And that segues to the first detriment of pickiness: it traps you in a bubble.

Obviously, you can interact with people from different cultures without eating their foods. But, if you want to understand them on a deeper level, you need to try immersing yourself in their cultures; arguably, eating their dishes is the most effective way because sustenance is one of the basic human needs.

And yes, no matter how often you travel outside your home regions, you still can be stuck in a bubble. You can visit a culturally “foreign” place and fall for the tourist traps, without having to dip your toes in the authentic local cultures. Just because your body is well-travelled, that does not mean your mind is.

Of course, if you take pride in your narrow horizons, that argument may not work for you. But, I am certain some of you care about your health. Yes, food pickiness can also ruin your health.

Consuming a little variety of dishes means you consume a little variety of ingredients, which means you have very limited sources of nutrients. Even if those limited ingredients give you enough nutrients, your health is screwed when some or all of them suddenly become unavailable for whatever reasons.

If you consume highly-varied plant-based ingredients, including legumes and whole grains, and adequate amount of fermented foods, you will also foster the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

Not only they can maintain good bowel health, they can also boost good cholesterol level, control blood sugar and maintain the health of our neutral system.

Introducing certain ingredients to children at a very young age can also reduce the possibility of food allergies developing later in life. As an Indonesian, I was surprised to hear about peanut allergy; never mind the deadliness, I didn’t know peanut could be an allergen.

Unless you don’t care about health, you would be gravely concerned by the pickiness which afflict you and/or your loved ones.

Oh, and if your children have ADHD, you can find online sources which give you tips on overcoming their pickiness. Involve them in the food preparation (which gives them a sense of pride in their food) and make meal times fun and distraction-free.

While they are against forceful parenting, they also warn parents to not succumb to their children’s demands. Have plain water as the only drink in meal times and do not give them sugary treats as rewards for eating veggies, as they will always see them as revolting foods.

I also googled about whether parents should sneak veggies in their children’s foods; some sources say we should not overuse the trick, others say we shouldn’t do it at all. Not only children won’t learn how to appreciate the taste of veggies, they will also end up distrusting the foods you make. Again, it can backfire.

What’s my point here?

We shouldn’t be too harsh towards picky people as they are shaped by their health conditions and/or upbringing, none of which they ask for.

But, it is also obvious some people defend pickiness not because they care about children’s well-being, but because they want to justify their own pickiness.

If that’s not the case, why would they wear their narrow tastebuds as a badge of honour, as shown by their “acquired tastes” argument?

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health

https://www(.)additudemag.com/picky-eaters-adhd-food-children/

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Should-I-sneak-fruits-veggies-into-my-preschooler-food.aspx

https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/please-stop-trying-to-sneak-vegetables-into-your-kids-food-article

https://www.learntolovefood.com/learn-to-love-food-1/is-sneaking-veggies-a-good-idea

.

.

.

.

.

Donate to this deadbeat, preachy blogger on Patreon.

--

--