Originally Posted by velochic
I'll also just gently remind people that approximately half of the world's population does not have a choice in the food they eat. To indulge our children to the point that they won't eat an orange if we don't take every string off is kind of a slap in the face to the people who will never have an orange to eat ever in their lives. I have seen these people. Teaching children to be adaptable and appreciate what we have is part of growing up, IMHO. Donning my flame-proof suit now as I'm sure there will be plenty who disagree.
I don't disagree about the worldwide hunger/choice issue.
But I am raising my child here where learning to navigate the choices available is actually one of the food issues.
To provide another story, I grew up in a home where food was absolutely controlled by my mother. Portions were set out before everyone sat down to dinner and if you happened to have been active all day and hungrier than usual, too bad - even when there was food left, because the leftovers were controlled as well. Even vegetables. Although it wasn't one of those "clear your plate or you will eat it tomorrow" homes, my mother's investment in her cooking was such that if you said you didn't care for something (even when asked) there was an emotional storm that often hit wildly. ("I don't know why I bother" and then two days of a strike where perhaps almost no food was available.) We were not that poor; we definitely had a strict budget but it was self-imposed.
My mum also went through health phases and then junk phases, so one year everything with sugar would disappear and it would all be carob and soy nuts (70s :)), And then another year she might be on a feminist phase of not "cooking" so it would all be Hamburger Helper and Chef Boy-ar-dee and tv dinners and take out.
You can add to this that my mother is not a gifted cook, and she has some OCD issues so that for example, all chicken would have to be cooked way past what most people would consider to be done. Like dessicated.
I will say that my palate probably was slightly more expanded than it would have been otherwise because of the emotional atmosphere, but I wasn't naturally that picky anyway. But my relationship to food was a disaster. Because of the portion control when I hit my teens I was hungry all the time, and dreaded each meal, and would get yelled at for taking crackers out of the cupboard. I'd say though that it was feeling that I was not allowed any preferences at all that drove me emotionally.
I started to buy food on the way home from school pretty early on and hide it and gorge - probably around grade 5, although I didn't have much money until I was babysitting more, so grade 8. It wasn't just about hunger, but also to be kind of numbed out on food. I ate fast food and I would shop discount stores for huge bags of cookies. I got an extra job at the school library to buy food. Occasionally I would even take change from my dad's dresser top to feed my habit. I was pretty active, so I wasn't hugely overweight but as my growth slowed it started to show.
In university we still had the old unlimited food meal plans and I went. nuts. The industrial cafeteria food had more taste than a lot of my mum's food, and there was no tension, but good conversation with friends. I probably gained about 25 lbs my first year.
When I moved out on my own, I had food hoarding issues. In my first apartment after marriage I filled two closets with canned food and wasted so much that would go bad in the fridge. I still start to feel nervous if we have fewer than 5 cans of pasta sauce, etc. Between my husband, who's a great cook, and me, we both ended up gaining weight. It was only in my late 20s that I realized I had a problem (after a tower of cans fell onto my toe) and started to downgrade my 'stash' and when I was in therapy later on it was one of the things we worked on
So although I do agree that we can and should guide our kids with different flavours and meals and I'm not a fan of the "make the kids nuggets" mode, the fact is that if I'm going to err I would rather have a slightly more indulged and pickier kid who knows his own tastes and body than anything like how I grew up.
Now as I said, though, my son is naturally a pretty reasonable eater in terms of breadth (he eats tiny portions). If I had a child who was down to three foods I'd have to reconsider a bit and get some more advice.