You know when you get into the ocean and it is very cold at first but you get used to it after a minute or two? This is similar to the texture issue. Gradually making changes can help. Add some spaghetti to macaroni, a little at a time. Gradually add more and more until it is all spaghetti. If your child won’t eat tough meats, start out with filet or a soft, non-fiberous meat first and gradually move toward steaks with more texture. Some experts say that you have to try a food 20 or more times before you will grow to like it. It takes time and patience. However, by introducing different foods young, you may prevent this problem all together. And remember, if you do not like something….. more than likely your kids won’t like it, unless you introduce it to them anyway or model good “trying new food” behavior. “See…. even mommy tries food that she doesn’t like.” At our house, we have what is called a “no thank you bite.” Everyone has to try everything and then they can decide if they want to eat more. More often than not, the kids like the food that they think they will not.
I am not a doctor …. and NO I do not play one on TV or anywhere else for that matter. But I believe that one of the reasons that kids have texture issues has to do with exposure. Now for some kids, texture in food is an issue that is connected to the challenges that he/she faces with regard to ADD, ADHD and/or Autism. But for other kids, they have not had exposure to food with new textures. I have seen it several times. A child was given Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as a toddler. The smooth texture of the small macaroni in the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese becomes comfortable to this child. Honestly, I do not know how you can even call the noodles in the Kraft box “macaroni” as its shape is more like little “hose” snippets. Anyway…. If a child eats this type of “macaroni” for a few years, without exposure to spaghetti, rigatoni, alphabet noodles or even spiral noodles, a new texture might feel odd to the child. It might be undesirable and foreign to the child’s palette. So mom reverts back to the ‘ole stand-by for a few more years. In those additional years, the child has become more sensitive to different pasta shapes and it actually might feel uncomfortable, with the pasta’s rough edges or curves to chew a different noodle. When the child has reached ten or eleven, the thought of trying a new pasta proves anxiety-ridden. Mom does not want to fight it and proceeds to indulge the child by only providing the Kraft stuff. So, the child is resolved by his/her teenage years to not even try new pastas….. why start now, they might think. This same story could apply to any type of food…… chewy meat, soft cream cheese, fibrous asparagus, or even crunchy apples. The longer the child goes, excluding certain textures, the harder it may be to reintroduce them. I knew a kid who would only eat ziti. When mom would try to get him to try spaghetti or another shape of pasta, he would either not try it at all or try it and not like it. Finally, he became an adult and out of peer pressure, he began to try other pastas and realize that they were not so bad. For some families, they might think that this scenario is fine because ultimately, he was pressured into trying new foods as an adult. But I think that intervening a lot sooner would have showed him that he could try new foods at a much younger age. Needless to say, this was only one of the food issues that he had. I am a firm believer that we should introduce our kids to as many textures and tastes early. I have been known to tell moms that it goes way back to what you ate when you were pregnant or nursing. If you did not eat pickles or mushrooms during your pregnancy, during nursing, when he/she was a toddler, then school age, then your child may not ever like pickles or mushrooms. Mom’s food issues could and often get passed down to her children. The moral: from pregnancy to nursing to toddler on up, expose your kids to as many foods as you can, regardless of whether you like those foods or not. This will give them a better chance at becoming an adventurous eater later. I will get off my pedestal now….