We are told that we should teach our kids to eat from the rainbow.
And though we’ve always insisted our kids eat their vegetables, or at least try them, I thought it might be fun if the kids chose to eat the colours from the rainbow, then colour in the shade to complete their rainbow in a day.
As with all things parenting, I vacillated between not insisting they try anything to eating everything placed on their plate.
This was likely the first power trip I attempted as a parent, and I did it a lot in the first years.
As with all things parenting, I’ve settled somewhere in the middle. Watching my child gag at the dinner table cause they really don’t like “x” is really not worth the emotional memory.
A book entitled, “French Kids Eat Everything” convinced me that kids should try everything. They should be exposed regularly and early to the good stuff, but we should offer the food, not force its consumption.
If they’re hungry, they will indeed eat.
If a one year old French baby has sampled more vegetables than a North American adult, we North Americans just might not be thinking outside the box enough.
I was asked many times how we got the kids to eat long-cooked dry beans, collard greens, and rice for days on end for our trip to rural Kenya. It was easy actually. It was the same reason we ate those things. We were hungry.
Of course they’re not going to like Brussel sprouts or steamed spinach from day 1. Does anyone? I suppose if you caramelize them and sauté a few pecans, that might help. But sample anything repeatedly, and it will most often, become, at least, familiar and tolerable.
Often the foods that we are offered from young childhood become some of our favourite flavours. I’m especially fond of deeply smoked farmers’ sausage; the kind my Mennonite grandpa prepared in his garage. The pungent aroma laced itself thick across the yard before I stepped off the farmhouse verandah. Throw that that with a dry curd cottage cheese pocket, known as vereneke, and you have prepared one of my favourite meals. But dry curd cottage cheese isn’t in the mainstream diet.
At the end of our eat the rainbow day, we had an incomplete arch.
ROY G BIV was not fully represented. The kids learned that B does not stand for brown…there’s no toast, rice, or bread in that rainbow. And white, the colour of bread, cheese, milk…also not on the rainbow. But it was a rainbow eating challenge that taught us to consider what we eat.
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