Following on from last weeks post and the comments on fussy eaters (you have to love them or you would end up flinging their rejected macaroni cheese across the room), I've been doing some thinking.
Adam is, indeed, a very fussy eater. When we were in the process of moving to Bosnia I worried about this a lot. Not only would he only eat a very limited range of food, we were moving somewhere where most of that range of food was unavailable. What, I thought, am I going to do without fish fingers, sausages or baked beans? That boy is going to fade away, and there's not much of him at the best of times.
Of course, as it turned out we found other things he would eat and he actually is eating a wider range of foods here than he ever would in the UK. I took a disciplined approach of 'if you eat it, great, if you don't, well fine, but you're not getting anything different for supper' which combined with an absolutely no snacks at all during the afternoon seemed to work. He's better now than he was and I think he will continue to improve.
But in Bosnia I noticed something. They don't seem to have very many fussy eaters here. Almost every child I have come across has eaten a full range of fruit and veg with enthusiasm. They also eat chocolate and sweets with enthusiasm, but (and this is the key here) I've also seen the kids say 'no thanks' to offers of chocolate.
Now, my two, with limited access to chocolate and such delicious banned substances, have never, ever, been known to say no to chocolate. In fact, Adam has on one occasion managed to get his little hands on so much of the stuff that he made himself sick. He gorges on it, absolutely gorges and has no ability to stop eating it.
This has got me thinking. Is it possible that we've got our approach to food all wrong? By banning or limiting some foods do they become all the more enticing and desirable? If we were to allow the kids more access to chocolate and the bad stuff, would they work out for themselves how much was enough? Would giving them this responsibility lead to a more responsible attitude towards food?
I'm not sure I'm prepared to try out this theory. Adam would eat nothing but cake and chocolate for weeks and I would fret fret fret. But, the Bosnian kids here all eat their fruit and veg and all tuck into their food with gusto. I've not seen any really fussy eaters, and given how much the nursery staff fret about Adam's lack of lunch consumption, I don't think they are used to it either. You don't tend to see fat Bosnian kids either, they live active lives running around burning off that calorie intake.
I am however interested to know whether anyone is bucking the 'ban the goodies push the veggies' trend out there and has tried giving their child a more free rein on having whatever they want to eat? Did it actually lead to a child with a healthy attitude towards food, who was able to say no to chocolate if they didn't really fancy it, and who tried out other healthier food? Or is the reason there aren't too many fussy Bosnian children because they are simply not given the opportunity to be difficult over food? Comments welcome!