Picky but Adventurous

by J.D. Roth

Jason sent me a New York Times article about kids who are picky eaters.

As many of you know, I have a reputation as something of a picky eater. The way I like to think of it is that I may be a picky eater, but I’m adventurous. That is, I don’t like certain foods (mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, mushroom, broccoli, coffee, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.) but I am willing to try new and different cuisines. Kris, on the other hand, is not picky, but she’s unadventurous.

Anyhow, the NYT article reports on recent research from Dr. Lucy Cooke at University College London:

According to the report, 78 percent is genetic and the other 22 percent environmental.

“People have really dismissed this as an idea because they have been looking at the social associations between parents and their children,” Dr. Cooke said. “I came from a position of not wanting to blame parents.”

Nutritionists, pediatricians and academic researchers have recently shifted focus to children who eat too much instead of those who eat too little. But cases of obesity are less frequent than bouts of pickiness.

In some families, communal meals become brutal battlegrounds, if they haven’t been altogether abandoned. Cooks break under the weight of devising a thousand variations on macaroni and cheese. Strolls through the farmers’ markets are replaced with trudges through the frozen food aisle.

For parents who know that sharing the fruits of the kitchen with family is one of the deep pleasures of cooking, having a child who rejects most food is a unique sort of heartbreak.

Hugh Garvey, an editor at Bon Appétit magazine, knows the heartbreak firsthand. He shares his experience on gastrokid.com, a blog he created with a British pal that details the gastronomic life of families. His daughter, 6, is an omnivore’s dream child. But his son, 3, will eat only brown food.

“The way I comfort myself is the way any quasi-sane parent comforts himself,” Mr. Garvey said. “It’s like potty training. Eventually, they’re going to graduate from diapers. In the end, he’ll eat something green.”

Of course, it doesn’t help me to know that my picky eating is genetic. What I really need to know is how to get over it.

[New York Times: Picky eaters? They get it from you]

Updated: 12 October 2007

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