Contributed by: David Scott
"What do you mean you don't want to eat it? It's food, isn't it?" That quote is from a 6-year-old to his sister, who was 9, from many years ago-just the way my mother remembered it.
I suggest it demonstrates that some children are fussy about their food, others are extremely fussy and many will happily eat whatever is put in front of them. It's a fact of childhood. Dealing with the differences from child to child is a fact of parenthood. And the eating problem is particularly concerning when it comes to carry-along lunches that many parents send to school with their youngsters every day.
An obvious response is to send a favorite lunch, day after day. (That may lead to an odd syndrome: I recall the mother of a 7-year-old telling me her son had never eaten anything except peanut butter sandwiches. She was amazed that I had just persuaded the boy to eat a slice of tomato.)
There are, however, other ideas that will help the child develop better eating habits and enjoy nutritional variety. Assuming the child has no reason to dislike the lunches you make, his or her reluctance to eat it can probably be overcome. Try this: Put a list of sandwiches on the fridge door Saturday morning and ask your children to select the five they would like for next week's lunches.
When you are making the lunches, each weekday evening, offer the children a chance to help, as a family production line. One child can make the filling, another butter the bread, another wrap and pack the finished product-assuming you have enough children to go round. It's just another chance for you to make routine household chores "fun" rather than dreaded "work."
Of course your hope will be that the lunch will be more acceptable and likely to be eaten if each child has played a role in the planning and production of it. You might also ask the small fry to suggest "treats" they would like you slip into the lunch box from time to time.
David Scott is author of The Sandwich-a-Day Recipe Book, an ebook based on Family Lunch Box, a popular newspaper column published during the 1980s and 90s. For more free sandwich recipes or to buy a copy of the ebook, visit http://www.pixiegold.com.
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