We have a problem with food in our house. No-one likes the same things as anyone else, so at every single mealtime there is someone unhappy. Sometimes there’s someone who’s happy as well, which is nice. I used to be a vegetarian. The reason for the past tense comes later. My husband doesn’t like veggie food. Or pies. Or mushrooms. Or anything in a creamy sauce. We coped with this in days gone by by eating a lot of ready meals which came in their individual packaging – I would have Gobi Saag Aloo and he would have Chicken Jalfrezi and all was well.
Then we had a daughter. She was weaned wonderfully – ate everything we offered her, then suddenly when she was 14 months old all that changed. She stopped eating fruit, vegetables, anything that was mixed up and she couldn’t separate, so no soups or sauces. She had yoghurt, but only raspberry until one day we tricked her into eating a strawberry yoghurt by taking the wrapping off. Then she only wanted strawberry. We asked the health visitor what to do. She said ‘Does she eat potato? Yes, that’s OK then, that’s a vegetable.’ She wouldn’t try sweets. We made her try some ice cream once and she liked it, but will still only eat vanilla or chocolate. Once we bought a very nice ice cream with real vanilla in it and she wouldn’t try it because of the little black bits. Happily, since she started school, she now eats some vegetables but she still won’t try most things or drink anything other than water.
Our second daughter does try things. She loves fruit and olives, chicken curry and pasta with tomato sauce. Unfortunately she doesn’t like most meats. No ham, sausages or fish fingers. In other words, none of the things which our older daughter eats. The only things they both like are cheese and yoghurt.
When our son was born we though that at least we couldn’t add to the complexity of mealtimes. He was bound to be somewhere between the two. It turns out he loves food. Almost any food. Unfortunately he turned out to be allergic to milk. The poor soul had nappy rash by the time he was a fortnight old, even though he was having 14 nappy changes a day, because of milk. His weight fell off the bottom of the growth chart, and I had to go, brandishing his red book at the health visitor, saying See, something really is wrong! after having been told ‘The more the better’ when I had asked just how many dirty nappies a baby should have. Thank goodness he wasn’t on formula and I could just cut dairy out of my diet.
It didn’t make mealtimes easier.
At some point my vegetarianism went out the window. It just couldn’t survive in the midst of everyone else’s needs and wants. We have a very boring rotation of meals which means that no-one goes more than a couple of days going hungry because they hate what’s for dinner, and at least once a week everyone gets something they really like.
As I said, our son loves most things. He is the least particular of any of us, from chillis to kiwifruit, from pasta to … milk. Last week at preschool he managed to get hold of some milk. By the time he was spotted and had it taken away he had drunk half the carton. We watched and waited and the result was ……. nothing! He didn’t react to it at all! For the last few days I have put cows’ milk on his breakfast cereal and so far so good. I really think he has now grown out of his allergy. Thank goodness for that! I think a celebratory ice cream might be in order.