Pin It
Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Managing a Picky Eater with International Travel

By
Managing a picky eater with international travel: Credit: flickr/CarbonNYC

I have a really picky eater. I mean really picky. She has one and one only brand of peanut butter, rice milk and crackers – the list is really long. One of each item, none of which were available for the 18 days we travelled through Spain and France. I should also mention this kid is really, really thin.

 

Of course I was worried about what she’d eat. The answer was expected: not much. She did at least try a few new foods, mainly under duress, and she lived off fruit and bread. I had to remind myself that bread has been a diet staple for thousands of years. That didn’t make it right — or nutritious — but at least she didn’t starve as I’d originally feared.

 

The food issue was one of our compromises (as are so many issues of childrearing). We asked Rylie to try new foods and then let her settle back with her boring hamburger and bread. While our oldest daughter discovered seafood, especially paella, and our toddler noshed on cassoulet, veal cordon bleu and sea bream, our middle daughter wrinkled her nose and shoved another piece of baguette in her mouth.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m bothered by my daughter’s unwillingness to branch out. Her taste buds even shun French fries and pizza — how un-American is that? But we got her to try Iberian ham and pheasant, which she enjoyed enough to eat a full helping. She nibbled Valencia oranges, local strawberry preserves, Saturn peaches and even tried (though she didn’t like) goat cheese. Our request was always the same: try one bite. You don’t have to eat all of it, but you have to try.

 

While my oldest daughter Madeleine embraced each new food experience, studying the menu intently to find something she’d never tried before, Rylie settled on the only thing on the menu she had eaten previously. I wasn’t really surprised by this because Madeleine has always been a much more adventurous eater. She ate mussels and odd-sounding fish. She tried custards and purple cauliflower. She accepted each new experience with enthusiasm and interest, and while she didn’t like the big prawns, she found that she loved the Catalan method of cooking stews and duck confit. It’s the willingness to push her boundaries that we are trying (and failed) to instill in her younger sister.

 

Both my husband and I can remember times when we, like Rylie, would simply look at a dish and decide it was unacceptable. We understand that food is experienced first by the eyes, then the nose and finally the mouth. I can understand her resistance, to a point, anyway. I still found myself frustrated with each scrunch of her nose and shake of her head. For now, I have to settle for the fact that Rylie at least attempted something new.

 

We may have failed in the short-term, but over time we’ve set the foundation for experimentation. We’ve shown Rylie and our other girls that different methods of preparing green beans can be just as good as the sauteeing I do at home. She learned that fish can be fried or served en papillote. Whether she liked it or not, she now knows there are different methods to cook the same ingredient.

 

Perhaps the most important realization for Rylie is that my way of seasoning dishes isn’t typical of Barcelona or Carcassonne. She, like the rest of us, smelled and saw different foods than those that typically grace our table. The good news is Rylie willingly branched out beyond her one brand of peanut butter.

© 2014, Anna Philpot. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

The most comprehensive list of language learning resources

How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband

And why this is the number one fight in our household

Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don't Think I Speak Mandarin

The awesome stuff I overhear like what these two Chinese women think of foreigners.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Anna Philpot enjoys cooking and hiking when she isn’t writing. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her three children, illustrator-husband and giant dog Mozart.

Leave us a comment!

2 Comments
  1. CommentsFiona   |  Monday, 31 March 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I also have a really picky eater! My 3 year old sounds exactly like this and, while not scared to travel, I do get very sad that he can’t experience the joy of a fresh dim sum, a juicy steak or a true Italian pizza. I feel so sorry for him as the rest of us look forward to each meal, he approaches the dining table with apprehension. We’ve tried everything, as I’m sure have you, we eat as a family, he eats with kids his own age, we’ve bribed, punished, nagged, taken him shopping for food, we always cook together. This summer we took him on a round of specialist appointments to see if there was anything medical or psychological but… nothing. Now we’ve accepted our picky eater we just focus on making mealtimes as fun as possible always providing something we know he’ll like. I travel abroad with a big bag of raisins and bread and when we arrive we hit the markets together to see what shape the apples are. We insist he licks everything and have had some great memories of him wolfing Chinese lingao (traditional cake we make at new year), eating dried mango and, one day, finally accepting plain white rice and plain pasta, which he now feeds himself. I know it didn’t sound like much but to a Chinese / Italian family, acceptance of these staples has made each meal much more joyous. Fingers crossed your picky eater grows out of it at puberty (which is our hope) and can eat her way around the world with the rest of you.

  2. CommentsMrs.Mom   |  Friday, 09 January 2015 at 7:34 am

    Your article was the first of any I have read that I could relate to. My son, 11, is the same and traveling with him is just a disaster. Once we traveled to Bora Bora with a suitcase full of food just to make sure he didn’t starve. We are now reluctant to travel with him at all because it is just so hard it overshadows the whole trip. How can you go sight-see all day in Europe with him, he won’t eat anywhere you choose for lunch or dinner. We can’t even go out to eat with him at home in the US, how will I ever feed him in a foreign country. It is sad too because I know our daughter would love to travel and see and eat her way across the world with us. Sigh.









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
For quite sometime, whenever there were articles that surfaced the internet concerning whether it was appropriate to breastfeed in public, I was so baffled. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that som...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
For quite some whenever there was articles circulated on the internet concerning whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered i...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
I live with my Czech in laws with my four children and my Czech is crap I try to learn but the baby doesn't sleep well I'm a constant zombie and the brain just doesn't work. Plus being tired makes m...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I am so glad I found this site. I am happy to see that I am not alone in experiencing 'family issues' after getting married. I am not from the West but I am married to a Canadian. I never truly unde...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] my most favourite article about breastfeeding called Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan by Ruth Kamnitzer. I have no doubt that Mongolians would find our social stigmas around [R...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] sources and reasons for the rules of these countries too, such as China, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, and Hungary (see above re “Titanic”).  Has anyone got s...
From International Baby Naming Laws–Are They a Good Thing?
[…] Source Inculture Parents […...
From Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)
If your nerves shat down your hormones , can you get pregnant by injecting a sperm in you to develop a baby . Please let me know...
From Baby-Making the Hindu Way
[…] Diwali Lantern from InCultureParent […...
From Diwali Craft: Make a Lantern

More Globetrotting