Once I heard a story about a couple who wanted to experiment with food and decided that each day of the week they would eat single colored foods representing each color of the rainbow. The experiment went well the first four days with red, orange, yellow and green foods, but it got overwhelming during the last 3 days with blue, indigo and violet foods. Not only the colors got harder with fewer foods choices to select from but the monotony of single ingredients got to be dreadful and of course this adventurous couple gave up their experiment.
Have you ever asked yourself what drives our obsession with food? What makes us select certain foods and avoid others? What causes the most expert nutritionist to be insanely driven towards chocolate? Food not only nourishes our bodies but offers infinite pleasure to our minds.
We approach food through our senses. We see, smell, taste and touch food. As food enters our body through our mouth every sensory organ is awake and responding, sending messages to our brain where we interpret them based on previous experiences. Then, we either experience pleasure or not, and that is what drives our behavior.
When it comes to food and eating, logic and knowledge have very little power over our feelings, memories and emotions. Yes, we can control ourselves, we can teach our youth the value of healthy meals and we can remove vending machines from school cafeterias but the real change has to occur within our own minds. We have to learn and teach our children how to appreciate food in different ways. It is imperative that we see the beauty and bounty of nature in our food and that we develop reverence for it.
I don’t know anyone that is not awed by the beauty of a rainbow. It is our mandate as adults, parents and educators to instill in our children that same sense of awe towards the bounty that comes from the earth. Food awareness is low in children. They don’t know anything about food except what we teach them.
“Because is good for you” is not a good enough reason for a young one to try a new food. When offering a new food to your child get creative. Involve your child’s senses in discovering the different qualities of the food. Give him new words that describe its color, taste, texture and aroma and most of all make this a positive, joyous experience that in the future will determined your child’s preferences.
Parents have the privilege of building the library of memories that children will use to design their future. Give your children a delicious, technicolor world.