Just Eat It

What, how and why I eat are eminently changeable. When I was young, my "diet" was carved in stone - I ate a sum total of five vegetables: corn, potatoes, carrots, celery and French-style cut green beans from a can. Oh, and the carrots and celery had to be raw. Period. I loved hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and hamburgers. I would eat a bologna sandwich on white bread, but please don't think I ever put mayonnaise, mustard or tomato on it. There were a few nearly inexplicable outliers: corned beef hash (from a can), vegetable beef soup (from a specific brand name can), and Braunschweiger (yeah, that's liverwurst). The world can thank my paternal grandmother for those oddities. I probably survived on Saltine crackers and American cheese slices wrapped in cellophane. I remember lying in bed at night when I was no more than 10 years old with my piece of American cheese, folding it in half, eating half, folding it again, eating half, folding it again… Exploring the Euclidean geometry of the disappearing rectangles, taking longer with each successively smaller piece, always considering whether I could have another slice when I reached the end.

In short, I've been obsessed with food since I was very young. Taste, smell, texture, appearance, size, combinations, sequence, quantity, quality - It all matters to me. I believe I was so specific when I was younger because I had very little control over the variables. There was really only one option if I didn't want something: Refuse to eat it. And I hated going hungry more than just about anything. In fact, I remember numerous times that I chose a spanking as punishment over losing a meal. I might be in tears through the meal, but I was going to eat, doggone it!

So when someone levied the phrase that is the title of this post at me - "Just eat it!" - it fell short of the mark every time. I would not "just eat it". If it was something like baked chicken breast, there was a strong chance I would avoid it. If it was something like {gag} potato salad, you could damn well forget it!

Here's the rub I've run into. Now that I'm older, I eat a much larger variety of foods. I still eschew mayonnaise and mustard in just about everything besides deviled eggs. However… I have these two small people to whom I've given birth. Considering that I've been eating kale and quinoa nearly their entire lives, you'd think they would be mini-me's in the eating arena. Well, they are - Mini-younger-me's who have very limited, particular diets.

Now, before you tell me that most kids don't have sophisticated palates and many kids don't eat veggies until they're older, let me head you off at the pass. My kids? They like a few fruits. That's about it. I have at least learned that struggling with them doesn't work. Trying to force them to try a bite, even just a single nibble, doesn't work. Did I assist in creating this situation? Yes. Do I know how to fix it? Nope. I encourage them to try new foods and every once in a great while we experience a breakthrough. For now, the speed of snails is our pace. So long as I'm not repeating my past, I am at peace.