Apples used to be one of the foods we could reliably feed to Grady and know he'd eat it without complaint. It didn't matter what type of apple. It didn't matter if it was sliced or whole. He was happy to eat an apple, and we were happy he was eating fresh fruit.
In the last year or so, as his picky eating increased, his love of apples decreased to the point where he would only eat a certain type of apple, and only if it was sliced, and he would try to remove as much of the peel with his nails as possible, leaving a sad heap of apple skin curled up on the side of his plate.
I refuse to fight about food. (I-refuse-to-fight-about-food-I-refuse-to-fight-about-food-I-refuse-to-fight-about-food-DEEP BREATH.) I don't want to spend mealtimes nagging Grady to eat. It's not enjoyable for anyone.
When we were embroiled in our #poopdoula days, Grady's doctor told me that little kids can control two things in their lives: what goes into their body, and what comes out. Obviously this doesn't fit every situation, but for us, she suggested we stop over-thinking and just let Grady sort it out. She gave us suggestions to support us, and we're doing our best to support him, and the "what comes out" part of the equation resolved itself in time. Now we're just left with the "what goes into Grady's body" part.
In an effort to stop over-thinking, and to let Grady feel like he's in control, I decided to let him dictate what type of apples we eat. We went to the grocery store and picked out an assortment of apples. We brought them home and had a fun little taste test (or as Grady explained it, we did science in the kitchen!).
We bought seven types of apples because I knew I would use up the leftovers to make Poppy's applesauce. If you don't have a use for a bunch of cut up apples, this taste test is just as fun with three or four apples.
We brought the apples home and Grady wrote their names on index cards. We chatted about the different colours and shapes, and Grady made predictions about which apples he would like best. If Grady was older, I would have made him write down his observations and predictions, but at five (and a half!) it took long enough to just write the names and I was trying to make the most of his attention span.
Next Grady put the apples in order from biggest to smallest. Then I washed and he dried them (teamwork!). I cut two slices from each apple and Grady put the slices on the associated card. He thought long and hard about the order in which we'd taste the apples.
After all our prep, we were finally ready to eat some apples. We "cheers"ed each slice and ranked the apples on a scale from 1-10 (which quickly became a scale of 1-400 because of course it did).
Warning: proud mama moment ahead. Grady tried every apple. I honestly didn't expect him to. He was totally unfamiliar with at least three of the types of apples we bought but he took a bite of every single slice. There were a couple he didn't finish but he didn't spit out a single mouthful.
In the end, Grady decided he likes four different apples. His favourite was Granny Smith (which was not a surprise, it's the only type of apple he's eaten for months,) followed by Royal Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady. Before he did any tasting, he thought his favourite was going to be Golden Delicious, which turned out to be his least favourite after he tasted them all.
It was an interesting experience (for both of us, I think). It was a good reminder for me to give Grady more credit. When I take my time and listen to him (and stop nagging) he's more than willing to work with me. And I hope he's able to absorb the lesson too. He tried new things. They weren't terrible. And I listened to him. I hope it all sinks in and this is one step closer to less food stress.
How do you encourage your picky eater to try new things?