We were on holiday in Mexico a few weeks ago, and I had to rely on very rusty, rudimentary Spanish to navigate the grocery store. Add on three little humans who had travelled all day and were at the end of their ropes. And it was hot. Usually, I get nerdy about exploring grocery stores in new countries but this time it was a grab- and- go mission.
We have a tradition of making nachos whenever we are on holiday. My non-existant Spanish lead me to the “queso” section and I grabbed my best guess for something close to sharp cheddar and mozza.
A couple days later, I went to open the “cheddar-like” brick and discovered that the orange color was simply a plastic wrapping under the saran wrap. Once I got through that layer, there was another layer of saran wrap to take off. I was immediately assaulted with the putrid, overwhelming stench of rotting, post-workout socks. There was no way I was putting that thing near my mouth, nor on nacho chips. I quickly wrapped it all back up and put it in a ziploc for one extra security layer. I wanted to toss the whole thing out but forced myself to put it back in the fridge. I thought it would be a “good” (AWFUL) experience to force myself through the steps of eating (looking at a food, smelling it, touching it, licking it, chewing it and finally chewing and swallowing). We expect our kids to simply chew and swallow a new food, regardless of their feelings towards it. A pre-verbal child can’t explain to you that the smell of the cheese makes them feel nauseous. We simply forget what it can be like and too quickly pull out the “you need to sit here until you eat it” strategy. I kept imagining if someone made me sit at the table until I finished that block of cheese. I am gagging right now at the thought spending more than three seconds looking at that blessed cheese.
Another few days later, I took the block of cheese out of the fridge, carefully unwrapped it (in such a manner that I wouldn’t have to touch it), breathed through my mouth and squished a piece with my fingers. I licked it, gagged and tossed the whole thing.
It was a good experience to help me empathize with a child when they refuse a food.
CELEBRATE WHETHER THEY LOOK, SMELL, TOUCH OR LICK IT. Give them a couple days before you re-introduce. Re-introduce the food in a different way (maybe the cheese wouldn’t have been so overwhelming if someone had crumbled it on a salad).