Tomatoes are the Enemy

This is not a safe space for tomato lovers.

If your child is a picky eater, it’s likely their diet seems to solely consist of mac n’ cheese and dinosaur chicken nuggets. I can’t blame them, really. What child would choose the strange textures and bland palette of vegetables when carbohydrates exist? That was my mindset as a child, and, admittedly, I still think this way.

From a parenting perspective, I can see how this is concerning. You’re worried that your child will not get the proper nutrients if their plate consists of foods that share a color family. I’m no nutritionist, but I am here to say that it’s not the end of the world. Your child’s food aversions will improve with time…for most foods.

Growing up, I had a hard time understanding how adults were so brave about trying interesting food choices, and not much has changed in my adulthood. I’ve tried new foods as they came my way, put them on my “safe” list and others on my “still-hate” list, but there’s one pesky vegetable (or fruit, depending on your beliefs) I can’t quite shake: the tomato.

It baffles me how tomatoes have become such a staple. Tomato sauce, marinara sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes are marked as safe, but thick slices of cold, raw tomato on my otherwise delicious turkey and swiss sandwich, shrimp poboy, or cheeseburger? That’s an offense in my book. There are few things more heartbreaking than when you order a sandwich at a restaurant, forget to ask for no tomatoes, and then see the enemy nestled between two slices of bread when you go to take that first bite. Believe me, I’ve tried to like tomatoes. They have disappointed me with every attempt: the slick texture; the overly wet burst of tomatoey flesh underneath your teeth; the bitter, acidic aftertaste. It’s enough to make my mouth turn down and my nose turn up just thinking about it.

Don’t worry, I have a vehement distaste for other foods. Tomatoes are a tad more offensive because they are everywhere. I cannot rest without worrying about the whereabouts of raw tomatoes in my food. And, if your child seems to be the same way–whether with tomatoes or any other food–there’s a chance they may not outgrow it like me. They may grow to love tomatoes, or you may feel like you’ll be teasing them about their tomato hatred for the rest of their lives. Either way, your child shouldn’t feel bad about disliking a certain food. If you’re really concerned about your child’s lack of fruit and/or vegetable intake, you can always make fruit smoothies, whisk up some vegetable sauces, disguise the fruits/veggies in their foods, or buy gummy multivitamins for them to take daily. There are plenty of ways to supplement all those good nutrients in anyone’s diet. When in doubt, talk to your pediatrician about it. Just don’t expect your child (or me) to be on friendly terms with all foods once they reach adulthood.

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