It's not just kids who do well with dessert
I don’t like fish. I know, shock horror, I am a dietitian who doesn’t like fish. Isn’t that mandatory for your health? I also don’t like mushrooms or aubergines, I hate shellfish and I didn’t use to like pork but I do now. Not that I want to yuck someone else’s yum but let’s be honest there are always some foods we don’t like, for whatever reasons.
So back to fish. I used to like it as a kid. That and shellfish. Growing up in Whangarei I was fortunate to have extended family who liked to fish and gather shellfish. I loved it. But then I ate a few too many pipis that still had a smidgen of gritty sand in them and I don’t even remember why I started to dislike fish but there you go, I do.
The problem for me is that my kids love it. So I am trying to learn to like it, and some days I succeed and other days I don’t.
Last night we had fish. I wasn’t really that excited about eating it so I hadn’t thought much further than buying the stuff. So when it came time to cook it I realized I didn’t have a plan. Also a disorganized meal week, note to self: reintroduce planning the week’s meals. I had forgotten to buy lemon, with which to drown out strong flavours and I’d been busy in the afternoon so ended up with about 20 minutes to get dinner on the table.
I found myself debating whether to offer dessert (ice-cream tonight). We don’t have dessert at every meal and I didn’t think it was necessary at this meal. But I realized I wanted it, it wasn’t for the kids, it was for me. I wanted the ice-cream so that I would feel better about the meal. I was the one feeling a little anxious about eating the fish. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the meal and so having ice-cream meant that at least I could finish my meal with something I enjoyed.
Phew glad I made that realization. Ice-cream it is then.
I recommend serving dessert at the same time as the rest of the main meal for a few reasons and one of them is that it helps children, and adults, to feel less anxious when faced with unfamiliar or disliked foods. As an adult I still eat my dessert at the end of the meal but by allowing children to eat it when they want, they may then feel better able to experience other foods. While all other foods are unlimited, dessert is limited at dinner to one serve.
Once I had decided on dessert I felt myself relaxing. I then came up with a plan for the rest of the meal. Even this was a little unusual for me as dessert is usually the last thing I decide on, but it seems I was that uncomfortable that I couldn’t think what else to serve with the fish. I came up with a lovely tomato and courgette dish with garlic and balsamic vinegar – lots of yummy flavours I enjoy, along with some couscous. I pan-fried the fish fillets in butter – quick and easy, just how dinner needs to be.
I was a happy cook now.
Dinner was served. The kids demolished their fish and loved it. You know what? I quite liked it too. Maybe fish is one of those things I can learn to like. Looks like I’ll have to if my kids have anything to say about it.