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The All-Nugget Diet

It’s not all my fault, though. Your brother is an adventurous eater who’s been happily swallowing sushi, tofu, and artichoke dip since he could say the word “delicious.” How was I to know you’d be so fussy? How could I have predicted your taste range would start off so meager and then — inexplicably, alarmingly — shrink from there? Remember when you used to like eggs? And yogurt? And hummus? Ew. Ick. No, thanks. Then there was the time you begged me to pay — in advance — for a year’s worth of pizza lunches at preschool, then cried every Friday because you had to eat it. You’re killing me with this stuff. But you’re crafty. You’ve got me running all over town hunting down those chicken-ish nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. (Not the ones shaped like Mickey Mouse! Not the other brand of dino nuggets! The ones from crying-out-loud Canada!) It’s the only meat you’ll touch, so I tell myself that the value of eating something whose primary ingredient is not “enriched wheat flour” outweighs the potential risks of ingesting processed, breaded, frozen mini-pterodactyls containing something called guar gum and, gulp, L-Cysteine Monohydrochloride. I’m probably wrong. But the child nutrition experts are wrong, sometimes, too. They proclaim, “Kids love to dip! Serve them veggies with cups of ranch dressing!” They instruct, “Make mealtime fun! Arrange healthy foods in the shape of a funny face!” You won’t have it. Any attempt to cute-up your lunch earns me a look that says, unmistakably, “You could dip that zucchini in hot fudge and roll it in jelly beans. I’m not getting near it.” To be honest, I’m impressed with your resolve. When I hand you a plate and you don’t like what’s on it, there’s never any panic in your voice. No latent fear that I might somehow succeed in getting the morsels down your gullet. There’s only chilling certainty. “I won’t,” you say. And you don’t. But I’m tired of the hassle, frankly. I’ve had it with nuking your nuggets or toasting your waffles while I’m busy chopping and broiling a healthy, colorful, balanced meal for the rest of us. The experts — and let’s give them one more chance, shall we? They don’t call them that for nothing — assure me that when you only offer one choice, eventually, after much pouting and tummy-grumbling, it will be eaten. So you win. We’re all switching to nuggets. Guar gum be damned.]]>

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