As I mentioned in my previous post, I did encounter many experiences as a child in which my parents would force me to eat food that I didn’t like or forced me to eat even when I didn’t feel hungry. Unlike most families today, my family still gathers together every night to eat dinner at the table. We have been doing this since I was kid so it has become part of our routine as a family. I was one of those children who would become very uninterested in eating and I didn’t feel hungry most of the time. We don’t know the reason for this, but my mom said that she was the same way when she was my age. So whenever we would gather at the table my parents made it clear that we couldn’t leave unless we finished our food.
What stood out to me the most from the article “You Will Eat All of That!” was when they said that “In this authority figure scenario, respondents recalled the episode as involving interpersonal conflict and negative affect, and identified the most aversive aspects of this scenario as lack of control and feelings of helplessness. Furthermore, most respondents (72%) reported that they would not willingly eat the target food today.” My sister and I struggled to finish our food since we simply weren’t fond of eating a lot as children — a majority of the time, we lacked the feeling of hunger. Most of our meals consisted of rice, usually jasmine rice or asian sticky rice as the main portion of the meal, along with ulam, which is what Filipinos call the side dish that you eat along with your rice. For some reason I never really liked rice, which my mom thought was very unusual. I was more interested in eating the ulam because it had more flavor. Because of my refusal to eat my food, especially the rice, I would wind up getting in trouble. This led to my developed negativity toward eating rice in general. Another part of the article that stood out to me was when they mentioned how food preferences can develop through positive or negative experiences. In the article it said that “food preferences can develop if a specific food is presented in positive social situations or used as a reward. Furthermore, Birch and Fisher argued that foods that are presented in negative social situations (i.e. coercion of eating is involved) may be rejected. Thus, a specific food may be rejected not only because of its sensory properties or its association with illness, but also because it is associated with negative effect or negative social consequences.” My experience with eating as a child was negative, especially those times when I had to eat everything with rice even when I didn’t prefer it. I would not get a good response from my parents if I did not eat all of my rice and ulam. Simply put, if I didn’t finish all my rice, my sister and I would experience some form of negative feedback from my parents like yelling, which was frightening to us as children. Even today, I don’t really enjoy including rice in my meals because of my dislike for it as a child and the negative experiences that I had along with it.
Also, according the results collected from the questionnaire, they mentioned that people who have experienced a forced consumption episode are more likely to become “picky eaters” as adults. For me, I wasn’t a very picky eater as a child, I just simply had a dislike with rice because of being forced to eat it, and I felt like the rice didn’t have much flavor which didn’t really appeal to me. My mom said that she didn’t have a problem with us being picky with vegetables, meat or seafood (top foods mentioned in the article as most commonly forced substances) as children. In fact, I loved eating vegetables (my parents grew many different kinds of organic vegetables in our backyard), meat and especially seafood. My parents grew up in a province by the sea in the Philippines and they grew up eating seafood. Because of that, my sister and I have grown up with eating lots of fish, squid, mussels, clams, oysters, etc. Because of the fact that I wasn’t a picky eater as a child, I’m not a picky eater now as an adult. But I do agree with the article that there can be a correlation between forced consumption episodes and selective eating preferences. Just because that situation didn’t really apply to me, doesn’t mean that it applies to other people. Some of my cousins have become really picky eaters because of forced consumption episodes when they were younger, causing them to not like certain foods now that they are older—one of them being seafood.
Reading this article reminded me a lot of Bruce and his chocolate cake incident from the movie Matilda: