I have to admit that when I was a kid, I was the pickiest when it came to food. Sorry mom. Rice was my go-to meal because my mom wanted me to actually eat and be somewhat nourished. I would refuse to eat anything I was not comfortable with. 

Lunch was a constant struggle, as my mom tried to switch up my lunch box, from rice to vegetables. I would bring my lunch box back just as it had been packed. Eventually, my pickiness got on my mom’s nerves, and she forced me to switch from a lunch box to a school cafeteria tray.

At first I decided I would simply not eat. I just threw my food in the trash as I had seen a few other picky eaters do, or simply avoid the cafeteria. My stomach thought otherwise. Avoiding the cafeteria did not mean avoiding my hunger.

Taking the First Bite

gastronomy, pizza
Parisa Soraya

I decided I would actually give it a try. My first meal was meat with mashed potatoes and broccoli. The first bite was not bad. In fact, I realized I liked broccoli… and meat… and mashed potatoes. But the fact that it was supposed to be a punishment stopped me from finishing my meal.

So my list of just rice turned into meat, broccoli, smashed potatoes. Chicken, carrots, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, cauliflower, and even spinach followed soon after. But my mom did not know that, since every day after school when she asked me how my lunch went, I would answer “disgusting."

After a month of the same response, my worried mom decided my “punishment” might never work, and offered my lunch box back. I decided to put my pride aside, since lunch was now something I looked forward to during school.

For those picky eaters who refuse to eat in the school cafeteria, here is some advice:

1. Don’t judge a food by its cover 

Vegetables, grilled calamari, tomatoes, brocoli, cauliflower
Shelby Cohron

Some meals might not look appetizing, but that does not define their taste. Guessing the flavor does not guarantee the taste, so just give it a try. You might end up liking it.

2. Find what you actually like

gastronomy, soup, vegetable
Becky Hughes

In many school cafeterias, there are several options. You can always vary your plate, making every day different if you like switching it up. If you do not mind eating the same thing every day, like I used to, then find that one thing that floats your boat.

3. Make sure to keep it nutritious

salad, cheese
Lauren Arendt

Some things taste better than others, but they may not be nutritious. Eating only rice does not suffice when it comes to getting the protein, vitamins, and minerals that you need in every meal. Make sure to keep your plate balanced.

Eating in the school cafeteria removed me from the picky eaters club and made me a part of the eats-everything club. Most importantly, by eating in my school cafeteria, I learned how to eat. It taught me how to eat actual nutritient-rich meals. 

Now, I can’t even think of something I don’t like, which is what keeps my body nourished. So, thank you mom, and thank you to my school cafeteria for introducing me to the extraordinary world of food.