Surviving Teenagers Or Why They Don't Eat Cabbage

30/03/2011 11:35 | Updated 22 May 2015

When my children were little, I used to make them eat puréed swede. I cut up red peppers into little slivers and grated raw carrot. I chopped up apples and bananas. We were a five-a-day campaign before it had even started.

Now look at the mess we're in.

'It hasn't got mushrooms in it, has it?' says my 15-year-old suspiciously.

As if. She's like the princess and the pea - she could reject a whole meal because of one tiny fleck of black.

'What do you want with your pizza?' I ask my 17-year-old. I wasn't expecting him to say spinach or purple sprouting broccoli. But I sort of hoped he might say salad. 'Sausages,' he says.

I think the problem is that teenagers like food that requires minimal manipulation. Anything that can be speared with one stab, or held between fingers, is better than something that needs a knife and fork, like beetroot. My daughter is particularly anxious about anything slimy, which - because most vegetables are 99% water - covers most of the fresh produce aisle in the local supermarket.

Potatoes, somehow, get away with this critical scrutiny, but even then my options are becoming increasingly limited.

'Boiled?' says my eldest, plaintively.

'Baked?' I offer.

'How about chips?' he says kindly.

The worst thing about all this vegetable rejection is that they look so utterly healthy. They are not yet frightened by the idea of free radicals because they have no wrinkles and perfect eyesight.

You wait, I think to myself as I scrape cold cabbage into the bin. When you're young, you believe the day will never come. But I promise, years from now, you will stuff yourself with vitamins and minerals in the vain hope of warding off the signs of permanent decrepitude.

You may even find yourself liking brussels sprouts.

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