I’ve got a little story to share that involves my Erin, Wagamama’s, and something about your taste buds that might surprise you..
A couple of weeks ago my Erin celebrated her 14th birthday.
As a family treat, the kids unanimously voted for Wagamama’s.
Now, Erin is notorious for being a bit of a fussy eater. She tends to equate seasoning with ‘spiciness’ and often defaults to the children’s menu at most places.
We decided to kick off the meal with a few Duck Bao Buns, not thinking Erin would be remotely interested. To our surprise she was not only curious but proceeded to demolish an entire bun. Mrs. P and I exchanged glances, wondering if this sudden food adventure was linked to Erin’s teenage growth spurt—a biological craving for protein and iron, perhaps?
This episode got me thinking about an amazing experiment conducted in 1928 by Paediatrician Clara Davis.
15 newly-weaned infants (6-11 months old) given the freedom to choose what, when, and how much they wanted to eat. Davis presented them with a diverse selection of 33 foods, from ground beef and bone marrow, to milk, green vegetables, liver and kidney.
These infants were too young to feed themselves. Nurses stood by silently, holding spoons, making no moves until the infants requested specific foods. No set feeding times, and food was always available.
What unfolded was nothing short of remarkable.
Contrary to expectations, the toddlers didn’t gravitate towards the sweetest options. Instead, they chose foods that best nourished them. During growth spurts, protein consumption spiked, while periods of peak activity saw an increase in carbs and fat. There’s even an intriguing anecdote about a child named Earl with severe vitamin D deficiency and rickets, who enthusiastically consumed cod liver oil daily until he was cured.
By the experiment’s conclusion, one doctor described the children as ‘the finest group of specimens’ in their age group. The beauty of it all? These little humans knew nothing about carbs, fat, or protein; they just ate what felt right.
What’s interesting is that in the absence of a uniform diet, no two toddlers had the same dietary preferences. Yet, over the course of all their meals, a natural balance emerged.
There’s a caveat, though. Davis deliberately excluded processed foods from the experiment. The sweetest options available were limited to milk and fruit. She had plans for a follow-up experiment involving processed foods, but the Great Depression threw a spanner in the works, leading to a cut in research funds. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely such an experiment would be replicated today due to ethics.
Nevertheless, this study’s impact on the importance of nutrition is undeniable. I can’t help but think of its relevance for us adults, yet our nutritional waters are muddied by the volume of processed food we consume.
The toddlers could have opted for the same foods. They could have gone for high-fat or overly sweet options. They could have eaten constantly. But they didn’t.
The key takeaway?
In the absence of processed foods, our bodies might be smarter than we think. So, here’s a thought: maybe it’s time for you to tap into your inner child when it comes to food choices. Not suggesting you eat baby food, but perhaps there’s merit in listening to our bodies more, minus the processed stuff.
Have a great evening.