Following a bizarre but worrying spell of refusing to eat anything except fish fingers wrapped in tinfoil I was taken to the doctor. The GP tried to keep a straight face as my mother told him that her three-year-old was demanding her dinner be upgraded to shiny gifts that could be “unwrapped”, and was refusing to eat anything else.
“I’ve never known a child starve themselves,” was his advice. “She’ll get bored soon enough.”
That was 1985, proof that fussy eaters are nothing new, despite Prue Leith’s assertion that “parents make fussy eaters”, hitting the headlines last weekend. While baking might be a fine science, the incendiary debate around food and parenting is much more nuanced than that.
My position on the role of food sits somewhere between functional fuel and an excuse for a party, and my three-year-old daughter has the same approach. She is a glorious gannet who has been eating solids since four months old.
She has sugar, hates tomatoes, loves olives, we cook together, and she shares her ice cream.
I can’t complain, in fact I’m lucky. If she doesn’t want to finish her meal then she doesn’t have to (if you don’t want a kid with issues around eating then don’t weaponise food, simple).
Not everyone has such a positive dinner-time tale to tell. In fact every parent I know struggles with some kind of eating disorder — either their own (almost every woman I know is obses-sed with the calories in everything), or their kids’ — not to mention the four out of 10 children who are set to leave school obese in 2024.
How are we getting it so wrong? It doesn’t matter which postcode you live in or how much you earn, a picky eater is universal.
It is the great 6pm leveller the capital over. And the root of it all? There is the misconception that childhood should be only magical and pristine, that everyone should be fed, spotless and trouble-free.
But let’s not forget there have always been fat kids, unhealthy kids, those painfully thin, sickly kids.
So instead of getting preoccupied with a race to the top of the school canteen that thrives on schadenfreude as we gleefully watch Alice triumph over Jake because he will only eat nuggets, while she loves risotto, ask yourself: are you worrying about your fussy eater because of their nutritional deficit, or because you’re embarrassed about the scene he causes in Pizza East? It’s time for those with time on their hands to stop criticising overworked, time-poor, financially stretched parents for not providing Yotam Ottolenghi salads at dinner time.
And parents, let’s relax a little. Make an issue of them not eating, and it shall become one.
Remember, parenting is a war of attrition. Whatever you do, don’t let them know they’re winning.
The awkward part of equal pay laws
As the gender pay war rages on and top women in business demand a new law ensuring that there is full transparency on salaries, it feels like another step in the right direction — albeit one that makes me slightly nervous.
If in the name of equality we are asking men to reveal their salaries as part of a new Equal Pay Act, then it is only fair that women do the same. How else will the shortfalls be fairly assessed?
I am all too aware of the repercussions in the workplace against those women who have the temerity to ask questions around why they are paid as they are. But how would you feel about revealing your wage slip?
Of course, for the good of universal interest my own discomfort is nothing compared to the gains to be made by exposing unfair pay structures.
As a high-earning woman in a male-dominated industry I’m proud of my salary and position, but do I want the rest of my company and my industry to know my income? Making judgments on how I live and how I spend — and what happened to a little thing called privacy? And therein lies the rub.
In the spirit of progress and equality I would reveal my earnings — but that’s not the same as wanting to do so.
From bimbo to boss, Eva inspires us all
There's nothing I love more than an upturned assumption.
Cue Hollywood powerhouse Eva Longoria (pictured), who while starring as sex-crazed bimbo Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Housewives studied for her master’s, writing a thesis on the importance of women of Latin American descent studying STEM subjects. Today, she is taking on Donald Trump and becoming a major studio film director. It’s quite the glow-up. In fact that’s reductive. It’s kick-ass and amazing. Why would we expect anything less?