Thanks for your comments! My kids are now six (the essay is a few years old) and they do eat quite a wide range of foods and lots of fresh fruit and veg. I’ve never subscribed to the “kid food” fad. I suspect to some extent it has been influenced by companies that sell and promote processed foods, because so many “kid foods” — pizza, chicken nuggets, etcetera, are so unhealthy but convenient and easy-to-prepare. (I recommend Michael Moss’s book Salt Sugar Fat for more on this issue.)
We do eat dinner as a family on most nights and I never offer alternatives to what’s on the menu. My response to “I don’t like that,” is “you don’t have to eat it.” I wish I could have reassured my earlier self that one day my kids would be eating pickled garlic and fresh artichokes dipped in a butter sauce.