Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Attempt to Thwart Meal Time Disasters

After taking development courses and nutrition classes, I knew I was going to make perfect meals for my kids.  They wouldn't eat white bread, sugary cereals, or sweets of any kind.

My Way Or Else

As Emily entered into the tricky world of solids, I allowed only vegetables thinking it would stop any sweet tooth from forming.  She refused, politely and not so politely, to accept my diet plan.  So I caved and started giving her fruits.  By that point, she was well beyond purees and wanted textures.  And then she wanted the stuff on my plate.   Soon she refused any sort of food that I offered and demanded what she wanted.  These power struggles were leading no where.  I was getting more frustrated and Emily was becoming more picky.

Stick To Your Guns

Meal times often felt like a battle field.  With me and my prepared meal on one side, and Emily on the other.  We converge together in the middle and the victor (usually Emily) chooses the outcome.

I am learning to let go of this fight mentality and let meal times be enjoyable.  I give Emily options on her plate.  She has the fruit, the vegetables, and the grains placed in front of her.  If Emily chooses to pick out all the vegetables in a dish, so be it.  If she wants cereal rather than what I've offered, okay.  In avoiding these fights, Emily has become more open-minded when it comes to eating.  She, my ever independent daughter, feels like she is getting what she really wants: choices.

A Different Approach

With Andrew and solids, I tried a different route.  I gave him fruits to start, then added rice cereal, included a few vegetables, and finally a little meats.  He had no qualms with my approach and has quickly become the best eater in the house, maybe only beaten by his father.  I am sure his personality comes into play, but I also feel that by being less authoritarian in how I supervise his meals, I make him feel safe in eating so he can enjoy it rather than dread it.

Though I have kept our breads limited to wheat and our cereals non-sugary, I have let my kids splurge on the occasional, gasp, sweets.  (Ok. Let's be honest.  During the holiday season, the "occasional sweet" is actually an every day sweet.  Hey, it only comes but once a year!)  At the end of the day, I feel less stressed more empowered as I allow more options.

Frankly, I'm proud of how I feed my kids.

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  1. Mealtime is fraught with landmines at our house, too. I make one meal, and the kids choose whether to eat it or not. Unfortunately, we're trapped in the "How many more bites till I get dessert, Mom?" game, and I'm desperately trying to put an end to that. Andy ideas??

  2. Advice from me? Though I sound like I am the Queen of Meal Times, I am not. I dread making food because I never know when the kids will like or reject something.

    I think you know what is best. Frankly, I think that even if they are only taking bites to get dessert, at least they are eating. Right? In the end they are trying the food and will eventually love it! I'll be the first to admit that dessert often comes first at our house. : )

  3. I've had to do with Becca what you're doing with Emily. Give up the fight, fill her plate with many options, and hope for the best! It's made such a difference in our home. =)

  4. I'm with Stacia: mealtimes have become the lowpoints of our days. And it seems like my boys take turns. For months, Big Boy refused to eat anything he was served (even if it was a food he'd declared his "favorite" the day before). Now it's Tiny Baby's turn. He'll eat a bite of whatever he's served and then demand dessert.

    I know I'll be checking back to read more tips from helpful and non-judgmental parents who seem to be winning the mealtime wars!

  5. Amber, we often don't play by the rules when it comes to appropriate meals. My daughter loves Indian food, so often times I am cooking plenty of veggies and lentils. Because she eats this food so well, I feel like I can give her an occasional treat, ranging from a sip of soda to fruit rollups. Some may see that as being a bad mom, but hey most of the time she is eating well at home.

  6. I, too, have two different eaters. Javi refused potatoes for a long time, but ate pretty much everything else -- including veggies. Then came Bella who rarely lets a veggie pass her lips. I tried hiding a microscopic square of sauteed mushroom in her mashed potatoes and she ate around it. She also won't eat meat that has any seasoning or color on it. So if we grill chicken, we have to cut away the outside, etc. WTF.

    I prepare a regular meal for everyone and add one of the veggies I know she'll eat to her plate. Those are tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, or corn. She'll eat plain rice (never with any seasoning or gravy) and shredded, unseasoned chicken/beef. Who's kid is this?

    I've tried pureeing, which didn't work because she doesn't like sauces or seasonings -- it's plain, clean food. I pack all kinds of pureed stuff into her spaghetti and mac&cheese, though!

  7. I stll struggle with the power/control with my youngest 2 who are still at home with us, and they are 12 and 14. "Eat more veggies! Don't salt that so much!"

  8. With my first three kids, I provided healthy foods and NO STRESS (this is the key), and eventually all of the kids learned to like the healthy foods in front of them.

    However, sometimes personality is the biggest factor in kids' diets.

    My fourth child has an extremely small appetite. She would rather go hungry than eat a food she doesn't like. For her entire life, I have insisted that she eat the same food as the rest of the family. But she is stubborn and picky. As a result, she often goes to bed without eating any dinner at all. It is frustrating, to say the least.

  9. Hi! Sorry for being MIA there for a while. I love your meme idea. Nice. My toddler will only eat carbs. Well, practically. He sometimes also eat bananas, corn, olives, fruit leathers and cheese. But mainly it's Cheerios, pasta, crackers, waffles or bread. So funny. I'm pretty laid back about it, though, after banging my head against the whole for many months, and I'm just happy he's eating anything at all.

    It does feel like my whole day is structured around getting food into his mouth, and trying to find new foods which he will hopefully start to eat. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not.


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