Judge not

Nothing has changed my perspectives on parenting like becoming a parent.  Before I had children, I always used to scorn the “kids menu” at restaurants.  They are almost entirely composed of things like chicken nuggets, burgers, fries and macaroni and cheese, no matter what type of restaurant you are visiting. I still do not like kids menus, but I have come to have a more nuanced feeling about them.

Somehow, Sweet Potato has gotten it into her head that she doesn’t like meat, but for some reason, she likes to eat chicken nuggets and fries.  I have learned that any time you sit down to eat with a three-year-old, it’s basically a crap shoot on what they’ll eat, or even if they’ll eat anything.  So when we go to restaurants, I am often persuaded to get her nuggets and fries since these are foods that she’ll eat somewhat reliably.

There is nothing that makes me scratch my head as a parent like seeing my child turn down home cooked chicken or pot roast, but ask for fast-food chicken nuggets.   Or why when I give her a “loaded” potato (everything is separate) with extra broccoli because I know she loves broccoli, the only thing she eats is the bacon.  Why will she not eat fresh meat, but she will eat processed meat? I’m pretty sure she does it to drive me crazy, or just to  remind me that she’s in control of what goes into her stomach.

This whole area of eating/not eating is just one more example of issues on which we as parents and especially non-parents need to stop judging other parents.

Is she even taking a bite?

5 Toddler eating behaviors that drive me crazy!

1. Not eating what she asks for. The other day Sweet Potato asked me for a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. I gave her a slice of homemade bread with peanut butter on it, but she insisted on another piece of bread on top. After I gave in (it was a lot of bread!), she proceded to take the second slice off the top, then scoop peanut butter off the bread and lick it off her finger. I don’t think she ate a bite of bread.

2. Insisting on a snack of cookies, chocolate or the like five minutes before supper is ready to be served, then throwing a temper tantrum when I won’t give it to her.

3. Putzing around eating cool or room temp foods while letting her hot meal sit, and then telling me that it’s too cold, “go warm it up.” This drives me crazy!

4. Asking for more of something before she’s finished her first serving. Like she has half of it left. I tell her to finish what she has, and I’ll give her more if she still wants it.  She rarely even gets through her firsts when I tell her this.

5. Using her fingers to eat ketchup, salad dressing or whatever dipping sauce she happens to have. She doesn’t even dip her food in it and lick it off the food- she dips her finger in it, and licks it off her finger. Arg!

What drives you crazy?

Neophobia

Well, it’s been over a year since I posted anything (whoops!) and since Sweet Potato is going through new phases in her eating life, I thought it was time to start again.

When I last wrote, SP ate just about anything I put in front of her most of the time.  These days she has a few favorite foods (peanut butter, cookies, broccoli, and almost anything her dad is eating), and won’t try anything else.  For example, yesterday we had steamed broccoli and leftover tuna-rice casserole. She has yet to even try tuna- rice or tuna-noodle casserole, but she ate all her broccoli.  Today we had spinach salads and manicotti. She ate a couple spinach leaves dipped in salad dressing, and refused to eat a bite of manicotti until her dad told her she couldn’t have anything that he might later eat unless she at least ate all the noodles.  She then had a couple small bites.

Her neophobia is expressing itself not just in her refusal of mixed foods, but of plain foods that she used to like.  I used to give SP plain soy milk on a regular basis, and she liked it, even calling it chocolate milk. But then the cost got to me and I quit buying soy milk for quite a while. Now she won’t drink it. I even tried giving her mostly dairy milk with a little soy milk mixed in, and she wouldn’t have that, either.

From what I read, neophobia is a phase we just have to get through. I will continue (or re-start) cooking healthy foods, and remind myself that just looking at the food on her plate and watching Mom and Dad eat them counts as a “food exposure,” and it may take 20 of these for her to like a food. I also need to remember that toddlers generally like non-mixed foods better than casseroles.  And when I make casseroles, I need to provide a plain food like bread or rice for her to fill up on if she chooses not to eat the main dish. No one likes to put a kid to bed hungry, and she’ll get over this phase eventually and start liking foods again.

How to dine out with a two year old

We went out to eat the other night, and had the most successful time of it that we’ve had in a while. I think a few things went just right for that to happen. Here are the things that facilitated an enjoyable evening out with our toddler, although I make no garuantees that these tips will be successful for everyone ,every time.

1. Know your child. Does she get crabby after 5 pm? Go out before then. Does she eschew meat? Don’t go to a burger joint. Does she like to watch people? Go someplace on the busy side. You get the point.

2. Prepare. Look at menus on line before going out, and decide what you will order for your child. If possible, decide what you will eat, too.  This expedites the ordering process, especially if you’re indecisive about what to order at restaurants.

3. Prepare your child. I think this is the key thing that helped us this time we went out. I repeated to Sweet Potato before we left home, while in the car, while getting out of the car and right after sitting down at the restaurant, “we are going to eat a meal together and enjoy each other’s company. We are not going to get out of our chairs until it’s time to leave.” The repetition of the preparation phrase seemed to stick, and she didn’t try to get out of her chair.

4. Bring distractions. Bring a book, a small (quiet) toy, or coloring supplies for your child to play with before her meal comes. It’s also good to have some questions ready, i.e. what color is the table cloth? How many people are at that table in the corner?  Who did you play with today?

5. Order early. This goes with #2. When your server comes to get your drink order, go ahead and order your child’s food, and ask for it to be sent out right away. If you already know what you want, you can order yours too, although you don’t want to rush the experience too much, right? Otherwise you’d be at McDonald’s.

6. Compromise. I would not normally be okay with my child eating only french fries for supper, but if that’s all she’ll eat at a restaurant, I’ll let her. Her diet is generally very healthy, so one meal that is nutrient deficient is not going to hurt her. The only exception to this would be if you’re eating out several times a week all the time. But really- who does that with a two year old?

I hope you find these helpful for your next time out with kiddos.  Veteran moms- do you have any other tips?

Self-fulfilling prophecies

I’ve noticed that Sweet Potato rarely eats meat. I try to give her a little piece every time we eat meat, but I can’t remember the last time I saw her eat chicken, beef or sausage. Last week we had talapia, and she was brave enough to try it, but promptly spit it out. (I told her “you just haven’t tried it enough times yet,” and felt good about remembering that line.) Now I’m beginning to wonder how much I’ve talked about her distaste for meat in front of her. And how much of this talk is she internalizing and then acting out? Is her little brain thinking “Mama says I don’t like meat, so I’m not going to eat that chicken.”?  Do we, as American parents, sabatoge our own efforts to get our children to eat good food by reminding them that they “don’t like” something?

Just in case, I’ve decided to stop talking about Sweet Potatoe’s dislikes in front of her. If I’m going to talk about her food preferences, it’s going to be to brag about what she does eat, and how she is adventurous and brave about new foods, even if that stretches the truth a bit.  If Sweet Potato is going to fulfill one of my prophecies, I want it to be a good one.

Now for some gratuitous photos.

Baker in Training

Chip off the Old Block

 

I love Brussels sprouts!!

What I ate at our meal. I had to take a picture because it was really pretty, and particularly healthy.

 

What Sweet Potato started with (except that she had already eaten her strawberries)

What Sweet Potato started with (except that she had already eaten her strawberries)

 

Isn't Mama proud?

At meal’s end. When comparing these photos, it becomes clear that healthy food brings joy.

This was the first time she had eaten her entire slice of quiche in several months.  I was elated! I also discovered that she’ll eat Brussels sprouts if they’re quartered, but not if they’re halved. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the difference.

Resolutions

A while back I reviewed a book and said that it was inspiring, so I thought I’d share the things I have resolved based on the ideas I got from French Kids Eat Everything.

1. I resolved to clean up the table and to have it set with everything at the start of dinner so that dinner will be relaxing, and I won’t have to jump up to get the things I forgot every few minutes.  I bought a nice table cloth and have been better about having everything ready at meal time, but this is still a work in progress.

table prior to makeover

Before

 

Table after makeover

After

Right now our table looks more like the before picture, only with a table cloth. It’s hard to know what to do with all my stuff when I don’t have a desk or any other workspace. If you have any ideas, let me know.

2. I resolved to introduce new foods to Sweet Potato each week. So far she’s tried pesto, canaloupe, and honey dew, and tonight she’s going to try seitan.  Part of this means that I will need to cook different meals on a regular basis, and that’s going pretty well so far too.

3. I’m toying with the idea of nixing snacks for myself. We’ll see if that ever happens.

I think that’s all the resolutions I made, but if I think of any more, I’ll add them.  If you read the book, what have you decided to change (or continue)?

Resolutions

A while back I reviewed a book and said that it was inspiring, so I thought I’d share the things I have resolved based on the ideas I got from French Kids Eat Everything.

1. I resolved to clean up the table and to have it set with everything at the start of dinner so that dinner will be relaxing, and I won’t have to jump up to get the things I forgot every few minutes.  I bought a nice table cloth and have been better about having everything ready at meal time, but this is still a work in progress.

table prior to makeover

Before

 

Table after makeover

After

Right now our table looks more like the before picture, only with a table cloth. It’s hard to know what to do with all my stuff when I don’t have a desk or any other workspace. If you have any ideas, let me know.

2. I resolved to introduce new foods to Sweet Potato each week. So far she’s tried pesto, canaloupe, and honey dew, and tonight she’s going to try seitan.  Part of this means that I will need to cook different meals on a regular basis, and that’s going pretty well so far too.

3. I’m toying with the idea of nixing snacks for myself. We’ll see if that ever happens.

I think that’s all the resolutions I made, but if I think of any more, I’ll add them.  If you read the book, what have you decided to change (or continue)?

Welcome!

Image

my sweet-potato enjoying a healthy breakfast

This is my brand new blog.  Some of you may know me from Summer of Plenty- my experiment with community supported agriculture.  Now I’m going to blog about my adventures in feeding my family.  This is a sort of “rubber meets the road” blog, because I’m a registered dietitian (RD), and am good at telling people what to eat, but maybe not so good at practicing what I preach.  My goal is to feed my family healthy foods, and in my daughter’s case, foster a love of healthy foods.  So far so good- her favorite foods are asparagus, avocado, and mango. But then, she’s not even 1.  I’ll probably muse about food culture, and food in the news occasionally, as well as my adventure in gardening, as this is my very first year to have a vegetable garden.  Please join me on my food and family adventure!