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.

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Interpreting food refusal

Since Sweet Potato’s unexpected acceptance of cheese and eggs, she has continued to (usually) turn up her nose at these foods.  She even occasionally refuses pancakes and raisins.  I had been wondering how a child who normally loves pancakes will all of a sudden decide she doesn’t want one, and then it struck me.  Who of us doesn’t go through a phase of liking a food, and then a phase when we’re not in the mood for it? Especially if we’ve eaten that food every day for 3 or 4 days? Of course Sweet Potato is sick of pancakes by the fourth day; so am I! And a child learning to talk can’t tell me “Mama, I like pancakes, but I’m just not in the mood today.” I suspect most toddlers can’t put that concept into words either, hence my friends’ comments that their child who liked macaroni and cheese yesterday is today saying that it’s “yucky.”

In a book I read recently (I can’t remember whether it was French Kids Eat Everything or Bringing up Bebe), the author stated that adults will encourage kids to try a food, and if the child says that they “don’t like it,” the adult says “Oh well- you just haven’t tasted it enough times yet.”  Instead of getting riled up, they accept the statement, but don’t expect it to define their child’s taste for the rest of his life. How freeing!

So, as I continue to feed Sweet Potato, and introduce new foods to her, I’m going to take these attitudes. If she refuses food that she has previously liked, she’s just not in the mood today. If she tries something once and dislikes it, she just hasn’t tasted it enough times yet. I’ll keep offering new foods. One day she’ll come around.

Small victories

They say that if you keep offering your child a food, she’ll eventually eat it. I can testify that this is true! Sweet Potato has never been much of one for broccoli- at least not the florets. She’d nibble on the stems, but that was about it. But I make a point to serve her florets along with the stems, and she has started eating them!  She even went for them first when I made her a quick lunch of broccoli, chick peas and mini penne.

Another food that she wouldn’t eat (inexplicably) was raspberries.  She’d eat blackberries, and loves strawberries, but consistently turned up her nose at raspberries. But one day when I was eating them in the kitchen, she was grumpy/ hungry, so I gave her one. She ate it and wanted another. She ate as many as I would give her. How about that? Maybe the trick is not only to offer the food multiple times, but to eat it yourself, while not offering your child anything. Let your child’s covetous nature work in her favor.

Pickiness begins

A few weeks ago, now, Sweet Potato started turning up her nose at some foods that I know she likes. This seems to have only gotten worse. Let me give a few examples.

This week I made a casserole using roasted veggies on her Like list- sweet potato (obviously!), cauliflower, and to a lesser extent sweet peppers.  Granted, this recipe was fairly spicy, but she didn’t touch it! And Hubby and I thought it was delicious!

Then, this weekend we were in Lancaster, PA for the Bird in Hand half marathon.  I decided to sign our family up for the all-you-can-eat pasta dinner, but SP ate little of her pasta, none of her meatballs, and an entire  bread stick. I have been worrying lately that she isn’t getting enough protein.

eating like a big girl

Can you say “carb lover?”

Tonight for supper we had the leftovers of a cheesy chicken and rice casserole. Sweet Potato likes carrots, rice, and sometimes chicken, but all she would eat tonight (and the first time) was the carrots. Maybe she didn’t like the cheesy sauce, but really, there’s nothing in this recipe that she shouldn’t like.  She kept hollering and reaching for the fridge during supper, and my only guess at what she wanted was pancakes. I tend to keep a bunch in the fridge because they make an easy breakfast (and snack), but perhaps I’ve come to rely too heavily on them. I gave her a glass of milk, and that comprised the bulk of her supper. Mistake? Perhaps, but I would have let her have the milk anyway.

So what now? I suppose I’ll do more dinners like tonight- foods that she likes, and if she doesn’t eat them, she goes to bed hungry.  Sooner or later she’ll have to learn that what we’re eating is all there is. Hopefully she caves before I do.

Picky eaters

I know a lot of moms who think that their kids are picky eaters, and they all have a somewhat different way for dealing with the problem. Since I haven’t had this problem (yet! I’m sure it’s coming!), I don’t have a lot to offer as far as personal experiental advice. However, I have read a bit about how to deal with it, and this is a good article I came across recently that gets the main thrust of all the RD advice I’ve heard.  When you look at the rules Ms. Wallace offers, it takes the stress off. Parents, just offer your kids healthy foods, at regular times, and keep the stress level low. Give your child the opportunity to decide the rest.  Ellyn Satter calls this “division of responsibility in eating” and also says to also offer something like bread or rice at each meal- something that you know your child will like even if she refuses everything else.  Even if all she eats is bread for a couple days, or weeks, she will eventually eat something else!  I plan on using this advice when Sweet Potato decides that she only likes carbs, and I’m confident it will work.