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.
Chip off the Old Block
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)
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.
Sweet Potato is really learning to talk now. She knows several letters and numbers, the names of a few of her friends, several animals, and of course foods! She had never been a fan of cheese, but one night she was sitting in her high chair waiting for dinner with shredded cheese also waiting for dinner in front of her. I was finishing getting the chili and cornbread together when I heard Sweet Potato say “cheese!”, and thought What the heck? Just because she hasn’t eaten it before doesn’t mean she won’t eat it tonight. So I walked over, put a small amount of cheese on her plate and proceded to be surprised by how much cheese she ate that night.
Yesterday she did it again. I gave her a fried egg at breakfast, and she ate it saying “egg! Num-ee!” even though she hasn’t deigned to eat eggs in months.
I think part of both of these food acceptance experiences can be attributed to language. Sweet Potato is so excited about knowing the words for things and being able to say them and communicate, that she was excited to eat the foods she was talking about. I hope she continues to try and like more foods as she learns to say the words for them.