That’s it. I’ve had it. It is time to reign in my picky eater and broaden his horizons. I will expand my child’s palate or die trying. Ok, that is a bit dramatic. But I mean, come on! I refuse to accept that I must only give him pasta, PB&J, or yogurt, as these are the foods he eats willingly. In my short sightedness to get him to eat, I started giving him only things that he liked. Day after day….and now it has turned into my toddler refusing to even try anything that looks different. It is ridiculous. It is my own fault. And it is time to end this craziness.
I’m not supposing this will be easy. It is learned behavior on his part, that I have indulged. He does seem to have an issue with textures, but instead of helping him through that, I let him avoid it. I could kick myself. (Hindsight, right?). Now that he is well over the two year mark and in the throws of being a toddler, he can absolutely eat anything and in my opinion, should. My husband and I are adventurous eaters. We enjoy different foods, spices, wines and whatnot. It is unacceptable to me that I will raise a child to be a pedestrian eater. It just won’t jive with our rhythm at home. He will need to learn to eat what we eat, and it starts now. Did I say I know this is going to be difficult?
When O was a baby, the doctor, and pretty much everyone, said, “He will know when he isn’t hungry. He’ll stop himself. Babies know when they are full.” Well that may be true, but I’m not convinced a toddler knows. My son would eat as many graham bunnies as I gave him. He would also prefer them for dinner, if I’d allow it. His new tactic when he doesn’t want to try something is to say “All done.” So I’ve now started to say, “OK, all done.” I’ve stopped offering anything else. Down he goes from the table. Dinner is over. No second chances. He will go to sleep with an empty stomach. My hope is that he won’t let himself go too hungry. Right? Harsh, I know. But I refuse to be a slave to a finicky child.
Last night, we had roasted summer vegetables and turkey kielbasa over brown rice. It was actually very nice. O only ate some of the rice. I wanted him to at least taste the meat and vegetables. Mind you, there were sweet potatoes and carrots in the veggie mix, which he likes, but because they were in chunks he would not even try them. Really? It’s maddening. So, once the rice was picked over, he asked for apple sauce, which was denied. He followed up with a wail and an “All done!” I make no fuss over it. I simply say “OK, all done.” I take him out of his chair and send him on his way…hungry. Eventually, the stubbornness will yield to hunger, right? Are you thinking that I am a horrible mother now?
In France, children O’s age, sit down for a three course meal, daily. They eat all sorts of fish, fruits, vegetables and cheeses. When I say vegetables I don’t mean brocolli with cheese sauce, either. There are no special dinosaur chicken nuggets sold in grocery stores. And there aren’t special kid menus in every restaurant featuring the same items: pizza, mac and cheese, and a hotdog. They are taught from a very young age how to eat and how to appreciate food. International data collated by the International Association for the Study of Obesity show that 15% of children are overweight in France compared to a whopping 30% in the U.S. So who is doing it right?
I believe that food is part of our education as people of a civilized society. To appreciate different tastes and textures is one of life’s pleasures. Sharing a meal with family and friends, is to be part of something. It is a learned sense of community and belonging. Eating is something we need to do for the rest of our lives. Perhaps it should be something we are educated about and learn to do well. Anyway, that’s this mama’s two cents. I’ll let you know how my struggle goes. Did I mention I don’t anticipate it is going to be easy?
Until next time, while I’ll be rocking in a corner back and forth, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up. Ah, my life story! Bon Appetit!