Tuesday, May 19, 2009
No recipes today, sorry - I'm eating leftovers. The picture is me with my youngest son, Jeremy. Jeremy is two, and as you'll find out, he's a terribly picky eater. I wrote about my food trials and tribulations with him for my shared parenting site with my friend Jill called Clever Mamas.
My youngest son has all the markings of a picky eater. There are things that he likes (chicken strips, fries, yogurt, cereal, applesauce and anything bread) and things that he doesn't (pretty much everything else). There are also things that he can't eat due to allergies (eggs, soy products). I met with a nutritionist a while back to figure out how to solve his eating dilemma (to me this was a dilemma). The biggest thing that I couldn't figure out is that he would not eat any veggies and very little in the way of fruit. If the fruit is dried (raisins, apricots) he's fine with it. If the fruit is pureed (the many varieties of applesauce) he's fine with it. If it is in any way shape or from of its natural state, it is so offensive to him that you would think I was asking him to eat a rat sandwich rather than a banana or orange. He loves pancakes, add berries to top the pancakes? He will not touch them until the berries are removed. As far as veggies go? Forget it. I did work around this one with my first but he would always eat a spoonful at least per meal. This little boy? I'd have better luck getting a hippopotumus to walk a tightrope wire.
So as much as some people would say this is cheating, I hide food within food he likes. I dice, I puree, I mash and combine. I'd rather he get the nutrient one way or another than face Grand Kitchen Battle 2009.
There are foods that he likes that naturally lend themselves to more foods he tries to avoid. Spagetti sauce is great - he gets some beef, tomato, and red pepper in that. Pancakes are a great place to add as well: pumpkin, apple, squash and blueberries are all wonderful added to pancake batter (just not all at once). Smoothies are a tasty treat that can have virtually any fruit and veggie you desire. My friend Jen has a wonderful recipe for smoothies with Spinach (and her kids have no idea). Trail mix is another tasy snack. Bulk food stores have all sorts of dried fruit (kiwi, apricot, peaches, pineapple and raisins) that you can add to nuts and cereal pieces. And let's not forget the beauty of muffins: zuchinni, pumpkin, fruit - the varieties are endless.
I do continue to offer everything that we are eating to him. I want him to be familiar to all sorts of food (even if he isn't actually putting it in his mouth). The nutritionist had a wonderful story that she told me about a lady that she knew who had travelled to South America. There was an evening where she had been invited as the guest of honour to a banquet. Unfortunately for her the menu consisted of local cuisine. Local cuisine that she had no intention of ever eating. Everything was edible. Everything was considered a delicacy. Everything was completely not North American. Cockroaches anyone? Manners dictated that she at least take the food, which she did. She started eating things she knew she could handle - seasoned flatbread, that sort of thing. And she watched everyone else eat. As the night went on, she became less disgusted by what was on her plate. At first she just started to poke at it a bit. A little later on, she took a piece and held it close to her mouth. She eventually popped a little of it inside, just to taste. Step by step and very slowly, she ate one. Sound familliar? As much as what we eat is normal to us, our little ones see everything as brand new. What may look so appetizing to us, may be a cockroach to them. They may play with it, try and figure it out, or reject it outright. They may get to the point where they put it in their mouth only to spit it out. A few may actually start to eat it. But each stage of discovery eating is just that, a stage. There are many, many stages that happen from a piece of food on a plate to consuming that food in outright agreement. The next time your child is being picky, think of the cockroach and don't force it on them. Goodness knows that our culture has enough food issues as it is. If you are really concerned that your little one isn't eating well, track their food consumption. What, when and how much are they eating over a cycle of a few days? They may be more nutritionally balanced than you ever imagined.