Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Adventures in Eating

Deltaflute posted a great comment yesterday regarding my vegetable post, and I thought it important enough to warrant it's own post :)

So, couple of things. I talked about how toddlers and older young children have this list of "preferred" foods that they shun every other nutrition-bearing item for. Deltaflute had the excellent suggestion that we try to make some of these foods ourselves and "health them up" a bit, for instance homemade macaroni and cheese. This is a fantastic idea! We could use multigrain pasta, bake it, maybe sneak some veggies in. The only issue I foresee here is that our little ones do tend to ferret such subversive vegetable attempts out like blood hounds.

"Mommy, what's *this*?" *accusatory stare as a minute piece of bell pepper is detected*

But I do love this idea. This would also work for french fries.

Overall, in regards to getting children to eat things that they'd prefer not to eat, the question is: how do we accomplish this? Deltaflute mentioned that she didn't want to force her son to eat anything, although at times it may seem like alternative solutions are wanting :) I completely relate to this. I think we're all familiar with the old-school tactic of:

"You're not leaving this dinner table until you eat what's on your plate."

I've even seen this enforced the *next day,* that after the child wakes up, they have to eat what's on that plate if they want to ever move on to something else. I know that in parenting, so many things are sensitive, because there are many, many strong opinions. I don't judge anybody, unless I see outright abuse. We all have to do what we feel is best for our kids, and this is rarely easy. In my opinion though, I don't agree with this strategy. I believe in giving even young children small choices.

I'll be reasonable. "Would you like 2 green beans, or 3? Would you like a carrot instead?" Let the child feel like they have some control in choosing their food. "You don't want any vegetables? Ok, but this is what is for dinner. If you don't eat the vegetables, no chicken nuggets, and no dessert." The next opportunity to eat something different comes at the following designated meal time. I've read that children will not starve themselves. Eventually, they will eat. If I feel that the child is really hungry, I'll offer something else that I know they like, but that is nutritious, like nuts, maybe a slice of whole grain bread with some fruit, etc.

So far this has worked for us. Sometimes Henry will choose to forgo dessert because he so dislikes what is being offered at dinner. And I'm reasonable about that too. I know that he hates broccoli. I'm not going to make him eat it, so long as he gets vegetable nutrients from a source that he finds more palatable. Everybody is entitled to dislike a few things. You're just not entitled to dislike everything.

So, this is my philosophy. Anybody else want to share strategies for getting our little ones to eat healthy food? Comment away.

Oh, a parting anecdote. This is Hank's take on feeding babies:

"Mommy? If God gives us a baby, can I help feed the baby? I can put the food in my hand, and the baby can eat it right out of there, just like the goat at the petting zoo."


  1. lol about the feeding the baby. Too funny! I could only picture HB eating out of my hand instead of a spoon. He'd look at me like I'd gone mad especially since he's so terribly observant. He knows grownups eat with silverware. That's how he knew what the spoon was for.

    Thanks for the input. I've also heard that substituting regular fries and potato chips with sweet potatoes verstions are healthy options. My husband is a chip addict.

    And oddly enough on another blog someone made a suggestion of using a base and adding topping options to a meal. Like grilled chicken with tortillas, beans, lettuce, bell pepper, etc to make your own salad or wrap. Someone also said to have a salad bar before meals and then the main meal. Both seem to be really good ideas.

    I'm filling this all in my brain for later use.

    I kinda view my parenting style as learning my options and trying them all to see which one is the best fit with the least amount of temper tantrums.

  2. you could always be sneaky and roast and puree the vegetables instead of just chopping them up, that way they wont be able to tell theyre in there ;) a bunch of my friends love the cookbook "deceptively delicious" by jessica seinfeld. its all about how to sneak veggies into meals so that kids will actually eat them without knowing :)


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