Jun 13, 2006

Picky Eaters

My family is vegetarian. I'll say that up front. So we don't eat meat. Which doesn't mean we don't eat junk food--- there is plenty of vegetarian junk-food out there. Twinkies, for example.

Anyway, We're trying hard to be healthy, frugal eaters now that we're no longer students... so I've been trying out new recipies using whole grains, putting lots of veggies into what we eat, buying the organic stuff, etc.

My daughter loves peanut butter. She loves nuts. She loves salty snacks. Anything with jelly, jam, or honey, she will eat.
BUt she will not eat vegetables!!! I'm trying hard to be a good balance of firm but not overbearing... but where do you draw the line? I also want to teach my kids that we don't waste food. So I have her sit there until she finishes, or serve her what she didn't eat at the next meal, etc. And she's starting to get it and just down the stuff she doesn't like so she can move on to a new meal with stuff she possibly does like.

But every once in a while (like today) the power struggle takes on an epic nature. So she has been at the table an hour, refusing to eat dinner from last night (a grain dish with carrots and cauliflower in it, which I think tastes good but she thinks is the very devil, of course.) So I let her down from the table. But I can just sense today will be one of those days... she's going to refuse it at lunch, and maybe even go until dinner before she eats it.

Am I being too harsh? Some would say yes. But I really do believe that removing the junk food preference from one's diet takes a while... and it's only every once in a while that she has these days... mostly she's pretty OK with eating whatever and going on to what's new. So maybe she's just testing me. So I should be firm right?



texasblu said...

This is one of those issues where you are the parent and only you can recieve revelation for what is right for your family.

Personally, I just let them go hungry until the next meal. IF they want a snack in between, I offer that to them again. Sometimes they end up going to bed hungry. I feel very sorry then, but I know that to cater to a picky eater is setting them up for hard times down the road, so sometimes Moms have to be kind but firm. lol! I try not to loose my temper, and I always express sorrow at their refusals, because I think it's SO SAD how hungry they'll be. Usually within a day or two the pickiness passes and they'll eat normally again. I also make sure that thrown in with the "weird" is plenty of favorites surronding it. That way, even if they skip a meal, I know they'll get a balanced meal somewhere in there. Which is easy on my mind - and not a big battle, which being a Mom of seven now I am VERY choosy about my battles.

But like I said - this is what I do - for your family, the inspiration might be something different! So you're vegetarian - not vegan? I want to go vegetarian too, but my Russell is steeped in his German roots, and to ask him to give up meat (I did that once) is very upsetting to him. I have days we'll go with no meat at all, but then I always make sure there are a few days in there with some in it too, although I'm reaching a point that I don' enjoy those dishes anymore. Have you ever read the book "The Word of Wisdom" by John A. Widtsoe? A must read!

NoSurfGirl said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Glad to see I'm not the only mom who won't, figuratively speaking, cut the crusts of my chidrens' sandwiches.

Yup, vegetarian, not vegan-- we do eggs and some cheese and yogurt.

I understand about the difficulty of giving up meat... I still goof every once in a while :P

mamamormon said...

Argh - the joys and struggles of meal planning with tots around.

I realized a couple of months ago that EVERYONE at my table finally liked the meal I'd prepared. It was an astonishing, journal-entrying day!!

I am not a kind mom when it comes to food. Our rule, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." I am making X for dinner. You can eat X or nothing. I don't save the food, beg them to eat, do the "just take one bite" deal, offer any substitutes...yes - I'm just that mean.

To date, no one has starved to death.

The kids are allowed to pick out the parts they don't like as long as they don't dump it on the table or throw it at their sisters.

One thing that has helped tremendously is letting the kids help me make the meal. Mine are still very young (6, 5, and 2), so their involvement is usually stirring or getting things from the pantry. This sometimes - and I stress the sometimes - excites them about trying the dinner.

The worst is when it's Mr. Mormon not loving dinner. ARGH! But that's neither here nor there, I suppose....


NoSurfGirl said...

"To date, no one has starved to death."

LOL! That's comforting, thanks.

That helping-make-dinner thing is a good idea... we'll have to try it and report back.

Maren said...

Eating in our home has been a nightmare. My 3 year old son is allergic to most everything (wheat, dairy, soy, bananas, nuts, eggs, orange, strawberry, rice, potato, corn, and this list goes on). It's really a crazy problem to have. He's been hospitalized twice and has really been touch and go at times.

As a result of all of this, he has developed a fairly drastic eating disorder. We eventually were able to get help through the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. He went through an intensive 2 month eating program there. They were tough and firm with him. It was almost unbearable to watch at times. Especially when they trained us to do the protocol. It is really hard to do as a parent. But, Reilly's life really depends on us getting help with this problem.

We still have the longest of ways to go before his eating will be considered normal, BUT, he has come so far. It has been totally worth it. We sit down at meals and he has his limited repertoire of what he can eat and usually now he just eats. Some days he still fights us on it, but that is rare anymore.

We learned much from the professionals and how you change ingrained behaviors and it takes persistance and consistency. It's been a trial, but he is really thriving now and we are so grateful that we stuck with it when the going was tough.

The only way I can ever know if we are going in the right direction in regards to parenting issues is through prayer. My son's set of trials has taught me that. They were so far out of the realm of my experience, and most of the doctors. No one knows what he needs more than the Lord. As I have been learning to really listen for guidance and follow it, we have seen miracles begin to take place.

NoSurfGirl said...

Maren, I am so sorry you have to go through that. Wow. You're a great mom, obviously... I'm glad he's pulled through and is doing better now.

NoSurfGirl said...

This is a comment that my grandma emailed to me and gave me permission to post here. She is a very wise woman.

I remember MY experience with picky eater's, me! I can still remember as a small child, probably 5 or 6, I was at my Aunt Lysle's home ( they had a farm and I loved to go out and stay with Aunt Lysle and Uncle Earl [she was my dad's sister]) Well to tell the truth Aunt Lysle was not a really good cook and I was a picky eater. I think it was breakfast, not sure, but any way I wound not eat what was there or would not finish it. But I sat at the table all morning. I don't think it hurt me at all, and I think it probably happened several more time. I don't know if it did any good. And did not get to eat until the next meal.

I don't remember what I really did with your mom and uncle. I do think I went more along the line, ok you sit there for (X) amount of time and try and eat what is there. Then they could get up, but nothing to eat until the next meal. I agree, it is hard on mom and dad, but it is also a control item with the child.

Yes I think sometimes it helps if they help, BUT that can make it harder on the cook also, but it can be lot's of fun also.{That is rather a redundant statement.

The dish you mentioned - I would not of liked the cauliflower, so I was thinking cut it up in very small pieces, so that it may not be to recognizable, or try not to have very much of it in Em's portion at first and gradually increase it when served again. I read somewhere to introduce a new food item put just a bit on the plate, have them eat that, then the rest of the meal, next time increase it etc. etc.
Also you have to decide if they can have desert, I think I usually held that back.

Hope you followed all that, eating can be a problem and not worth a fight, they will not starve, probably be hungry for a while, but that is ok. I always had to clean my plate because of the starving children in China. That is an old one that lots of parents used at that time and not really good in my estimation. Who care's about China and what go would it do for the children if I ate it?--GS