Foodie Friday: Quitting the Recipe Quest for My Picky Eaters

Posted on
Categories Difference, Feeding, Feeding Older Children, Foodie Fridays, Frustration, Health, Older Children, Perspective, Preschoolers, School-Age, Solid FoodsTags , , , , , , 1 Comment
Fresh carrots
Photo Credit: Distant Hill Gardens

My friend Karl once told me that there’s a good reason that children develop pickiness in their food choices around age two. Around that age, hunter-gatherer kids would start to stray farther from their mothers. Their dislike of unfamiliar (and I assume a bunch of familiar) foods protected them from sampling poisonous leaves and berries when mom wasn’t looking.

As I discovered with breastfeeding, “natural” doesn’t mean “easy.” A picky kid, normal though she may be, is a pain to deal with. It seems ridiculous that in a time where nearly any food is available to us at any time of year, we struggle to get our kids to eat a well-rounded diet.

I have egg on my face from my bragging about what great and varied eaters my girls were during the early stages of solid food.

J is a little picky. She hates anything in sauce… unless it’s pasta in red sauce, dryish macaroni and cheese, or ranch dressing. The toddler who inhaled yogurt, bananas, fish and curry has turned into a school-age lover of pizza, sandwiches and mac and cheese. She won’t sit near anyone eating yogurt. She’s recently decided that all cheese is “slimy” unless it’s grated, so I’ve had to start leaving cheese out of her sack lunch sandwiches. She’ll eat most kinds of fruit and raw vegetables, although she’s anti-pear and anti-banana. She likes chicken fine and loves fish. She loves bready things of all sorts: sliced bread, rolls, muffins, tortillas, pancakes, waffles. We stick with whole-grain at our house.

M is much pickier. Like Sissy, she hates sauce textures, although she will eat applesauce and has recently branched out to marinara. She even allowed herself a taste of yogurt the other day! We’ve come a long way from dealing with her texture aversion in feeding therapy. She’ll eat several kinds of raw vegetables: broccoli (stems only), spinach, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, jicama. She’ll also eat boiled or canned corn.

She loves apples.

"I love my mom because she always lets me eat apples when I want to eat apples."
Seriously, the kid loves apples. My Mothers’ Day gift was a declaration of love for me based on the fact that I “always [let her] eat apples when [she wants] to eat apples.”
Other fruit? Don’t bother, unless it’s a purple seedless grape. Green grapes are a no-go in the under-30 set at our house.

Protein is easier. Like J, M will eat chicken, pork, fish and eggs. And breads… she loves her bread. The kid would live on pancakes, apple slices and breakfast sausage if I let her, occasionally eating a croissant for dessert.

These children have inherited my sweet tooth, but that’s a tale for another day.

For years, I’ve sought out recipes that will tempt my children’s palates. When M was a toddler, I came to terms with her odd rhythm of living on milk for a couple of days, only toying with her food at mealtimes. She’d then eat a single gigantic meal before returning to 2 days of a liquid diet. I’ve learned to accept that the things that my kids will eat taste bland and boring to me. I’ve learned to focus on nutritional balance over variety. And I’ve learned that I’d rather spend time talking to my kids about their observations of the world than arguing over food.

In recent months, I had a flash of insight. If my kids prefer their fruits and vegetables raw and separate, why do I seek out vegetable recipes? My love for rich combinations of flavours and textures doesn’t mean that different concoctions and preparations will tempt my children. They can have their veggies raw. At least they’re eating them.

Now, instead of coaxing my kids to try the latest and greatest vegetable solution I’ve come up with, I lay out a raw vegetable or collection of veggies at meal time. The girls can assemble their own salads or keep their carrots from touching their jicama if it’s that kind of day. J can have her ranch while M and I forgo dressing.

Do they like what I like? Not yet. Are they getting their fibre and vitamins? Yes. Are they learning to make good food choices? Yes. Would I rather we could all enjoy Cajun okra or curried cauliflower together? Absolutely.

What’s your children’s take on fruits and vegetables? Do they eat them cooked? Raw? Not at all?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Gastronomy 2.0 : Eating with Twins on the Grow

Posted on
Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Solid FoodsTags , , , 2 Comments

For that first few weeks — even months — with newborn twins, it felt as though we were forever going to the pediatrician’s office for near-daily weight checks. My second guessing and self-flagellation about my children’s intake began on Day One. Literally, Day One. Check-in nurses would ask, “How much do they take at each feeding?” I had no idea. My breasts might have had a stretchmark or two, but calibrations, they didn’t. Both babies still had their shar-pei unfilled-with-baby-fat loose skin; was I making a bad decision by attempting to breastfeed? What about those recommended first week formula supplements? Were they inferior somehow? The first time I drank juice post-partum, following that nursing both babes screamed for an hour. On more than one occasion I was convinced that my daughter spit up not only her whole “meal,” but the one preceding it as well. In retrospect, all that coupled consumption-focused chaos did serve a purpose. Even with how little I knew and how ill-equipped I felt, my babies survived…and so did I. Word of “learned the hard way” wisdom: If your pediatrician is not alarmed about your twosome’s positions on the infamous percentile “curves,” you should not be either. Now kindergarteners, our he-child is in the 97% for height. Our she-child? Well, at her 6 year appointment she at long last departed the 3% weight curve.

Suppose our experience illustrates pretty effectively, that despite their dual arrival, twins are different children. Identical or fraternal, they’ll grow differently, they’ll eat differently…and trust me, if you don’t mind your P’s and Q’s, you’ll find yourself feeding them differently….or different meals at the very least. As the kids grow, and can — and will — voice their pleasure or lack thereof with a meal presented, try to keep your food-related parental frustration in check. Right along with how and when they sleep, how and when they “output,” what they actually eat is largely in your twins’ control. The good news is, what you offer them, or don’t, is in yours.

Here are some meal-based mantras and mama of multiples discoveries that have made eating with our growing sweeties more palatable:

If it ain’t broke…
An affection for a wide variety of vittles is an adult phenomena. Don’t project what you perceive is a menu “rut” onto your twins. If your dual diners are satisfied with a predictable plate that seems to never change — but is fairly balanced nutritionally — learn to love it, not lament it. It will pass.

Make Appetizing via Accessorizing

Oyster forks. Frilly toothpicks. ZooPals plastic flatware. Hinged kiddie chopsticks, or more fun yet, paper-sleeved real ones from a restaurant. If you are apprehensive about introducing a new food item, or if you are seeking to invigorate dining enthusiasm, a little bit of playtime with the process can be very effective. Nurture their nature to your mutual benefit. Serving mini-portions of berries, raisins, nuts, edamame in a variety of Ikea egg cups has worked wonders in our house. Think outside the divided melamine plate; have fun on the high chair trays.



Pressure Cooker
Admittedly, last Christmas morning, when I opened the present tagged “To: The Family/From: Daddy” and discovered a pressure cooker – a pressure cooker – I was a bit baffled. It’s big. It’s heavy. It doesn’t look like you can wash the lid in the dishwasher (and you can’t). My unspoken question: I know you love us, and try to make things easy for us, but why a pressure cooker? Oh, the wisdom that is twin-daddy. Pasta. Piles and piles of pasta. Cooked expeditiously with a softly moist “whistle” when done. No watching the clock. No setting the oven timer (which happens to be the same timer I use for time-outs, so another surprising added plus). Rotini, spaghetti, macaroni…no matter the shape, no matter the density, perfectly done, everytime. Apparently, you can do veggies in it as well with equally satisfying “non-mush” results. Embarrassingly, I’ve yet to try that yet…the triumph of consistently al dente noodles has yet to lose its novelty.

Parental Example
True Mommy Confessions: this is where I tend to fall short. Yes, I’ve eaten pre-fab frosting from the container and swilled sugar-free RedBull clandestinely in the kitchen while extolling my twins to eat their carrots and bananas. But that said, do make a point to sit down with them not only at mealtimes but at snacks as well, and role-model healthy intake and the manners you’d like them to mimic. Napkins in lap, case in point. Do it with a flourish, and they might just do the same. Don’t bemoan a food item before they’ve even tried it – or even worse, don’t “not offer” a food because you don’t care for it. [Asparagus never passed my lips until I was in college for that very reason. However, I dare not cast too many aspersions; my kids have had a generous portion of some highly unhealthy items that I am overly fond of…it works both ways!]

Ease Access to the Desired Diet
Cookie Monster sings so eloquently (with a musically appropriate undercurrent of the blues), “A cookie is a sometime food.” So conversely, fruits and veggies are for the most part “anytime foods.” By that, for those “I’m hungry” declarations between sanctioned meals and designated snack times, Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies aren’t an option. If they’re genuinely hungry, they will eat the offered options.

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation
Meals in monochrome. Faces constructed from foodstuffs. Structures from saltines (for the rotovirus recuperating). You needn’t make every meal a masterpiece, but occasionally, delight your diners with a little bit of creativity. (It’s fun for you, too!)





Suffice it to say, this all looks impressive looking at it written…but let me assure you, our “real-life” implementation occasionally – even often — strays from the ideal. And now, at long last, I think I’m okay with that. As my pediatrician (also a twin mama) has reassured me for nearly seven years now, they will not starve. No they won’t.

At a recent church chili and wings cook-off, our twosome demonstrated how when offered the same assortment of foods, they’ll each invariably eat according to their own developing tastes. Darren had two enormous bowls of chili (of different types) and four wings (each from a different “contestant”). Sarah wanted no chili. She did eat two wings (both the same kind, the only kind available that had breading) and five – count ‘em, five — stalks of celery.

Gotta run…off to pack two lunchboxes (with differing items) and get breakfast for two (same meal, but admittedly, some sugared cereal will be involved) on the table for our twins.

Wishing you all a sweet smorgasbord of dining fun with your twins!
Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone