10 Apr Are there any normal eaters out there?
My family and I just returned from vacation with my in-laws and my brother-in-law’s family. My father-in-law told me that my pancakes were going to make him fat! My mother-in-law taught my kids a song about a fat girl that no one wants! And the usually simple act of feeding my kids in public appeared as dysfunctional as an SNL skit! For example, I was feeding Bobby salmon or tilapia to ensure that he consumed some protein, or even gnocchi—one of the newer foods in his repertoire. But Billy ate absolutely nothing! My mother-in-law was pleading with my husband to let our little one just have ice cream for dinner. After all, Billy was “on vacation.” Meanwhile, neither one of the kids was even asking for ice cream! And by the way, I freaked out (internally, of course) when I heard my kids singing grandma’s song and asked them to change the words from “fat girl” to “mean girl.”
As moms, we almost always seem to be walking around in minefields! Constantly dodging, reframing or renaming! The food and body comments are endless. That’s why when you’re “on vacation,” it’s most important to keep the food and nutrition relationship a top priority. Yes, the kids can have ice cream. They can have it every night if they want…or if you want to serve it. But the kids need to be hungry for it—and be the ones asking for it. They also must be able to understand the concept of “everyday” foods versus “sometimes” foods.
Yes, this was our “vacation.” But by no means does that suggest we throw our wholesome nutritional efforts out the window! Ice cream for dinner is surely okay if your child is a healthy robust eater. But my picky younger son needs to at least learn to sit at the table while everyone else is eating!
Having a hungry picky eater is a great time to introduce a different version of a food he likes and, at minimum, get him to taste the food by licking it. There is no hard line. We need to know and understand our children. I know my older son Bobby is at the point of trying new foods, but he sometimes needs coaxing or a forkful of the food ready for tasting. He really loved the ricotta gnocchi and ate the whole serving of it along with his plain pasta. By the way, some nights we asked Bobby to try a new food and others we didn’t. I also base what he eats on his mood. If he’s cranky, I definitely focus on whole grains, protein and salmon—especially when he is beyond moody.
Meanwhile, little Billy has entirely no desire—perhaps it’s part fear and part control—to try new foods on mommy’s time. He did manage to lick a few new foods during our vacation; he also ate the bread on the table and usually found something to nibble. This is a monumental improvement in his behavior; last year he played under the table at our Easter brunch. This year he ate a yummy blueberry muffin plus some cornbread followed by brownies and ice cream. I am truly ecstatic that he found some things he liked and could enjoy those foods along with everyone else.
Reading our little guy Billy is like reading the weather! He is so very unpredictable. Just when I think I understand his selective eating process, he perplexes me yet again. So, moms…I hear your cries of frustration. You are not alone! Feeding certain kids is easy as pie while feeding others is similar to playing a game of chess. But like I often state: Most people are not normal eaters; rather, they eat in a disordered manner and/or have a negative relationship with food and their bodies.
If we moms can get our kids to love eating and view food as just food—not “good” or “bad”—and if they can love their bodies, we are doing well enough!!
Happy eating…and happy being in your body! Until next week…