This one's for Adrienne.
Okay, I can't lie. It's actually more for me.
|The pics in this post are from a regular ol' after-school snack time. The girls are munching on cheese and apple slices. The cheese went down fast. The apple slices needed more "encouragement" to be eaten.|
So Adrienne, this one is for me too!
I need this all written down for my picky eating girls and their
I cook one meal for dinner.
One meal only.
Like seriously, who has time to cook another meal?! (I know there are many of you that do, but I still haven't developed that skill.) I have 7 kids and do not have the time to make more than 3 meals a day. So if one of my children doesn't like what I serve, that's totally a-okay with me. Yep, we encourage them to at least take a "thank you bite." Sometimes we even resort to bribery. But there's always a supply of fresh fruits, raw vegetables, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, or pb&js to eat instead, but those are pretty much the only alternatives you have if you don't like what's served. I try to make their favorite meals regularly, and I do take requests and incorporate them into my meal plans. And I do try to keep my meals pretty varied with a variety of ethnic foods, hot and cold entrees, seasonal foods, favorites, and things that are new and different... As a result, (or maybe it has been dumb luck?) my kiddos eat a huge variety of food and usually don't shy away from trying new things.
Now Mimi is home and low and behold, the Lord has blessed us with another picky eater! I don't think we're dealing with any deeper issues or past food trauma other than being picky and radically changing her Chinese diet. We had food/eating therapy for 2+ full years with Tess, so my feeding-picky-eaters-bag-o'-tricks has been helpful once again!
Mentally... I think that food and eating are so tied with our maternal instincts. As a mama, I came to the deep guttural realization that
1) my child's food issues affect me at my core--- of who I am as a mother and how I feel about how successful (or not) I am at my job as their mama. Feeding our young is instinctual and animalistic. We think it's suppose to come naturally and easily. And when it doesn't, it hurts leaving us mamas often feeling like a failure at the most basic of tasks... feeding our child.
2) no matter how my core mama is hurting when there are food and eating issues, it really isn't my fault, and I shouldn't take it personally. Really. It's not your fault. Some kiddos come with baggage. And just like a diabetic gets insulin, we treat the problem. Yeah, if you're in the middle of food and eating issues you know this "not taking it personally" is easier said than done.
So I rely on some guidelines so I don't get emotionally "caught up" in the food issues that arise. With my therapists, we devised this plan . Our overall goal is to increase food variety and nutrition would naturally follow if I can achieve this goal. So it may seem bass ackwards not to have eat a nutritious meal as one of our primary objectives for my picky eaters, but indeed this will and has come as a result of eating a varied diet.
1) When Mimi came home, being the anal retentive person I am, I made two lists of possible food choices for her
List 1 included all the foods that Mimi would eat, her favorites. This included yogurt, water, hard boiled eggs, congee, rice, cheese, Captain Crunch Berries, Ritz crackers, deli meats, hot dogs and peanut butter. That was it in the beginning.
List 2 included all the foods that Mimi would sometimes eats and sometimes wouldn't. For her this included ham, bologna, pasta, juice, ice cream, rice noodles, pickles, oranges/tangerines and bananas.
Honestly, just writing the lists down really helped me see that there were options and things she would eat. It was a start at least.
2) I try to keep the foods on both the A and B list on hand and stocked up... even if they are crap or weird. (Keep in mind that I'm trying to build her variety of food and pallet. Nutrition is not my goal... yet.)
3) At every meal, I offer 3-5 different foods, serving things from "A" and "B" lists and a new food. But I keep a variety in the 3-5 things I serve on her tray. A variety in textures (crunchy, melt-able, mushy, yogurt-y, leathery/dried fruits...) and taste (sweet, salty, sour, savory...) and food groups (dairy, protein, vegetable, fruit...) and temps (hot vs cold) and so on... Even if she won't eat or even try or even look at the new food, I keep offering every single meal. Mamas, this is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time (years maybe) and the deeper the issues the more time it takes. I'm desperately introducing beans, vegetables, and fruits for our girly at this time. PS-I said offer her 3-5 foods per meal. She will likely only eat 1-2 items, MAYBE try 1 other, and toss the others on the floor or at me in disgust or ignore them. Sometimes it's a victory if she will even allow the food to remain on her tray.
Eventually... eventually, she will get to the point that she will allow the non-preferred food to stay on her tray... then maybe eventually she'll touch it... then someday she'll bring it to her lips... and eventually it will make contact with her tongue... then a bite... I've done this with 2 girlies now, and it takes months, years and hundreds of exposures to the new foods.
4) Throw in snack times between meals of 1-2 food items. Start with a new food and then add something from the A list a few minutes later.
---I have regularly added to and changed both lists as time passes.
---I try to serve things different ways. Currently we're trying to get Mimi to drink milk. We've tried with a straw, sippy cup, in a regular cup, in a water bottle, served warm, cold, with choc syrup, with a teaspoon of sugar mixed in... A year later, so far no success, but we're still working on it.
---I try different times of day too, not just at meal time and/or at the table. We offer snacks during playtime, while on the swing set, or while reading a book in her room, or at the doctor's office waiting room. This works very well for Tess. It's amazing what kids will eat when out and about!
---I offer new foods or foods from "B" list first, then move on to her favorites.
---I don't shy away from non-toddler foods either. Because in the end the goal is to build up her food variety. So I also introduce things like mustard, dill pickles or even just the dill pickle juice, bell peppers, vinegar potato chips, ice cubes, beets, dried/uncooked Top Ramen noodles, frozen peas (still frozen)...
----With variety in tastes and textures in mind, I also include crap foods too at meal times like Cheetos, pop-cycles, Cocopuffs... This totally goes against my maternal instincts. But we've found given time, it really works in increasing her diet and willingness to try new things.
----With our Asian girls, I think offering "different" meats is a great possibility too. I need to get down to the Asian market and get some meats and fishes to introduce.
---I really don't push the new foods too much, or any foods for that matter. Food and eating can often trigger bigger issues for our kiddos with tough pasts. Pushing it often just makes it worse.
Eventually, the variety of foods has grown as has their pallets and willingness to try new foods.
Thanks for humoring me, Adrienne!