February 17, 2011

Picky Eating

SI and DD learning the joys of solid foods
Toddlers are picky eaters.  They're notorious for it.  They're just learning to assert themselves, that they can have POWER over some element of their lives, and food?  Well, that's the big one they can control.  you just can't force them to eat something.  SI has been particularly aware of this in recent months.

I've been struggling with this one myself.  Not because they won't eat ANYTHING, but because what they WILL eat changes day by day, and I'm sick and tired of throwing away perfectly good food because it's been chewed up, spit out, and thrown on the floor.

SI defeats the blueberries
One day, they'll eat hard boiled eggs like it's going out of style.  The rest of the week?  Can't get them to even pick a piece up.  SI spent weeks refusing to touch green peas.  Then one day out of nowhere, she starts chomping down.  For months bananas would be the best thing in the world, and then suddenly I couldn't get her to even look at one.

One day, sweet potatoes are a huge hit.  The next day?  They're a medieval torture.

And then all sorts of food gets thrown away.  And to be honest, we can't afford to throw food away.  We don't make a lot of money, M and I are both in school, and we have two cars that are only semi-functional.  Throwing money away in the form of food?  It's painful, not to mention all my guilt about the simple wastefulness of the process.

The other day I heard a story on NPR about getting toddlers to eat well.  Or rather, on giving up getting them to eat well.  Because, as it turns out, they pretty much self-regulate.  Toddlers are apparently very good at making meal choices that regulate their calories.  They'll choose sweeter foods if they haven't been eating many sweets, and healthier foods if they have.  The trick is providing them with a variety of healthy options.  That said, I still think I'm going to be getting myself a copy of the Jane Yolen book mentioned by the story.

I've been pretty much happy to let them choose their own foods for the most part, but I still worry about proper nutrition.  When a whole day goes by that the girls only eat oatmeal and crackers, I worry about protein and vegetables.  So I've been cheating.  I've been sneaking better food into the food they're happy to eat.

DD's squash disaster
One of my biggest successes?  I've taken to grating zucchini, quickly sauteing it, and then scrambling it with eggs.  Then I sprinkle a little cheese on top.  Protein, veggies, and some dairy.  All good stuff!  And that gets eaten up like candy.

M also had a great idea.  Juicing spinach, mixing it with orange and apple juice, and making frozen pops out of it.  It's mostly spinach juice, so I know they're getting a lot of the vegetable nutrition they're missing out on when all they'll eat is Cheerios and avocados.

I have a lot of confidence that this is a phase- that the girls will come out of it and start cooperating with me to eat all the delicious things that I cook.  But I'm willing to accept that it might be a few years.

A few years where, sadly, a lot of good food is going to go to waste.
DD suffers from an overabundance of pancakes


  1. You wouldn't have to read too many of my past blog posts to know that my daughter is a nightmare when it comes to food. She would literally live on applesauce and yogurt if she could. The best thing that has seemed to work for her lately has been smoothies. She likes most fruit so if it tastes like "juice," she typically goes for it. It's the only way I've been able to get any veggies in.
    I wish you the best of luck! Picky eaters are very trying!

  2. Oh man...I can so identify with this. My kids are so finicky...they inhale a food one day and a few days later throw it all over the floor! It is frustrating (but makes for cute pictures of your kids!!!).

  3. There's nothing wrong with cheating. Put spinach in their brownies and cauliflower in their pasta, as well as offering broccoli plain. The cheating relaxes me.



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