Friday, November 14, 2008

What To Do About The Food

You know how you have all these grand ideas about parenting and about the type of child you will raise, and how that all vanishes about the time you spend your first night alone with your newborn?

Well, one of my BIG things, before I had children of my own, was that my kids were going to be good eaters. They would eat their veggies, they would love tofu, and they would not have (much) candy.

In fact, I was SO SURE of this, that I judged people who had picky eaters. Specifically, a couple of the kids in David's family. I was FULL of answers for those poor, uniformed parents. If only I could have a week with those kids, I'd have them eating.

Cut to our house, present-day mealtime.

BOY HOWDY. These girls of mine are decidedly NOT good eaters. Not even close.

First, we have the baby. (OK FINE, SHE'S TWO. Stop rubbing it in.) She eats cheese, fruit, and toast... and not much else. She does slug back an impressive amount of (soy) milk and juice though. Oh, and she can put away the mac-n-cheese. Seriously, she can eat more of it than you can. No, really.

To help her become a better eater, I've decided to start limiting her fluid intake. She is now allowed one (1) sippy cup of (soy) milk and one (1) small sippy cup of deluded juice per day. After those are gone, it's water only.

No more drinking all of her calories. I'm hopeful that this will make a big difference.

Next, we have the twins. They fuss and complain their way through every meal- coming to the table rudely complaining that "I don't like ____". It drives me crazy. Also, they bargain with us immediately after sitting down- "How many bites of ____ do I have to have before I can have some yogurt/bread/candy?"

They eat little to nothing if we are eating anyplace but home (even McDonalds!), and I'm doubtful they eat much during lunch at school.

For them, I think it's become more of a power struggle than a food thing. So from now on, we are not going to argue with them about food. We will put healthy food on the table, and if all they eat is bread, FINE. At least mealtime won't be a battleground.

Also, I'm cutting off the after-school snacking at 4pm SHARP. Unless they want carrot sticks. Or raw tofu. Otherwise, nothing more until dinner.

So I guess what I need to continue to learn/remind myself is that as parents, we sometimes need to take a step back and re-evaluate the method we are using. To be constantly adjusting the navigation system is tiresome, but maybe less so than continuing on a path that isn't going anywhere?

I think the food issue is so hard, especially when raising girls. From how I understand it, most eating disorders are more about control and less about food, so it seems V. V. Important to not mess it up. It's about so much more than eating your veggies.

Talk about pressure.

8 comments:

Swistle said...

Arg, food stuff! We're always adjusting it too. And all the kids are so DIFFERENT from each other: one will literally THROW UP if we force him to try a bite of something he doesn't want to try a bite of, and another will look at Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper and say, "Can I have more broccoli instead?"

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh boy. This is one of my biggest issues! Your two year old and mine should have a mac-n-cheese eating contest and I WILL BET THE FARM ON MY KID. (I do sneak jarred baby food into her cheese sauce. Usually butternut squash/corn or carrots. It may be the only veggie she eats for day and days.)

Let us know how it goes! I could use the tips!

Erin said...

I never thought about the girls specific aspect of food issues. Very true. Hmmm.

We struggle with food issues too, though we had it SUPER EASY for the first two years of parenthood because baby Calum ate anything. ANYTHING. Not so much anymore. And baby Emmett is much pickier. *groan*

d e v a n said...

d is our picky eater so far. The kid lives on cheese, yogurt, fruit and goldfish. Seriously. He will sometimes eat a piece of lettuce or a carrot or a bite of broccoli. He goes to bed without eating dinner almost every night by his own choice. That's right - he'd rather be HUNGRY than EAT MY COOKING. *sigh*
I DO think I catered too much to him when he was our only and O doesn't have nearly the pickiness issues d does so hopefully we won't have this same issue all over again, but I think your ideas are good.
I try to limit milk, cut out the late afternoon snacking and don't make separate meals. Still, he's picky. I'm hopeful that someday he will eat.

Hannah said...

About eating disorders: I had a borderline eating disorder for about a year and want to reassure you that you're doing fine! :) You're not causing any future eating disorders. For me, eating didn't turn into a control thing until about 13 or 14 years old. I started to want to control my food around the same time I started to develop a "womanly" body. For right now, I wouldn't worry too much about eating disorders!

Astarte said...

Knock on wood, we have no problems in the food department. One thing I'm definitely glad of is that we never fell into the trap of making separate meals for the kids - we have friends who did that, and they're SCREWED now that the kids are older.

I think you're doing the right thing. Also, you know, on the grand scheme of things, having them beg for yogurt isn't a terrible thing.

Anne said...

There's supposed to be this great food book out there that may be of use to you, but do you think I can think of the name? Heard of it through ECFE. I'll have do some researching for you.
Love your pics that you posted.
Miss you!

Tracy said...

my kids are not horrible with eating, but we do have a clear battle ground going on during dinner. We also stepped back and set the ground rules. Nothing else after dinner if your dinner isn't gone. We usually do very small snacks after dinner. It is very hard to let go of that battle.