February 3, 2010

Da-Zanya Tales...

Who is the world's pickiest eater??

Ding ding ding ding! Wha-ooh, Wha-ooh. Sound the alarms. We have a winner!

When I became a parent, I never fathomed the amount of struggle I would incur that revolved around food. Eating. The mere act of ingesting food as to gain nutrients required for the body to function properly.

Maybe you don't understand. I don't know where this girl came from. She is the product of Tyler and I. Two people who quite enjoy eating and all things food-related. Hello... have you ever met me? I like food a little too much, really...

Now, I know she is three. I know that being picky is a rite of passage of sorts for toddlers. I just feel like her food issues have reached a whole new level. A pinnacle, of you will, of battles and tears and the like.

She eats breakfast well. She loves cereal with milk. She enjoys the occasional mini pancake or oatmeal square. On rare occasion, I can even get her to eat a (gasp) banana. We're cool with breakfast. The fact that it takes her 52 minutes to eat half a bowl of cereal... well, I will leave that for another post.

Then, there's lunch. I try very hard to switch things up and give the girls a variety of meal plans for lunch. I try to have fun with it. Some of the things I will make- peanut butter & jelly or Peanut butter & honey, macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, quesadillas, pizzas on tortillas or flat out bread, turkey & cheese roll-ups, tuna boats, hummus with pita & veggies, chicken nuggets, cubed up meat & cheese, various fresh fruits & veggies, raisins, black beans, chick peas, scrambled eggs, etc. The meal that I can typically get Sassy to successfully eat about half of- a peanut butter sandwich. Sometimes. On a good day.

She just won't eat.

However, here's where my issue arises. I know the old saying- no child will starve themselves. And, how true, how true. On an average of 4.3 minutes after finishing cleaning the kitchen after lunch, Sassy proclaims she is hungry. Famished. Starved. She cannot possibly wrap her little brain around the reason that Mommy becomes angry with her when she says this.

We've tried conventional. Oh, you're hungry? Well, let's see here... I think I set aside the sandwich you didn't quite finish try. Here you go...


She wants crap. Cheeze Itz. Goldfish. Fruit Snacks. Candy. I mean, get real. Umm... no.

Oh, and don't even get me started on dinner. Dinner has become a miserable experience in the SPH, which is really too bad, considering Tyler and I pride ourselves on the fact that we take time to sit at the table as a family and eat together every evening.

I'm at a loss for what to do. The evening usually starts with Sassy asking what's for dinner, to which I reply with the appropriate answer. Thus begins a horrible tantrum-throwing debacle.

For example... the other night, I replied that we were having lasagna. I don't know that Sassy has ever had lasagna, but spaghetti is one of the few meals that she will typically eat occasionally try if it's Tuesday night and she is wearing a blue dress with yellow polka dots. Just sayin...

Immediately, she starts whining and sobbing and pleading with me. I don't want da-zanya Mommy. I don't like da-zanya! Please, please don't make me eat da-zanya!!!

Here I am, standing in place and questioning if I really just asked her to lick a block of arsenic or something. "Sweetie," I tell her, "Lasagna is a lot like spaghetti. It has noodles and lots of cheese. I think you will like it!"

But no. That's just the thing. Once her mind is made up... forget it. If she says she does not like lasagna, she won't eat the lasagna. And, if we make her take the no thank you bite, she will proceed to make herself gag and vomit all over her plate. Been there, done that. Every time. Never fails. So much for the magic of the no thank you bite.

I am at my wits end. I don't know what to do or how to react. I have tried so many different things- no thank you bites, making her a separate meal, not letting her have anything the rest of the day, giving her choices, having her help me shop for, prepare, and cook meals, letting her fill her own plate from choices on the table, ignoring her, giving in...

I am so worried about where this will take her in the future. I do not want to lead her down a path of disordered eating. I can't help but be concerned that she is not getting the proper nutrition... we call her ribsy, for goodness sake! I want her to have a full tummy and a nourished mind so that she can learn and grow and succeed...

Is that too much to ask?

C'mon Mommy Warriors... tell me like it is. What works for you? What should I be doing differently? Help a Mama out... I'm begging you!

11 sweet tweets:

Anonymous said...

Totally ignore her forever and ever amen. I NEVER argue about food. Brandon survives on half a toaster strudel every day, day after day. He drinks enough milk to survive and do well in school in the morning. I make him a plate of food at each meal, and he never eats it, and I never say a f-ing word. If he gets upset about what we are having, I just say "then don't eat it". I throw his food down the sink after the meal and never save it for later. He wants snacks after dinner too, and I usually only have healthy options: pretzels, bananas, cheese sticks, whole wheat ritz, etc., so I don't care if he snacks--there usually are no unhealthy options and if there are, Jackie has hidden them in his car or something. Food is just not a battle I am willing to fight. I have my own issues with food, and we love to eat and eat together every night also. I am not going to fight with a kid at the dinner table.

Alyssa said...

This post could be my daughter- to a tee. Breakfast, good with cereal. (pancakes? no waffles? no bagels? no) Lunch- she usually eats a string cheese (on a good day), apples, blueberries, and grapes. No sandwiches, no bread product, nothing. (she is very regular) Dinner is a BATTLE. She LOVES pasta. But would she eat lasagna? No. Ravioli? No. She doesn't even eat chicken nuggets at McDonalds anymore!!

Anyways, I am right there with you. Lily eats pretty healthily, lots of fruit and veggies, but her variety and willingness to try things is completely non-existent. Hell, Pat tried to get her to try a freaking Pop Tart today and she wouldn't do it!!! You are not alone.

Lisa said...

I am with Alyssa. I thought I was reading about Winter. She does the same gag thing when we force her to eat something. Let me know if you find something that works because some days I think Winter will never outgrown this.

Sherry said...

I can't say I have any true advice for you, however, I'll be sure to read all the other comments from the mom's as I could use some help too! Ethan is also classified as a "picky" eater and we've tried our share of tips/tricks/ideas and few have worked but most have not. He's weird about foods that have different textures (avacado-too mushy, pasta-too slippery, banana-too gooey, etc) but if Nick or I are eating something then he's about 99% open to eating some off of OUR plate, even though the same exact thing is on HIS plate. Makes for a long meal, but we sometimes humor him and give him our food just so he'll eat.

I have to agree with Monica though, I think that might be the route to follow. I did read that by ignoring kids as they eat (well, to an extent of course) then that'll take the pressure off them and won't get so wound up about it. And not to make a big deal about them NOT eating their food, just go about your business. It is hard though, knowing that the only thing in their belly is a handful of goldfish but lately I've been trying my best to chill out about it knowing that eventually (in like 15 years) I'll be going to the store daily just to restock all the food he's inhaling! :)

Good luck with the infamous food battle! Oh, and the comment about her eating something on a particular day when she's wearing a certain color dress....that made me laugh out loud! :)

Shannon said...

Luckily my kids are decent eaters, so we don't usually have too many meltdowns but I can share some insight simply because we do have battles about certain things. (veggies are a no-go to a certain 3yo here). At the store I will give them choices. "Do you want green apples or red apples?" And they will pick. Then when we get home, I give them what they picked. When they refuse to eat it or say that they are "done" before they've eaten it, I say "That is the apple that YOU picked at the store. If you don't want to eat it then from now on you won't get to pick out ANYTHING at the store." Usually after some eye-rolling he'll eat a few bites.

Have you tried just not telling her what things are? Like when I made ravioli; I made up the kids' plates with ravioli in one section, corn in another and a small piece of garlic bread in the other. The ravioli was new but everything else they like. When asked what it was I just said that it was "Yummy". I didn't explain it at all. Then Ryan said "Is that cheese?" Yep. "And hamburger?" Yep. And eventually he took a bite and declared it yummy. Sometimes no info is better for us.

But like Monica, once they get down and say that they are done, they are done. No second chances, no special meal, no snacks. They can have milk but that's it. I'm not catering to every single persons likes. If they are "starving" they can have PB on toast or an apple, that is is, end of story.

Good luck, I hope it's just a phase!

Kendra said...

EEK this does not sound like fun...I got nothing for ya, because at this stage my kids eat whatever I do =)

Shaila said...

I'm with Monica on this. If my kid says they're done then no snack until the next meal. After a few times of not eating until dinner they realized I meant business. They don't have to finish a meal but they do have to eat enough that I feel they aren't just "done" so they can have a yummy snack later. I also quit giving a lot of good snacks. If you're hungry there's some Cheerios, goldfish, fruit or carrot sticks. I'm not willing to fight with them about food. They either eat or they don't. They'll survive without a meal every now and then.

I also never make my kids clean their plate though. If they choose to only eat half of what I give them then I'll let them have a healthy snack or 2 in the afternoon. I have issues with food myself so I'm trying to just not make it a battle.

The Hoffman Family-Adam, Laura, Easton & Emerson said...

Oh my Sassy! I am pretty lucky. My kids eat so so....Easton eats and he is still in the 5% for weight and still skinny. I would agree with most and say nothing. Offer her whatever if she eats she eats, if she doesn't she doesn't. I like what Shannon said...don't name it. Just put it out there.

My kids have a "snack" drawer that they get to pick from. It has applesauce, fruit cups, string cheese, and sometimes pudding or jello in it. They can pick from their special drawer when it's snack time. Maybe make a special box or drawer full of Sassy only snacks. You fill it with whatever you want...and she has the choice. It may not be the choices she wants but it will be the only option for snacks. Good luck.

Cammie said...

I agree with Monica, but I do make the girls take at least two bites of everything. They don't gag and puke though! I have found that when I tell them what we're having and they aren't happy about it, dinner is more difficult. So, usually when they ask and I know it's not something they already love, my answer is "food." I'm the adult, I make the food decisions and they'll see what we're eating when it's time to sit down and eat. But really, they do get to help make the meal decisions. I let them each pick one dinner a week (home cooked).

However, I might also suggest having Sassy eat at a separate table from everyone else. You could tell her that when she's ready to use big girl manners at the table she'll be welcome to come back to the big table and eat with everyone else.

Will she drink Pediasure or Ensure? You might try those if you want to go the ignore route and that way you'll feel better about the nutrition.

our2kids said...

Oh my! Last night I was going to write a post in our blog that would have been basically identical to this! Tyler drives us crazy, too. We've tried many of the suggestions here (not nagging him, just offering it and when dinner is over, it's over, having a snack bin where he can get his own healthy snacks), but so far the kid skips dinner EVERY night. I even tried saving it and giving it to him for breakfast, but he's just as slow of an eater as Sassy and even if I wait until he says he will eat it, by the time he might consider taking a bite, it's growing mold.

The only thing he ever wants is PB&J, which has now become a special treat he can have for lunch if he ate his dinner the night before. I'm not buying much peanut butter these days. :)

I do like Cammie's idea about the separate table. Every night we hear the same thing, "Tyler, dinner's ready." "Eww! Yuck! Disgusting!! What are we having?" (Insert eyeroll here.) He has to apologize to mommy for insults, but it hasn't made much impact.

I also have to clear the room of anything that can be played with. He is way too distractable. Also, this kid CANNOT keep his rear in a chair. He wiggles and squiggles and is always up pestering someone else. Some days I just want to tie him to it! I very often tell him if he's not going to eat, to just go play and we will join him later, but he hates being banished by himself and usually stays.

Good luck! And like others, I'm interested to see all the responses here. :)

Mandi said...

Hi there. I found your blog from the post you left in the 5 minutes for mom discussion about kids not eating. And I can relate. It was great reading all the comments to this post and knowing that we are not alone.
My 3 year old has had food issues since the day he was born. He had allergies, and intolerances. He hated when we introduced solid food, and never went through the baby-eat-everything stage. And he still eats very little. Breakfast (cereal, pancakes) is good. Lunch is a sandwich and fruit. And dinner, he'll maybe eat plain pasta. And my own emotions have ping-ponged back and forth from guilt in thinking I've done something wrong to not worrying about it because my pediatrician isn't concerned at all about his eating. But just like you, I hate the food battle. I hate not being able to provide nourishment for my child. And I've tried the advice, I've scoured the internet, and have even considered the idea of hiring a food coach.
I call my 1 year old my atonement child because he'll eat anything. He's my proof to my MIL that it's not my fault that my older one won't eat (but she still blames me).
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you are not alone!