The Feeding Doctor on Pinterest

another installment of… Crazy Mealtime Theater!

Posted by on Oct 12, 2011 in Blog Posts | 16 comments

The scene: our kitchen, me making smoothies, M is playing legos on the floor. She walks over, sees the lilac smoothie…

M: Yuck, you know I hate purple, I wanted a pink smoothie…
Me: You love purple, and don’t say yuck.
M: No I don’t. Pink is my favorite color.
Me: Well, this is a pink smoothie with some blueberries. It’s good.
M: I’m not eating it.

Me, finally realizing I am getting sucked into it, getting annoyed… takes control.

Me: You don’t have to eat any. (I finish making smoothie. I bring it to her in front of the TV. Yes, I said it, she starts on her smoothie in front of the TV, and then we all sit down and she has some cereal and milk and finishes or not, the smoothie.)
M: Hey, you got more than me, I want more!

The End


Kids don’t know what they want to eat, often even when it’s what they asked for and it’s right in front of them. Don’t try to guess it will make you crazy.

Pay attention to your feelings. When you feel yourself getting irritated, step back. How are they sucking you in? Think about the Division of Responsibility. Is she trying to do your job? Are you letting her?

Regain control. Calmly, pleasantly. Enforce manners.

It is not the end of the world if they occasionally consume food in front of the TV. Now, if she spills the purple smoothie on the carpet, now THAT would be the end of the world…

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  1. Jess

    This is why my four year old has become the designated smoothie maker in our house. If he wants one, I get out the blender, he decides the ingredients and he puts them in. If the baby is meant to have some, we use almond/rice/soy milk instead of regular milk. He’s surprisingly good at putting in just a little of this fruit and a little of that fruit, with tasty results.

    But obviously, he can’t make everything (although he loves helping in the kitchen and I try to let to facilitate that as much as I can). And we do have this conversation, over other things, (But you said spinach was your favorite last time!). Also, my husband has not yet realized that trying to cajole him into trying “just one bite” is a sure way to guarantee that will be his only bite. Left to his own devices, he usually tries it.

  2. Amber

    Where do you buy the stuff to make lilac smoothie? it sounds like a delicious drink! I’ve had rose and lavender boba smoothies, but never lilac.

  3. AcceptanceWoman

    I love reading this. My husband often asks our daughter what she wants to eat and when she doesn’t know, or doesn’t want anything suggested, he gets angry.
    I sometimes forget that isn’t the best approach, too, but usually I remember that she will eat something from what she is served — some part — or will ask for bread and butter, so she won’t go hungry.
    It’s hard to practice Division of Responsibility when not all of the adults are on board, and my husband is the one who does much of the cooking and meal serving.

  4. Michellers

    I think my 5 yo daughter and I have had that EXACT same conversation about a smoothie! So laughable and yet so crazy-making.

    I have realized that we give her too much of our part of the division of responsibility when we go out to eat. She picks and orders her own food but then wants to eat off of our plates instead. How do we balance her desire to be a big girl with the fact that she really doesn’t know what she wants to eat?

    • KellyK

      Ooh, that’s a tricky one. If it’s a restaurant where you get bread or chips or something, there will be something she can eat, even if she ends up hating what she ordered. You could also order an appetizer for the table that you know she likes. That might give her the freedom to try new things and feel like a big girl and still get enough to eat.

      Or could you offer her a few things to pick from rather than the whole menu?

      I like the idea of sharing plates, but only to an extent. “Can I have a bite of yours? Do you want a bite of mine?” is nice. “I don’t like what I ordered so I’m eating half your food,” not so much.

      • katja

        Kelly K, love your suggestions! Eating out is tricky! When M was very young, we tended to stick with familiar options, with booths (:) and often a buffet, like Ruby Tuesdays, our local Indian restaurant etc. We are trying to expose her to more (we eat out about once a week, and I can only eat so much pad thai and Pho- her faves…) If we go somewhere new, we often order an app she is likely to enjoy, like calamari, or the bread basket is nice, if she is somewhere unfamiliar, she will often stick with spaghetti and marinara, she now loves lettuce with ranch, which is ubiquitous… Also, dessert can save your butt. We recently ate at a local place, and ALL the food had a significant spice to it, she ordered tomato basil soup, and it was downright spicy! (odd.) Anyway, she was upset bc she didn’t like her salad (a gummy vinaigrette) or the soup, but she had 2% milk, and a small cupcake for dessert. Sometimes we plan on a more filling dessert if we know she won’t eat much. I like letting her try tastes of my food, but agree that I don’t want her eating mine all the time! I often don’t commit to dessert (let’s wait and see) until I see how the meal is going. If I know she’ll be hungry, I am more likely to give her more filling dessert choices. Does that help? Also, know it will get easier as she gets older.

    • Heidi

      Is she wanting to pick and order her own food, or are you suggesting that she do so? Last week my husband, son, and I went to Claim Jumper (their portions are ENORMOUS) and we ordered two dishes between the three of us. He said what he wanted and we got that plus something else that my husband and I wanted. He ate some of everything and was entirely content.

      Generally he knows what he wants, that’s not our problem, but if she’s regularly wanting to eat off your plate, I’d suggest planning on splitting with her (my mom and sister like the same foods, so they always end up sharing plates on purpose) and, if there isn’t enough to fill you up (unlike our Claim Jumper experience, where I fed myself for two work lunches afterward on the leftovers, yeesh!), get yourself an extra side dish, or whatever.

      • Heidi

        Oops, and I meant to say, if she’s wanting to choose food for herself, maybe she can order the appetizer for everyone and then share your main plate as a matter of course, so that she is getting to both choose and get the stuff she knows is good!

  5. Abby

    “You love purple and don’t say yuck.” That sentence would be enough to make my youngest go into her room, find everything purple, put it in a garbage bag, then say, “Yuck. I told you I hate purple. Don’t tell me what I love.” And then for the rest of her life never, ever own another purple thing. lol It was a hard habit for me to break. I was forever saying, “But you love xyz!” thinking it was just an innocent reaction, but she interpreted it as a call to war every time.

    • katja

      Ha! I love that! yes, I try to share my not-so-proud moments. it is so easy to get sucked in. You have a strong-willed little one. Are you having food battles? M didn’t react to this one, but if I try to “teach” or suggest anything (this summer at camp, I made one “suggestion” during a ping-pong session, and she slammed down the racket, stormed out, saying, “I know! You don’t have to tell me!!!”) I think I said, “remember how we follow-through with throwing, try that…” I thank my stars every day that food is not an issue we battle over… Minor skirmishes maybe, but normal stuff, and if I am not too tired and see what’s happening, it is truly rare…

      • Abby

        We don’t really have food battles unless I forget and say something offhanded like your example, which I’ve done too many times. She’s an adventurous eater, but sometimes she wants something different than what’s offered and if I get sucked in and say, “But you love this!” It’s all over. lol She’s the youngest of 3, though, so her issues come in when she’s worried that she’s not going to get her share. I really have to split things up and put her name on her portion so she doesn’t feel the need to eat it all before anybody else does. She really enjoys food and wants it to be available when she wants it. Labeling her food has worked, but I still struggle with the balance between “The kitchen is closed!” and saying yes when she wants to eat again and I’m too tired to deal with it.

        • katja

          For sure! Old patterns are the default! And, I so get too tired. They will get over occasional bending of the rules if you have to do it for your sanity. For example, M has been having some sleep anxiety, and I have been sick as a dog. I finally was sleeping soundly (first time in weeks…) and she comes in at 4:18 having had a nightmare. Now, ideally I would have gotten out of bed (the guest bed since I was afraid I would hack all night again) and sat with her, talked with her in her room, sung to her etc. instead I rolled over and let her in bed with me. I know I will pay for that down the road with some extra time getting back on track, but I did what I had to do in the moment. We have to give ourselves a break sometimes. Just being aware as we do it, and knowing we can get back on track, calmly, and matter-of-factly. I like how you figured out that her fear of scarcity was a big factor. Great paying attention to her needs and finding a solution!

  6. Molly Fey Persinger

    (or maybe not so simple?!) but easy once you recognize what’s happening…..

    • katja

      Yes, I often say feeding well is “simple, but not necessarily easy.” it’s a lot of work to plan, cook, structure pleasant meals and snacks! How are you doing with a little one added to the mix?

  7. Molly Fey Persinger

    love it! such a great example and so simple!