This photo? Yesterday’s snack. 2 bananas, 2 slices of salami and cucumber slices. All were offered separately (carb, fat, protein–check…) yet she chose to eat them… together. There’s the banana, on top was a “cucumber coin” and on top of that was the salami. Her verdict after some slow and attentive chewing, “wow, there was a lot going on in that bite.” Hi-larious. (She’s used to me whipping out my iphone to take photos of meals so I didn’t think I was making a big scene by snapping this one…)
Dinner two nights ago I made a new white chili and chicken stew (I am vetting a “15 Minute Gourmet” book for y’all, first recipe tasted fine, but took far longer than 15 minutes…) This was totally different than what I usually make. I put the stew in a big bowl on the table, with a bowl of corn, an avocado and tortilla chips. She took one look and said, “Ew, That doesn’t look good. I’m not eating that.” About two minutes later she asked to try a bite of mine, then served herself two small servings and enjoyed it and asked for the left-overs for her lunch.
This morning Dad had PB and J on whole wheat with our grapefruit (such a treat!) and some banana slices. M was eating grape-fruit, banana, milk and her “sweet cereal.” Dad got full with half his sandwich left and asked M if she wanted it. “Yuck, no! It has peanut butter!” Dad couldn’t help asking, “When did you last try it?” M: “I tried it once, I didn’t like it.” (About 3 years ago… Peanut butter and nuts seem to be a no go so far. )
• some snacks are big, some are small. This was a bigger one (2 bananas) but she was hungry at 4:30 after playing outside and not having lunch since noon. Most afternoon snacks are smaller. I let her chose how much to eat from what I offer...
• try not to talk about the food much. As she piled the food together, I remained neutral, talking about other things. It’s the pleasant poker-face. Practice it in front of the mirror if you have to She ate a few bites of salami-banana-cucumber, then went to straight banana. I had to hold back my own comment of how weird that was, and why the heck won’t she try peanut butter again if she eats that!
• the default reaction to new food is likely to be negative. Ignore it. I menu-planned with her in mind knowing she liked corn and could fill up on that, and chips and avocado (we pour a little balsamic in a half with the seed removed and she eats it with a spoon.) Give kids time. Don’t engage in any kind of rationalizing or explaining. (i.e “You don’t know if you don’t like it until you try it/ just try one bite to see if you like it/it has chicken and beans in it-you like those things, you’ll like this/you liked it last week!…) resist, resist, resist. Don’t engage in the negotiating or power struggle. if you’ve menu-planned so that there is at least something on the table, you can calmly say, “OK, you don’t have to eat it, you can just say ‘no thank you.’ Would you like some corn?” If they have to lose face or give in to admit they like something, some kids with the right temperament would rather fight than surrender. Don’t make them chose.
• serve food family style. I know, it’s a pain in the butt with all the extra dishes, but giving them that control cuts off half the food battles before they begin. (Many clients start with, “I put his plate in front of him and we start fighting over the X on his plate, that it’s too much…”) If you fight before you even start eating, you’re dead in the water. Once the power-struggle has begun, that’s where the child is focused. No longer can she pay attention to cues of hunger or even appetite. She can’t be open to new tastes if she’s already upset or only focused on how she can still get dessert out of you… Serve family style, sit back, poker-face. It’s amazing how many times I hear that kids will serve themselves when they have that control.
• I don’t know why peanut butter is eliciting such a strong response. My guess is she’s been asked about it and pressured. It comes up often in the school setting in terms of which room is the no peanut-room, who only eats PB and J every day etc. “What kid doesn’t like peanut butter!” I imagine she’s heard. Dad and I eat it allot. I will keep it around, continue to occasionally offer it and see what happens. After many months of limited dairy intake, she is back to enjoying milk and yogurt. It takes patience. she may never like peanut butter, and that’s OK too.
There are so many more, but just a few to get started. What’s the weirdest food combo your kids have come up with?