I stumbled upon this hilarious post called “Barf! I am not eating that!” by a parent just like you and me. I'm calling it hilarious because, well, we can all relate to her trials with a picky eater. The best part about the post is that she offers some suggestions on how to manage the “picky eater” dilemma so many of us experience on a daily basis. My favorite line is:
“One day they love bananas, eating 2 or 3 a day for breakfast, lunch and snack time, and the next you couldnâ€™t get them to take a single bite if their lives depended on it!”
Oh that comment resonated with me…deeply. My son will eat 2 bananas for lunch and then maybe another for dinner. We call him a “one food a day guy”. Seriously. He will eat three pints of blueberries (dear god help us with the BMs on those days) or maybe a sleeve of saltines (whole wheat of course) with cream cheese or a green pepper or two whole apples on any given day but never in the same day…
All joking aside, this “pickiness” keeps me up at night mainly because of iron intake (or “outtake” – ha!). I long for the days when I could puree cod, chicken, veggies etc and he'd eat every bite. Texture is a big deal with him. He hasn't eaten meat consistently since he went to solids post purees. He likes meatballs so we go with that one iron source. I have been so concerned, though, that I brought him to the doctor to measure his iron levels. Everything was fine but that gives you a sense of where I am at…
In this post, she suggests the following:
- Stay Calm
- Texture, Texture, Texture
- Serve Small Portions
- Make it fun
While I appreciate these suggestions, my first reaction is “good luck! easier said than done!” And so I offer some more practical suggestions, some of which I use on a daily basis:
- “Magic Shake” for breakfast – My toddler and husband make it a ritual to have a “magic shake” for breakfast. This shake works well because it is a cool color (pink/purple) and you can add all sorts of goodness, such as greek yogurt, peanut butter, protein powder, fruits and even vegetables! Start the day out right!
- Daily Multi-Vitamin – There are some fun offerings in the vitamin department for kids these days in the form of gummy bears, for example. We have a multi-vitamin in the form of a powder that we can add to the magic shake, yogurt or milk, etc.
- Sneak Attack – This “Jessica Seinfeld” approach gets criticism for many reasons, one if which goes right to the heart of what I am trying to achieve in my home – helping my kids have a healthy relationship with food. Well, I am hear to say, this pickiness stage will too pass and there are other ways to integrate this idea into their daily lives (e.g. leading by example, books, a holistic approach that includes learning about where food comes from, the importance of exercise, etc). So alas, here I am with the sneak attach. For example, my toddler loves this homemade tomato sauce my husband makes weekly (a very simple and easy, yet delicious, recipe. If you want it, let me know!). In any given week there will be a few days that he will have macaroni and tomato sauce for lunch and dinner. So I started to mix bits of tofu, carrots and meat into the sauce to give it a bit more power in the nutrition department. Quesadillas are an easy way to integrate goodies too by adding tofu, eggs, beans, etc. With enough salsa, my toddler is game for anything!
- Presentation – Take the above suggestion a step further if the efficacy of “sneak attack” really does make you question and sneak the goodness in but also include the actual food on your toddler's plate. For example, add bits of carrots to the tomato sauce but also add steam carrots on the side of his plate. Add beans to the quesadilla but put a pile on his plate next to the quesadilla. At some point, I am certain he will eat the actual food.
- Healthy snacks – For the perpetual grazer, find healthy snacks that seem fun and are yummy. For example, we love Clif Bar's Z Bars for kids and Peter Rabbit's Organic purees in pouches. I also emphasize berries, especially blueberries, which make for a decent portable snack too.
- Make every meal an experience because, well, it is. So don't get frustrated (I should take my own advice) and go with it. I am certain my toddler will back down one of these days and I will be sure to share the news with you, of course!