Friday, November 11, 2011

food wars.

Two things I will never understand about babies: 
1. Why they fight sleep when they're clearly tired. 
I would love for someone to encourage me to take a nice long nap during the day. 
2. Why they refuse to eat delicious food.

Let the battle begin!

Jack and I have been at odds with each other over the issue of eating meals. One day he'll love a certain food and the next he won't even look at it. Some days he eats like a champ, others he barely touches what's in front of him. Snacks are the exception, of course - give him a bowl of crackers or grapes and he'll happily sit on the couch and eat until they're all gone. Tonight was one of those nights when he refused to eat and I left the table feeling defeated and frustrated at him. He doesn't understand, "If you don't eat what's in front of you, there won't be anything else until breakfast" and it's hard to send him off to bed on an empty stomach (which I do anyways, because I'm determined to not get into the habit of only giving him the foods he loves).

I know, from seeking advice in the past, that I'm far from the first mom to feel at wits end over uneaten vegetables. But I knew I needed a better battle plan. So I turned to Dr. Sears (because his was the first link on Google) whose sage advice calmed my insecurities and helped me gain a more well rounded perspective. In his article "Feeding the Picky Eater: 17 Tips" I learned, among other things, that:
  • Since a toddler's weight gain is slower after the first year, they need less food. 
  • Snacking their way through the day is more compatible with their on-the-go lifestyle. I'm so glad he validated this for me! I grew up being told not to "spoil my dinner" by snacking too much between meals, so naturally I felt allowing lots of snacks was bad parenting.
  • Toddlers like to binge on one food at a time. One day they'll eat only fruit and the next only vegetables. Expect your child to eat well one day and practically nothing the next. Yes!! Thank you for reminding me that this is normal and will not lead to malnourishment.
  • Aim for a nutritionally balanced week, not a balanced day. Amen to that brother! I think I might have to post that around the house as a constant reminder to relax on the issue.
I haven't gone through his full list of 17 Tips on creative ways to cope with a picky eater, but from what I skimmed it all sounds logical and fairly easy to achieve. No. 16 struck a chord with me because it's been my experience to a tee:
16. Count on inconsistency. For young children, what and how much they are willing to eat may vary daily. This capriciousness is due in large part to their ambivalence about independence, and eating is an area where they can act out this confusion. So don't be surprised if your child eats a heaping plateful of food one day and practically nothing the next, adores broccoli on Tuesday and refuses it on Thursday, wants to feed herself at one meal and be totally catered to at another. As a parent in our practice said, "The only thing consistent about toddler feeding is inconsistency." Try to simply roll with these mood swings, and don't take them personally.
So here's to learning new strategies as well as letting go of my need to "win" every food war. Life will be a lot more relaxing once I embrace the snack while staying focused on achieving a nutritionally balanced week.

1 comment:


    I needed to read this in the worst way.

    So true that one day she hates a food and another she loves it - one day she'll eat oranges and stock up on vit C and the next, it's only meat and carbs.

    And the snacking... OH the snacking. What a relief. I'm going to aim for healthy weeks and healthy consumption at days end (not meal time's end because snacks aren't evil...) after reading this.

    thankful you posted this! how did I miss it??


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