Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Food...Why do my kids hate it?

Okay, obviously they don't hate ALL food. For instance, they LOVE apples and oranges, peas, carrots (esp raw), french fries, etc. There are wonderfully healthy things that either of them would eat until they were ill...these foods are not the issue.

It's the other 200 items that are that are the problem.

I have never been a particularly enthusiastic cook, and somewhere along the way this spring I stopped planning my menus and have been serving my family primarily items off my "Stand-By Meals" list. Not making things any easier for me it my children's selective appetites - why try a new recipe when chances are neither of them will eat it and I'll end up in a power struggle for 20 minutes?

So I've been reviewing my options.

Option #1: Continue as we have been, with every other dinner (or more) turning into a battle of wills: "Eat your dinner,"or "If you don't eat your chicken, you don't get more noodles," or "if you don't eat your dinner you don't get a bedtime snack."

This last threat leaves me hoping and praying they'll at least take a couple bites, because I am totally paranoid that if they don't have a snack before bed (unless dinner has been very late and they ate well) they'll wake up in the middle of the night hungry, and since they are sharing a room, this could be very bad.

Option #2: Lay down the law. "If you don't eat your dinner, you don't get snack." Period. And prepare to suffer the consequences (kids potentially waking up hungry in the middle of the night), which honestly probably wouldn't happen more than a few times. It's just that I'm getting very selfish about my sleep right now, since NOT ONLY do Leah and Ben periodically wake me up at 3:30am (ALWAYS 3:30. Must be some wicked sleep cycle business), but so does their still in-utero little brother. Lovely.

Also, with this option, where is the line drawn for "eating your dinner"? Can they just TASTE it in order to get snack? Or do they have to eat it all, or a set portion of it?

And how much snack do they get? A set amount, and if they're still hungry they can eat the rest of their dinner? Or enough to fill them up? ARGH!

I don't want to imply that my kids are incredibly picky eaters. Either of them will eat most things most of the time - but I can't predict when those times will be, and of course, if one likes something, it's practically guaranteed that the other will be hesitant. And why not? WHY ON EARTH would the fact that their sibling is eating the said dish happily mean that they might actually like it, also?! For goodness sakes, that sounds remarkably close to common sense.

Here's another conundrum: tonight we had Cheeseburger Noodle Hamburger Helper (don't judge. I'm almost 38 weeks pregnant, folks, and meal planning has not been my forte lately, as mentioned earlier). Anyway, Ben LOVES macaroni and cheese, but would NOT eat more than a couple noodles of dinner. They are almost exactly the same, one with the hamburger and the other a bit less saucy. What gives?

Experienced parents out there, please let me know what works (or hasn't worked) for you. And you folks out there with babies or no kids at all? Just you wait. You may be laughing now, but when your time comes, you will be asking ME for help, and I'll just say, "Oh, my kids were such good eaters, I don't even remember what we did!"


Blue Castle said...

Oh, poor Lyz. I hope you have that baby soon. And I hope it sleeps all night - right off the bat. :) I am horrible without sleep. I'm getting grouchy just thinking about it. I feel for you.

Don't have much advice for you either. My kids aren't too picky. Well, they are, at times, but we have a rule - eat it or starve - that works pretty good. :) We don't have snacks or desserts (I know the no snack thing is bad, I've just never done it) either, so it's more a matter of - if you don't eat dinner, you'll eat it for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner again. Whatever it takes. And they have to wait until the next meal to eat it. I don't dish up too much food for them and I do make them take a few bites of things they absolutely hate - tomatoes and onions for one child - but they don't have to eat the whole thing. Unless there's whining involved and then, by George, they WILL eat it all. :)

I'm heartless.

nydampress said...

Hey tonight we also had Hamburger Helper (Lasagna flavor)! Of course my audience of one is the easiest to please EVER :)

One little trick I always do with the H.H. is I add about a 1/3 box of pasta (in tonight's case whole wheat rotini) to the rest of the H.H. I hate how saucy it can be, so this way we can get more servings of it, and the flavor is plenty rich despite the non sauciness. Also we used ground turkey tonight instead of burger and it was good.
Also with Tuna Helper I do the same thing with the pasta and then I add half a bag of frozen veggies to the mix. Am I pathetic with all this H.H. eating? We only do it once every couple of weeks...

Can't wait to see that baby you got cookin'!

Angela said...

Our rule is also eat or go hungry. My kids are fully aware that if they don't want to eat what is served there is no food until the next meal. They have never woken up in the middle of the night hungry. Even when they chose not to eat supper. However they have been at my face at 7 am professing to be STARVING.

We don't put much on their plate so they will be able to eat it all. But I find my middle child won't eat something because she doesn't like the way it looks. It could be chocolate (her fav) but if it looked unappealing to her she won't touch it.
Long story short I guess is if they want a hungry tummy so be it. Mine will be full :)


Ruth said...

remember when mom stopped making lasagna because i wouldn't eat it? cause the cottage cheese (substitute for ricotta) looked like brains to me.

also, i wouldn't eat barley in soups because it looked exactly like the diagram of a red blood cell in mrs. schmike's third grade science class.

yay visual picky eaters! now i'll eat anything. don't get me started on people that still only eat mac and cheese, chicken fingers, and ketchup. sad, just sad.

Suzi said...

I'd try the 2 suggestions the others mentioned.

1. Bring out the same plate of food that they didn't finish.

2. Let them starve!

Well I really don't think they'll starve. We don't do evening snacks and we typically eat between 5:30-6:00.

Sometimes when Miranda doesn't eat well she says she's hungary, right before bed of course (7:30). Luckily for me she doesn't fuss much when I say "you didn't eat your dinner," and I offer her a drink and then put her to bed.

They've never woken up in the middle of the night hungry. Also, they don't eat breakfast until 7:30 at the absolute earliest, usually later on non-preschool days.

Good luck.

JJ and EJ said...

Strangely my daughter always eats what she's offered... let's hope the trend continues. heehee

Lyz said...

You guys are so hard core! For lunch I definitely bring it out at snack time if they don't eat "enough". But I don't think I could bring myself to serve their dinner to them at breakfast.

So far we haven't had a major issue again, so we'll see - Thanks for your input, all you non-bedtime snackers!

And EJ - Just enjoy it while it lasts. At 6 months the refusals start!