After yesterdays battles with my four year old this post is very apt. I had thought the food issues were coming to an end but it appears not. For most of us trying to get your children to eat healthily is an ongoing struggle and it’s hard to know what to do or what is the norm.
When I started weaning both Molly and Alice they ate everything (except salmon, they never liked that!). Purees consisted of immense amounts of fruit and veg and they then progressed to lots of yummy home cooked meals. They were big fans of casserole, fish pie and anything packed with flavour. I thought this would be easy. How wrong I was.
Molly was 19 months when Alice was born and I’m pretty sure the trauma of having a new baby sister impacted on her eating habits. She may have been seeking attention or just playing up but mealtimes became a constant battle. She went from eating everything to eating nothing.
At mealtimes she would push every bowl of food away. It was heartbreaking to watch as Molly would spend most dinner times crying too as she refused to eat. It made me so angry to watch as I knew she was hungry. She was a skinny little thing already. Chewing was painfully slow. Each mouthful would take at least 5 minutes to eat. She became a bit like a hamster as she would put food in her mouth but not eat it. One time I told her to leave the table as I had had enough. 45 minutes later I found her still with a cheek full of food. Who does that?!
I tried all sorts of different things. I obviously tried lots of different foods, I ignored her, I shouted, I cried. I tried getting her involved in making the food. Tried making mealtimes fun with some silly songs and dancing every time she ate a mouthful. Probably none were right but what on earth do you do? She even stopped eating my Mum’s food which was unheard of as she loved her Nanny’s dinner.
The only thing she would eat and my one saviour was pasta and cheese! She wouldn’t eat sauce so I couldn’t even hide veg in that. Just pasta, a bit of butter and some grated cheese. Every day. For lunch and dinner. I despaired. This went on for a good 12 months and in fact nearly 2 and a half years later I still have battles on an ongoing basis. Most meal times she requests pasta. She will now eat various meals but it is hit and miss. Sometimes she’ll wolf down her casserole and others she takes a little nibble. The pasta and cheese always gets demolished. ALWAYS.
When Alice hit 18 months we experienced exactly the same thing. I think she watched Molly and just copied her. Every bowl was pushed away. Even if it was something sweet. She’d quickly pull it back when she realised it was yogurt or apple crumble! This time I just accepted it and let her either have bread and butter or pasta. My husband and I disagreed on this but I knew there appeared to be little I could do. I did have a few melt downs about it and tried to make her eat but with absolutely no result other than a very distressed mummy and Alice. A year later we seem to be through the worst. She now eats most meals and the last few days has discovered a love of broccoli.
It took me a long time to resign myself to the fact that it was better to feed them what they wanted rather than nothing at all. Maybe they won so to speak but believe me it is not worth both you and your child being constantly upset. You can beat yourself up too much about what they should and shouldn’t be eating but at the end of the day so long as they eat something that is good enough for me.
Have you had food battles with the littles and how did you cope with it? I think I could still do with any bit of advice I can get!
Image by Anna Clarke Photography.