Friday, October 15, 2010

Food Fight

Sometimes I think a habit has to get really bad before you're willing to address it. You have to hit the breaking point before you realize that something's gotta change.

That's how I felt a few weeks ago when I realized that my kids were getting pickier and pickier about what they were eating. They've always been pretty decent eaters - eating certain things that other kids won't eat. But it was getting to the point where I was starting to make separate meals for them (something I thought I'd never do) and a few of the staple meals that they used to enjoy were suddenly becoming a fight. I hated the whining when we would go to someone else's place for supper - a basic meal like pizza was an issue because it tasted "different" than ours at home. I sensed we were on a downward spiral and I knew it would only get harder to change the longer I waited. So, one day the inspiration/motivation came to me. It was time to do something.

I decided that from now on the kids would eat what I serve them. The rules for myself (& Erik) were no nagging, no spoon feeding, no doing countdowns to coerce them into taking each bite. The rule for them was if they didn't finish what I had given them by the end of the meal then they would get it at the next meal or snack before they could have anything else (with the exception of breakfast). Keziah wouldn't eat her carrot soup the other night for supper. So, I heated up her bowl for lunch the next day and she still chose not to eat it. Finally, for afternoon snack, she grudgingly polished it off. I've always hesitated to "deprive" them of food - since my children fall in the "featherweight" category, but really, they are NOT going to starve themselves.

As for Silas, I can't quite reason with him yet so he's exempt from the rules - but I'm still serving him whatever I make, instead of assuming that he won't like it. He's surprised me a couple of times by eating something that I wouldn't have thought he would.

I'm not typing this to boast at what a wonderful mother I am.

OK, maybe a little bit of bragging - because last night I saw that my efforts were starting to pay off. I pulled out an old recipe I hadn't tried in awhile - probably stuck in the back of my recipe box because I figured the kids would NEVER eat it. One of those chicken & rice casseroles with mushroom soup and onion soup mix. A very non-descript colour of mush all mixed together (but tasty!). The whole time I was mixing it up, I was also gearing myself up for the fight that would surely ensue at the supper table shortly after.
But, to my surprise, it went relatively... well.

Micah took a bite and said, "it's not that good, but it's not that bad either" and he proceeded to eat the amount I told him to without a fight. Keziah was a bit more hesitant but ended up eating her serving before meal time was over. It, once again, reminded me that with a little perseverance (or maybe stubbornness?) on my part, we can conquer some bad habits.

Next challenge - sibling rivalry. Any suggestions??


The Keowns said...

i know kids that are WAY pickier then yours so be very thankful.
My kids can be challenging as well, the other night we went over to friends for thankgiving dinner and I knew it would be a struggle.
I discovered my children love gravy. On turkey, on mash pototoes........i know we 'think' our kids won't like the food so we don't even offer it and have a substitute instead.
My kids love the chicken and rice casserole if I make it with cream of chicken soap instead of mushroom soap.
Liam on the other hand, is like Silas. When we were at Disney, we ate at an african resteraunt and Liam ate his body weight in hummas. Something I would have never thought my kids would try.
i think the main thing is not 'giving in' when they don't like what they see.
they won't starve!

kelly ens said...

i have done this with Taeya a few times too. she's not super picky, but is just SOOOOOO SLOOOOOW. i didn't stay consistent with it though, and i know that's the biggest part of the battle.
glad you're seeing some success!!! :)

Wenona said...

Phil and I also have agreed not to force feed Koen. If he doesn't want to eat what we have given him, that's his choice and he doesn't get anything else until the next meal. I don't cook separate meals either, because that can get out of hand pretty quick!
Good for you for being so consistent and seeing your efforts pay off is the best feeling!!

Mel said...

That is HILARIOUS!!! I love it - what a great idea....and the fact that it's working is awesome. We have the same problem with Brookie - she's totally a "snacker", but picks at her meals. Might have to consider your strategy....

Kathy said...

Way to go Jamie!!....
That is so true, they will not starve themselves, sooner or later they will be hungry enough to eat it....I have much the same struggle with the twins. They are grazers, and I find it hard to get them to eat all that is on their plates, but it might just be that I am giving them too much....

Trev and Rebekah said...

Way to go Jamie!

Last night Trev and I sat down and came up with some plans for discipline and how we were going to be consistent on somethings. One of those was meal times.

For too long we've told our son how many bites he needs to eat, let him leave the table if he was done, made separate meals, even helped him eat. No more!

We have decided to just give him smaller portions of what is on the table, to all sit and wait till he's done eating (he's slower than us) and to not make a big deal if he doesn't eat it. But then he doesn't get night snack and that meal will be for night snack. I haven't taken it as far as getting him to eat it the next day but maybe we should.

The other day Trev was making egg salad sandwhiches and discovered that Isaiah liked hard boiled eggs. Who would have thought.

Jamie said...

I should also mention that I started designated snack times at about 10 am and 3 pm - to avoid the "grazing" that was happening at our house :P

Elissa said...

You're awesome Jamie :) Caleb's usually not that picky of an eater, but even he has his moments... do you recall Thanksgiving dinner last weekend? After we put the TINEST dot of yams on his plate... "I will NEVER eat anything orange!!!!" Wow.

Melissa said...

Well done!

Jen Glen said...

Great job! I most readily agree with your decision...not that you need my agreement...but I still think, way to go!

Bonnie said...

Way to go Jamie! I think one of the best things you can do as a parent is "stick to your guns!" Consistency is the key. I'm sure it wasn't easy bringing that carrot soup out for the 3rd time but look at how it paid off. Nice work. As for sibling rivalry... I got nothin' ;)