The Picky Eater Chronicles
Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov
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Let’s set the scene. Just two years ago, my kids refused to eat turkey and mashed potatoes as well as all the other traditional Thanksgiving fixings. Well, we’ve come a long way during the past two years as my children tasted, refused and sometimes even protested about trying new foods. But this past Thanksgiving served as a milestone holiday for my family.
My older son Bobby ate turkey, corn and mashed potatoes. Although the food was neutral in color, it was a big step forward. Remember that two years ago, he refused all of the Thanksgiving holiday foods. I did bring my younger son Billy foods I knew he liked because I know he will simply refuse to eat rather than try something new at someone else’s suggestion.
I brought Billy a PB and jelly sandwich, sweet potato cranberry Squeezer, dried mango and freeze-dried peaches. He sat next to his father and his pop. I heard Pop (my father) tell him he needed to eat animal protein to grow tall and be strong. His cousins chimed in to say he already was super strong…especially while playing football earlier that day. Meanwhile, my husband’s father expressed his bewilderment about how my son could even grow at all while eating these foods.
Well, I love—not!—how everyone thinks that it’s okay to comment about my son’s food intake. I could easily comment on everyone else’s food choices and behaviors around eating but I don’t. My Billy quietly took it all in and happily ate his sandwich. Mind you, when it was time for dessert, both of my kids refused the pies and the cheesecake. They chose to eat ice cream…and left without a fuss.
So while Bobby’s intake certainly has improved, it’s not a nutrition regimen to brag about even though he’s come a long way. It just makes me happy to have an easy, protest-free meal. Meanwhile, my younger Billy, the pickier of the two from the very start, continues to need lots of exposure to new foods. But kids are funny; you just can’t force this issue.
Later on Thanksgiving night, I talked with Billy and told him I was okay with his food choices. I said it may be true that he might be a little taller if he chose to eat a bigger variety of foods…especially foods with more protein. I asked if he was interested in trying more foods… particularly if we kept his attempts just between us. He smiled his devilish smile and we hugged.
Photo Credit: © simplyAIM
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After food shopping on Sunday, I gave both boys half a bagel with cream cheese and jelly. And that’s when the drama began! I was simply asking them to try one bite… one lick…one touch…one anything! Bobby took a bite, said it was okay, but wanted his grilled cheese sandwich. So I made him his grilled cheese sandwich. Billy, on the other hand, carried on and on…until he finally tried it…but not before breaking down in tears. Actually, I really do think he liked it, but I doubt he will ever admit that he did. So, what was supposed to be a neutral and calm tasting experience became emotionally heightened—probably more harmful than helpful. I made turkey tacos for dinner that night. Bobby said he would try a taco but freaked out when I added the fixings. He went into a total tail spin. Meanwhile, Billy ate the taco shell in pieces and dipped his finger in the guacamole and held the black beans. That was a huge success—a giant step for Billy. Bobby continued his rant until I asked if there was a part of the taco he might be willing to eat. He chose the turkey meat.
So I sat there with them while they finished eating; my husband and I were already done eating by that point. And then I grabbed a clementine…and enjoyed it even more because the boys joined me. The three of us happily peeled, shared and ate about four clementines. So what started as just another challenging meal time ended up being fun and fruitful. I do wish these special moments with my sons could be tear free, but I guess life would be far too easy then!