OMG! The frustration, the irritation, the way our kids behaviour can totally deflate us as parents.
Is it worth giving in and catering for our children’s individual wants when it comes to mealtime?
Is it worth all their fussing, which in turn creates a fuss. Is it worth the effort of making 5 different meals for the family each night?
And then is it worth the difficulty we face when travelling with children who won’t eat in regular places?
On the other side, is it worth the tears and tantrums when we encourage them to eat a meal without the fuss, that may not be their preference but is the nourishing food that their body will thrive from?
I have taken on the fussy eating challenges head first and it wasn’t long before the glory (for my son, my hubby and me) was palpable!
I was personally faced with this three and a half years ago when I met my now-hubby. It was a ‘buy one, get one free offer’, with his almost five year old son a miniature version of himself… except for one thing – Now-hubby made himself deliciously nutritious meals every night, while Son was on a merry-go-round of the handful of foods he would eat without making life difficult.
To give you an idea of where we were at back then, our first family date to a cafe, Son had a lemonade with red cordial and a bowl of hot chips with tomato sauce.
Mealtimes were a well executed plan of attack from the moment Son woke up for the day. He’d pull the toast out from under the scrambled egg, leave the egg and eat the toast, he’d refuse oat porridge, or a smoothie. He would only eat brightly coloured artificially flavoured fruitloops with milk.
The common routine was then to put the eggs into the bin, and twenty minutes later, predictably, Son would say “Daddy, I’m hungry” and he’d be given tiny teddies and fruit yoghurt. This pattern of rejecting real food and just to fill up on rubbish food repeated itself throughout the day, every day.
Son knew where every petrol station was on every road they drove on, and he knew that if he piped up before a petrol station to say “Daddy, I’m hungry”, Daddy would reliably pull in to buy something fast and junky to fill him up.
Then, is it really fair to rouse on your child when it’s likely the rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes that are having them run around like headless chooks, closely followed by teary tantrums, closely followed by extreme lethargy.
Lunches were honey, jam, peanut butter, or vegemite on white bread with margarine. Dinners were a rotation of frozen fish fingers, chicken nuggets or mini sausages with the same three vegetables, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cucumber.
I hear some of you say, he wasn’t eating too poorly… but is he eating what he needs to grow up with his nutritional needs met? His only protein (over processed and over salted) is at dinner, and he’s surviving on a mostly refined carbohydrate diet which lack all kinds of essential mineral, vitamins and oils.
In my opinion, the greatest gift you can give your child is good nourishment! It’s how I show my children that I love them, knowing that everyday I am doing my part to help them gain health, combat disease and develop an understanding of how their body works best.
These days Son eats absolutely everything but we had a strategy to get us to where we are today. I’ll outline this step by step process in my next post that my Now-hubby and I rolled out over about 3 months to transform his tastebuds, break his habits, and open his world to new nutritious flavour to create a healthier and happier child.