Food fight!

I believe it’s impossible to bring up the topic of kids + food with parents without getting some level of opinion. From sneaking fruits & veggies into their diets, to allowing them to eat deep-fried chicken-whatever-a-nugget-is… we’ve all struggled. 

Most food-issues with kids, like much of parenthood, is a trial/error situation. I’ve witnessed my children eating salad at age 2, sushi at age 4… hell, I just enjoyed tasting a variety of olive oil with my 7yo a few weeks ago. However, both of my kids could turn around the next day and throw a major fit over being served the exact same food they supposedly loved the day before.  

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Recently, while the hubs was out of state for the week, my neighbor (who also has a 7yo) invited the 3 of us over for dinner. I asked if I could bring anything, and made my awesome brie wrap (mainly for the adults to nibble on while we caught up) My 7yo neighbor was excited to try it and immediately made a face, saying, and I quote “Ugh, this tastes like the car wash!!” Her mother was mortified, wondering how in the world she ever tasted a car wash, but I about died laughing! Hey, even I have accepted that brie is not for everyone. 

For the main entree, my neighbor made jambalaya with shrimp & pork that was super yummy.

My kids saw it & threw a fit.

Not just any fit mind you, the tantrum to end all tantrums.

I don’t know if their friend’s response to my brie wrap gave them permission or what, but it pissed me off! I tried to remain as calm as possible, threatening to leave unless they took a bite, or at least ate something else on their plates.

My neighbor started to get upset too, yelling at my oldest to stop screaming at me like she was. Ugh. It was so uncomfortable. So glad I brought a couple of beers, because wow. I needed them desperately.

After about 5 minutes, my youngest happily accepted a salad with ranch dressing. Yes, I had to make it for her, but I totally took it. After a painfully long 20 minutes, my oldest finally gave in and took a reluctant bite after her friend convinced her how yummy the shrimp was. She claimed to hate it, but then she took another bite… and another… until she had eaten about 3/4 of it. 

Yeah, she “hated” it.

After the kids were excused, my neighbor looked me straight in the eye and asked me what we did for dinner. Did we make the kids separate food? Ick. Not a fun topic to bring up. Especially when she quoted her pediatrician drilling into her to never make her daughter something different. She is divorced & has one child to feed. I have 2 kids and a husband to please. So, there are definitely nights when the kids want fish-sticks and the hubs & I do not. It’s not always easy to please 4 people with one dish. But we have been making Natalie try whatever we’re eating — if we are eating different entrees.

Just to put things in perspective — our pediatrician is one that is both supportive, and realistic. Our two major issues have always been potty-training and food. The two issues our pediatrician told us we have pretty much zero control over, and to not lose sleep over it, because it’s just not worth it.
I don’t enjoy being a short-order cook, but I really don’t enjoy fighting with my kids at the dinner table. I try to pick my battles, and yes, that includes meals. 

I’m not a perfect mother, I didn’t make my own baby-food, and there are days when my kids eat more snacks & junk-food than they should. But I know I am a better cook than my own mother. My menu growing up consisted of anything made in the microwave. If we did eat things like eggs or chicken, it was microwaved. Yes, raw chicken, in the microwave, with zero seasonings. My dad occasionally grilled, but everything was well-done. Good times. 

My kids have been exposed to more unique foods in their short lives than I had experienced in the 20 years I lived with my folks. 

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I consider that a win.

The recent struggle at the neighbors’ did inspire me to try a little harder than we have been, telling the girls they can pick one thing to eat on their dinner plate, but the hubs & I get to pick the other 2 items… and they have to finish 2 of the 3 options. This “new” development hasn’t occurred without the nightly dinner screams & whines. I’m hoping the struggle will subside soon, but if they don’t, I’ll keep drinking trying. 

Thing is, my kids aren’t as picky as they think they are. They have tried so many foods since they started eating solids, as I vowed to never say “my kids won’t like that” and I’ve lived up to that… but… not without a fight.

How do you deal with picky eaters?

Will you be joining in on my twitter party this evening?? Hope so!! 

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  1. Posted April 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    The idea to ‘finish two of the three options’ is a good one. I’m glad to hear that it is working for you.
    Reading the account of your neighbor scolding you is really frustrating. I do not understand why she felt the need to lecture you when you were obviously having a rough time. I am all for calling another person out on something that is actually going to harm a child, but being critical about whether they eat the same dishes as you is absurd. You’re a great mom and as long as you are feeding your girls we should all be positive or if we cant do that we should just stay out of it. This constant need to critique other parenting (as if we all don’t have problems) is ridiculous.

    • Kim
      Posted April 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Well, to me it is more of an issue that your daughter thinks that it is acceptable that she can scream at you when being presented with a situation that that did not please her rather than the actual issue of the food itself. That would be the issue I would try to resolve as I think that may be the more importan than the food on her plate. If she had expressed her displeasure in a different manner, this whole thing would not have been much of an issue.

    • Posted April 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Valerie. It is indeed frustrating. I know my neighbor was trying to help… but… it wasn’t an easy situation. It’s been a struggle for awhile, but it’s so sporadic, we can never predict “when” they will be decide to express their negative ‘tude. Both of my girls are usually on their best behavior when we’re away from home… which was why it was SO incredibly embarrassing.

  2. Posted April 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    New follower from UBP! Love your title and your sense of humor! Look forward to following you!

  3. Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I think food is fuel and when they are little they need to eat to grow and develop. So I never force the issue and I try to place new food items with favorites. If Alex is really happy with his main course he is way more likely to branch out and nibble on the new food. However, I do not believe anyone has the right to “parent” my children. Unsolicited advice is offensive and makes a fun evening take a nasty turn. Your kids will be fine.

    • Posted April 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you on unsolicited advice. But I’ve experienced times when 2 (or more!) parents are better than one. When I’m with a bunch of kids, whether their parents are with us or not, it’s understood that we all take care of each other. I wasn’t a huge fan of “the village” concept at first, but some kids will actually listen to their non-parent better than their own. It’s not for everyone though, that’s for sure.

  4. Michelle
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    And yet another great topic. Ok, so my kids are quite a bit older than yours 19,16, and 11. I wouldn’t say they are picky eaters. They will pretty much eat whatever I eat give or take one or two items. My 19 year old loves spinach and has always loved spinach. I have no idea why or how but he does and I love that he does. He no longer lives at home though so now I eat it by myself. However the other two only know they don’t like it because they can’t say that without trying it. They have tried a lot of food. That is and will always be the rule in our house. You can’t say you don’t like something without trying it first. Now I do have a somewhat picky husband. Therefore we don’t cook outrageous things at our house. No fish (sad face here), no meatloaf (another sad face, although my kids love it, not the husband), no wild game (sad face yet again). But it is ok because we can be creative enough with chicken, beef, and pork. Now we have never cooked separate foods for our children and we never will. If they truly don’t like something, there is always pb&j. My daughter (16) doesn’t drink milk. She would have this habit of making cereal with a ton of milk and then pouring the milk down the drain. So, I told her she either doesn’t eat cereal for breakfast or she cuts down on the milk and drinks it at the end (it is much sweeter after cereal). She has found that she can tolerate it after the cereal is gone, and she cut down on how much milk will be left in her bowl. Good luck with your girls, I am sure you and they will figure it out.

    • Posted April 23, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Wow, thank you so much for such a great comment. Parenthood is full of challenges. The food issues are frustrating, but they do seem to be getting better daily. Consistency is important… but so is picking your battles. Finding the balance of a peaceful + healthy dinner may not always be easy, but we can only do so much!

  5. Michelle
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    For sure parenthood is full of challenges and they don’t get easier the older they get. Food issues are frustrating but if that is all the worries are right now, I say your golden. At least they are eating something. Keep your chin up momma your doing a wonderful job.

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