We’ve all met them or at least heard of them – kids who are picky eaters.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’ve slaved over the stove to cook a healthy, nutritious and tasty meal. But your children turn up their noses and announce, “I don’t like it, Mommy!” before they’ve even bothered to taste it. Once the food is on the table, said children gag over each bite and spend the rest of the meal trying to escape in hopes of Mommy caving in and making the requisite fall-back – the infamous peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.
My daughter Olivia fits the above description to a tee. While she isn’t the most verbal two-year-old, she does know how to emphatically shake her head at each proffered spoonful and lock her jaw closed. No amount of coaxing, threatening, or crazy airplane noises can induce this little girl to even “try just one bite.”
Before I became a mom, I was determined that I would not cater to my child’s eating whims. That was before. The aftermath: “OKAAYY! I’ll get you what you want!”
I finally figured out that each day presents new challenges to my parental authority and that I really, really hate the eating fight. Dinner and food should be fun, but meal-time was just turning into one endless battleground. I thought, “I have enough problems, do I really want to create a new fight three times a day?” And I decided there must be an easier way!
Recently, I posted a picky eater question on Facebook and the overall response was, “Well, just let them go hungry and offer the same meal again. If they’re hungry, they’ll eventually eat whatever you put in front of them.” Ha! My kids are too smart for me. Yes, they would eventually eat what I offered, but only a few bites, just enough to take the hunger pains away but not enough for them to get anything worthwhile into their quickly growing bodies. The result? Weight loss. Enough weight loss to get my daughter Olivia sent back to the nutritionist and pediatrician.
One person came to the rescue. “Have you ever tried veggie/fruit smoothies?” My response, “GAG!” “No, it really works, try it!”
Guess what? It works! I’ve discovered that banana masks just about any veggie flavor, so this is my go-to fruit to throw in the blender. Here’s my recipe:
- 1 Banana (or strawberries, or peeled apples, applesauce, etc. etc.)
- Veggies (So far I’ve tried spinach, avocado, and roasted squash, but will try others over the next few weeks)
- Almond milk
I throw it all into a blender and blend until smooth and drinkable. I put the smoothie in a colored cup so they can’t see the strange colors, pop a lid and straw on, and VOILA! I’ve also been known to throw in yogurt, strawberries (any fruit really), applesauce, and peanut butter to mix things up a little.
Dinnertime meltdowns have somewhat receded. I’m back to putting what I’ve cooked onto their plates. And if it’s something I KNOW they won’t eat (veggies for example), I still insist on at least the same number of bites that corresponds to their ages. Trust me, gagging and the occasional stubborn-streaks still exist.
But once they eat the requisite number of bites, I quit worrying about the food and just let them enjoy table-time with mommy. True, sometimes not much food is actually consumed from their plates, but afterwards I whip up a veggie smoothie and I can now relax a little bit more knowing that my kids are DEFINITELY getting fruits AND veggies into their diets each day!