Once upon a time there was a little girl who HATED most vegetables.
On Sundays this little girl would go to her aunt and uncle's place. It was a busy house on most days but Sunday was a big event every week. The little girl open the fridge and eat yogurt with rasberries, oranges, a ham sandwich with cheese, and all kinds of food.
By three in the afternoon she had been eating on and off for about 3 hours and was full. Then she would fall asleep or go play outside depending on the weather.
Well!! The little girl's aunt grew up during the Depression on the praries. She did not tolerate anyone hating food. At supper time the little girl would only pick at her meat and leave the rest untouched. Her aunt was unhappy and would scold the little girl for not eating.This did not lead to a great relationship. The girl would loudly pronounce that she didn't want any turnip,or cauliflower, or peas, or baked potato (she wanted mashed potates) and on and on and on. As this girl got older, she even developed ticks to avoid confrontations and also to prevent having to eat all these yucky things.
Now, our little had an older cousin who's fiancee loved vegetables (even went so far as to be a vegetarian for a couple of years). This was convenient for the girl because she would sit beside her at the table. When the woman wasn't looking the little girl, that I was, would scoop the turnips and the broccoli and what ever else I didn't want to eat and put it on the woman's plate.
The woman's name was Catherine. She was a good sport about it (thank you Jacquie) but always made sure that I had 2 bites left of whatever, and the deal was that I would eat those 2 bites. (Well, sure. I wasn't going to let you totally off the hook)
Sometimes I ate it, sometimes I didn't (but when I didn't I would volunteer to help clear the dishes so no one would see that I hadn't eaten what was on my plate).
The rest of the week was just as bad. Not only was I a picky eater I was a slow eater. On average it would take me a hour to get through a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a couple of crackers. My father once resorted to putting a clock on the table but them I would watch the clock tick instead of eating. No dice.
Now I am in my early 30's. By no stretch of the imagination am I considered under-weight. I eat fairly well and even occasionally eat turnips. I am a Registered Nurse and I am in a position to advise parents who are worried about their children's eating habits.
In my experience as a picky eater and as child-care provider and as a nurse, I have found that the less fuss made over meals the better. If children find that supper time is a battle, then they will join in. By various devious means such as drinking a whole glass of milk just before eating, doubling up on the afternoon snack or insisting on grilled cheese for every meal for a week, they will help you make meal time unpleasant for everyone.
One way to evaluate a kid's diet is to balance out the nutritional value of what they swallow over a week or month rather than day to day. Children between the ages of 1 to 3 eat less than they did in the second half of their first year. Their caloric requirements are significantly less because they are growing more slowly at this age, than they do as an infant.
An effective way to ensure that your child comes to the table in a better frame of mind, is to make sure they come to the table hungry. Stop snacks about 1 hour before meals, and don't turn meal times into a fight. Involve the children in food preparation, even give them limited choices on what to prepare. They are more likely to eat if they have helped to fix it up.
Family meals are learning times for children. They learn how to interact with others and how others interact with them. If it becomes a battle of wills, the child will learn that by making a fuss he gets what he or she wants in the end. By acting as if it were not a big deal, but also with the understanding that they will not get anything fancy if they decline to eat what is served (have the child make a sandwich instead if they don't want to eat what has been served), they will come around to trying what everyone else is eating.
As long as the child is growing and developing at a healthy rate there is no cause for concern. If you, as the parent make good food choices at the grocery store and eliminate or limit junk food then there should be happy growing children in your house.
Good luck! Jacquie.
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