Eat, Darling, Eat!

I had the best intentions.  My son was going to be a Good Eater of Good Food. So, I breastfed and wallowed in the knowledge that I was feeding him Nature’s Perfect Food and giving him an Excellent Nutritional Start In Life.

Once it came time to give him solid food, I anxiously asked my pediatrician for advice.  “How do I get a balanced diet into him now?” I asked her. “You don’t,” she replied.  Did I mention that my pediatrician has two young children of her own?

But I tried. I went with super-expensive organic stuff made from vegetables that have been rocked to sleep by farmers that sing them lullabyes in the fields.  I bought organic Oat-Os from Whole Foods instead of plain old Cheerios.  I went to the farmer’s market religiously to get him fresh, locally grown produce. And he liked it.  He really did!

Then.  One night.  We went out to dinner.  And I gave him a french fry. Love bloomed.

Oh, I try to make myself feel better about it with weird mommy-math: Vegetables are good! French fry = potato = vegetable.  Ketchup = tomato = vegetable. High fructose corn syrup = corn = equals vegetable.  Right?

(OK, even I know that last one is pushing it.  So, we buy the organic ketchup with no corn syrup at all and is probably financing a new condo in Palm Beach for the Heinz family.)

The issue now is that my kid will happily not eat.  He slurps some juice here or there, shoves some goldfish or a fruit roll-up in on the fly but a whole meal?  Not on my watch.  Oh, he eats at daycare.  But not for me. For me he picks at his dinner and I throw all sorts of weird food at him if I think he’ll chew and swallow it. One night, he ate bananas and black olives for dinner.  That’s all.  Bananas.  And black olives. Even at the height of pregnancy cravings, I never thought those two foods should be combined. But I didn’t fight him on it because at least he was eating.

Sometimes I just give up altogether and tell myself that milk is a sufficient dinner for the boy who would still rather slurp on a bottle than go through the laborious motions of chewing and swallowing.  “Sure, go ahead,” I say. “Drink 18 ounces of milk instead of eating a real dinner.  You need the vitamin D and I don’t mind washing your sheets after you flood your diaper in the night due to your liquid diet.”

You know what else he won’t eat? Cookies.  I know. So weird. But wait.  It gets weirder.  He won’t eat ice-cream. He won’t eat cupcakes.  He won’t eat fruit snacks.  He won’t eat peanut butter. He won’t eat chicken goddam nuggets! A Twitter friend heard that and suggested I check to see if my son is actually a robot.

Right now he’s in a watermelon phase.  If you asked him what he would like for dinner, he’d say “Wa-melon  and lello-snack!” (“Lello-snack” or” yellow snack” is code for Smart Puffs, which used to be called Pirate’s Booty or, on one memorable occasion of me not being able to remember a brand name, Booty Chunks). Clearly that is not going to work, as I learned the hard way that a dinner like that will cause him to wake up at 4am hungry and sobbing for milk the way he did during the famous Nothing But Applesauce For Me Tonight, Mommy! phase.  So, I have become a hot dog pusher just to get enough protein into him to keep him asleep at night.

I’m sure that I have set myself up to have a lifetime of food struggles with this child.  He’ll probably subsist on hot dogs from now until he’s old enough to want to impress a girl (or boy) he’s dating, at which point his pallet will broaden.  That’s what happened to my father who famously ate hamburgers and peanut butter and jelly, almost exclusively, until he married my mother. My mother’s food philosophy is “Eat what you like, don’t eat what you don’t like, and don’t talk about it” which leaves very little room for argument and resulted in my father growing to be a rather sophisticated eater.  But my mom at least had some raw material to work with inasmuch as my father was willing to actually eat. Unlike my son.


I could go on all day about this but I need to go now.  I need to nuke a hot dog and cut up some watermelon. It’s better than starving, right?

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13 comments for “Eat, Darling, Eat!

  1. May 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I’m going to go ahead and give you my completely non-professional spiel on kids and food.

    They are smarter than us.

    And I mean this in a good way. Think about it. How many days have you just not been hungry? Or not in the mood for something? Or think about your preference for a certain meal (I would be happy to never have to eat breakfast; MacGyver doesn’t think his day is complete without eggs and a bagel). Or how you really used to love sweet potatoes, but maybe the last few months they haven’t been doing it for you.

    Well, kids are the same. They just can’t tell us that. They seem to eat when they are hungry. And they tend to eat what their bodies tell them to. They don’t seem to eat for the sake of eating like we do. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

    Turtle is a “good eater.” He likes a lot of variety. But he will eat breakfast, graze nonstop until nap, and then either lunch or dinner is hit or miss. Sometimes both. Sometimes neither. He gets a lot of fruits, a lot of veggies, a lot of healthy snacks. Now, he doesn’t wake up at 4am because he’s hungry, so maybe offer C something else that you know he will eat just to fill him up, and don’t worry about the traditional meals.

    The whole thing drives MacGyver batty, but in observation, I think the kids may have something right. They eat to live, not live to eat.

    And don’t worry about the sweets thing. Turtle doesn’t seem to care for potatoes. I almost demanded a maternity test for that one 😉

    :steps off soapbox, walks away:

  2. JS
    May 12, 2010 at 9:37 am

    In my extensive research into how to get a picky child to eat food, I discovered the following things: 1. Children’s energy levels are lowest at night, therefore their caloric needs are lowest. If he gets enough calories at daycare, let him pick at dinner. Kids naturally stop eating when they’ve gotten enough calories for the day (unlike adults). 2. Forcing them to eat only sets up eating as a battle for control. Which they’ll win. If they don’t want to eat, don’t make them. 3. Make sure his diet is balanced for the week, not for each individual day. Some kids will consume nothing but milk for several days in a row, then eat adult-sized portions of everything for a day. If he’s getting sufficient veggies/fruit/protein scattered over the course of a week, he’s okay.

    And let’s not forget my brother, who would only eat five things up until the day he left for college (none of which were a vegetable or a fruit). He may have expanded to ten things by now. And yet somehow he grew to 6’2″ and hasn’t died of scurvy yet. 🙂 I comfort myself with that when H won’t eat.

  3. Peg
    May 12, 2010 at 9:56 am

    gee… sounds like a little boy I know… who now eats broccoli, btw, so not all hope is lost. I don’t even think he’s doing it because of a girl! 🙂

  4. May 12, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I just let out the loudest bellow of a laugh at my desk. Booty Chunks? BOOTY CHUNKS? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA OMG Still laughing.

    You made my morning.
    And oh yeah… sorry about the eating stuff. I don’t have to deal with that just yet thankfully! 🙂

  5. May 12, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Heinz makes a non-high fructose corn syrup ketchup? Man, I need to get on that. I always feel dreadful whenever I have ketchup, or yogurt, or any of the many food items I eat that are slowly killing me. (My best friend’s really into healthy eating, and has made me self-conscious of almost everything I put in my mouth.) And I actually know tons of people who had crazy childhood eating habits, and they’re all perfectly normal now, so I bet he’ll be fine.

  6. May 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Boo Boo goes in spurts like this too…and happily cleans her plate at daycare. Lately she wants her fruit put in the microwave to get warm. She says its too cold on her teef otherwise.

    and she HATES all forms of potato. Turns up her nose and says “ICK!” to everything from tots to fries to mashed.

    p.s. you made me grab one of my stashed tupperwares of smart puffs out!

  7. May 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Ahhhh. The Wonderful World of Motherhood. I have said this before…”our kids will drive us absolutely, over-the-edge, CRAZY. I know, I know-we love them to pieces, they are everything to us, and light up our lives. But they can still drive us crazy…

    p.s. still lmao about the “chicken goddam nuggets”

  8. May 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Heheheh booty chunks.

    According to my mother, I almost exclusively ate hot dogs from the time I was old enough to grab one until about age 5.

    Sounds like your pediatrician was right!

  9. May 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I am SO living in that world right now..WHY or why do they love something one day and then throw a tantrum over eating it the next?

  10. May 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I just don’t understand it. All I want to do all day is eat and all my daughter wants to do is suck on ice. It’s not fair. I want to trade.

  11. Zakiyah
    May 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Great post, and like those mentioned above BOOTY CHUNKS??? hilarious.

    I do have one tip though, when my son went through this phase I kept frozen chicken breast tenderloins in the freezer. I buy them in a bag (you can get fresh or organic up to you) They aren’t breaded, they’re just chicken breast. I’d put them in the pan with a small amount of water and minimal seasoning. Once done, I’d cut them ino very small pieces (like pea-size) and serve with a veggie or pasta. Chicken breast is very easy to chew and I cut them up so small he barely had to chew it, plus they are juicy so he’d just down em.

    The cutting up part takes a little time but I usually did a lot at once and then put the rest in the fridge and used it over a couple of days.

    Hope that helps!

  12. Mae
    May 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    My child? Won’t eat poultry of any kind prepared in any way. No turkey, no chicken, I admit I have not – Oh! Wait! Yes we did try duck at Christmas. It was a no go.

    She wants to eat nothing but bread. I don’t want to fight every night at dinner, but I also don’t want to be making 2 or more different meals a night until she goes to college. This pas week we’ve started with the old school this is what it is and if you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it, but you’re not getting anything else but milk.

    And yeah, I’m confident I’ll be doing some overnight sheet changes. But something has to change.

    Life would be easier if she’d eat some damn chicken though… it really really would.

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