Friday, October 24, 2008

It's a Battlefield Around Here Lately...

Things are a little tough around our household lately. We've decided to crack down on Shea's eating habits. Why?

Shea's Previous Diet:
Breakfast- Pop-Tart containing chocolate
Lunch- maybe some peanut butter crackers, so-called granola bar containing rainbow chips bound to "granola" with high fructose corn syrup, and "fruit" snack in various colors never found in nature
Dinner- Perhaps Garlic Bread, Biscuits, Toast

Do you see the problem? Shea's diet has been dwindling for a few years now. We decided to pick our battles and chose pleases and thank-yous over what he ate. Mom friends consoled me with the thought that he would eventually try different foods. Instead? Instead, the selection of foods he'll deign to eat has been growing slimmer and slimmer. I have the only eight year old in the country that will not eat mac and cheese. Or pizza. Or hot dogs.

For years my mom and other moms argued that if we just continued putting healthy food in front of him, he'd eventually eat it. Rich and I talked about it and decided to bite the bullet and try it. I no longer prepare a breadlike side for him at dinner. I try to offer something innocuous for him to sample. The results?

Shea's new diet:
Breakfast- Whole Grain English Muffin
Lunch- peanut butter crackers and high fiber granola bar that he nibbles the chocolate chips off
Dinner- One glass of chocolate milk

So- any suggestions out there? Because the kid can't really afford to lose any weight.


Anonymous said...

You know that my child isn't 8 yet, but I know when I'm watching what I ingest, I keep the crap that I shouldn't have out of the house. So that's my suggestion. If the boy shouldn't have pop tarts, ban them from the house. Keep fresh fruit/veg on hand or get frozen! I freeze grapes and my wee-one loves them! My sister makes homemade chocolate syrup that has no junk in it and it's really good!

Mr Lady said...

Pediasure. It's saved my life. Also, I'm with speedymac77. If you don't want them eaten, don't EVEREVER buy them. Don't even walk down that aisle in the store.

Also, my neighbor had me over once for tea and cake. The cake (carrot or something) was really good, and it had pureed broccoli in it! I didn't even know until it was gone. THAT BLEW MY MIND.

michael in dc said...

Ummm...send him to the Marines?

I wonder about his attitude about food - what does he think about it, did he change his mind at some point, etc. I was thinking maybe someone outside the family could try to engage him about the subject to get him to explain himself to see if you could gain any insight but I don't know who that person would be or how you would go about it (do you tell him what it's going to be about or try to have the person sneak it in?). Also, I don't know if he will accept (or care) if you explain to him how his body isn't working correctly - and that includes his brain and being awake and all that stuff.

I wish you luck with this.

Regarding the second comment: Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote some book about making dishes that sneak healthy foods into other things. (I don't know if it would work because he would have to eat the "other things" and there's no guarantee that would happen.)

Gettysburg Mom said...

that's true- we are talking about a kid who doesn't eat cake. can i sneak broccoli into a chocolate pop tart? Because that would make life so much easier.

John A. Magee said...

I think you're forgetting one thing. Shea has Magee genes in him. Has a Magee *ever* starved when there's food around?

I wouldn't advocate dropping a steady diet of 100% brussell sprouts on the boy. But put me on the list of folks who say that if you put healthy food in front of him consistently without other options, he'll eventually eat it.

The real key is to rule out that stuff at the store. Heck, I'm not a finicky eater at all, but if I had Chocolate Pop Tarts around for breakfast, I'd eat 'em, too.

John A. Magee said...

P.S. Of course it's a battlefield. You do live in Gettysburg, you know.

Gettysburg Mom said...

See, here's the thing. I've taken away the pop tarts... but how do I convince him to TRY NEW FOODS? The reason he's down to a glass of milk for dinner is that he won't try anything different. That's my frustration... he declares it's gross/tastes weird/smells weird/looks weird and won't try it. Not even a cheese quesedilla [yeah, that's spelled wrong].

Do I give him nothing but foods he hasn't tried? Because he will live off of one whole grain english muffin a day.

Deanna said...

Oh my, I feel your pain. Kyle wasn't quite that bad, but he still hasn't eaten a piece of fruit or had any juice since he was a baby...and he's 22 now. I have no words of wisdom to share or any magical words that will help. If I did, Kyle would be eating more than cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese.

Betsy said...

Ummm, I haven't a clue. All of mine are pretty good eaters, but I think if they weren't, I'd go with the "don't have it in the house" crowd. And, I'd also advise you to NOT GIVE UP!! A few days of "milk for dinner" and maybe he'll start to get hungry. Also, maybe you could reward him for at least trying new foods? (Some might call it bribery, but I prefer yo think of it as "encouragement". ) Be creative - because it sounds like he is!!!!! :-)

City Mouse said...

PB&J? No?

You actually made a *brilliant* comment - "can i sneak broccoli into a chocolate pop tart?"

You can come damn close!

Even the sweet stuff like Jif would be better than nothing. Also - smoothies or milkshakes. More work for you, but honestly (shhh . don't let Shea hear) if nutrition is really an immediate concern, you can sneak anything you want into them. Including protein or vitamin powder.

John A. Magee said...

"... but how do I convince him to TRY NEW FOODS?"

I'm sure you've already been down this path, but maybe you need a rule that he needs to eat *some* of whatever is for dinner before he gets a crack at an alterantive.

But as long as you're serving something reasonable, I'd be inclined to set out dinner and say, "This is dinner, Shea. If you don't like it, there'll be something else for dinner tomorrow. Maybe you'll like that better." In the meantime, I guess he lives on a single English muffin a day.

That's probably a bit extreme, but from a thousand miles away it sounds to me like what's going on here is as much about a test of wills as it is about liking or not liking particular foods.

One thing I learned from having the French crew around here in the Summer is that if you give four kids their choice of meal every night, you end up cooking four individual meals every night. But they're not too stubbornly picky, so it's not too much trouble to reign them in to the meal's options.

About the only other useful suggestion I have is that maybe the two of you can look at a cookbook and you can let him pick out one new meal each week. The initial choices won't be far from the beaten path, but eventually it might inculcate the spirit of culinary experimentation.

Gettysburg Mom said...

Mouse- I guess I didn't mention I have the only child in North America that won't eat PB & J. or Fluff. I'm considering Nutella. He gets a daily vitamin, so it's not even so much a nutrition thing. It really is just a frustration with his unwillingness to try anything.

John- that's exactly where we're at. He hasn't eaten dinner in a week. I suggested looking through my cookbooks (because I am my mother's daughter, I have quite a few, plus a Cooking Light subscription) but no luck yet.

So, the question becomes this: if he's otherwise a good kid, doing well in school, is it worth it? I stopped making separate meals for him a year ago or so. I've offered some sort of bread option for the last year and if there wasn't a bread option, he was free to make himself something.

I just look at how Atlee and Greeley and other kids will at least try something new and wish he would be willing to try it.

This is karma for not eating mom's turkey loaf, isn't it?

John A. Magee said...

"This is karma for not eating mom's turkey loaf, isn't it?"

Hey, I even tried Dad's infamous SmeltBurgers(TM) and the BBQ Fish that even the dog wouldn't eat. So I guess Shea's just not going to get any sympathy from me in this thread.

Perhaps you can convince him that the advantage of trying dinner is that he'll then be able to snipe about the particulars for the next 40 years.

Or maybe you can go Old School on him: "There are starving children in Africa who would just love to have a plate full of liver and brussell sprouts, young man...."

Tracey said...

I wish I had full-proof recommendations. I have a VERY picky eater, too. But he has actually gotten slowly, SLOOOOOOWLY better as the years have gone by.

For a while, we had a chart on our pantry door. I would cook a new food that everyone was required to take a bite of, or else no video games. If you took a second bite, you got a "point" to be used for whatever they loved at the time... ANYWAY. They also got to "grade" the food. There were lots of C's, D's and F's, but, occasionally, I would find a new food that they would tolerate. For instance, they will now eat fish, if heavily breaded. And frozen canteloupe passed the test.

MANY tears. Many arguments. But a few new foods were found.

Was it worth it? I think so. I plan to reinstate this plan again as the boys want to earn money for Nintendo Ds games. wHATEVER!!

BTW, I remember that fish cake.... :)

Tracey said...

Oh, and I use the Jessica Seinfeld book. I always put sweet potato puree in my pancakes and breads now. Sweet potato and carrot purees seem to be the least noticeable. Cauliflower in mac n cheese only lasted a few times before my eldest rebelled and noticed the little chunks... oops.

Gretchen said...

Ahhh...memories!! We went through this phase with both Connor and Gabe. Since Rob's only vegetable is corn on the cob, he isn't much of a role model either. Connor is now 15 and he is next to me, right this very second, eating a poptart. **Sigh**...BUT, he did improve his eating habits around age 10 or so....with my small salad or vegetable option I instituted with dinner. But, overall, I was a young mom with Connor and failed him a bit with my lack of will power to fight at dinner. But, Gabe has been different. He was such a pain in the butt and would only eat cocoa krispies, bread, and chicken tenders. To make a long story short, just as I was ready to throw in the towel (about age 8), I taught Gabe how to cook. Now, mind you, Connor needs written instructions on how to boil water. I often wonder how he will survive when he leaves for college in two years. But, I digress. ANYWAYS, ever since I gave Gabe the ability to be involved in the cooking process, a whole new world of eating emerged. Yes, sometimes its just soup, spaghetti, ramen, but it set the stage for a change to his mind set about food. He really likes making his own English Muffin Pizzas, etc...But, my point is, that once he started helping make dinner, and I gave him credit to the family...he just started finally eating what the rest of us were eating, or at least trying it, since he did, after all, help make it. Anyways...relax...he will outgrow this...

Anonymous said...

Thinking back to my childhood - we HAD to finish all our veggies. Regardless if we hated them or not, what color they were or how many we had compared to the other siblings. So, after nights of me sitting at the table while my siblings went off to have fun I was stuck at the table, whining about broccoli or 3 brussel sprouts that were freezing cold by now and ever nastier! I've learned to eat them first.

I make a killer sweet potato mexican dish - I made it for my hubby 4 times before he realized there's no meat, just sweet potatoes! I love the idea of just sneaking veggies in! He'll never know!

I love the suggestion of introducing a new item and then grading it!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, Susan. I like a lot of the suggestions so far. Don't buy the junk. Let him have a say in planning the meals. One bite or no computer. Two bites, he gets a point. Ann all the kids get to grade the new food.

HappyHourSue said...

I always give 'em good food with bad condiments:
grilled chicken with Ranch dressing, broccoli with cheese sauce, apples with caramel dip.

It's not perfect, but it's a start.?

sheila said...

WOW! Sounds like my daughter! No mac and cheese, or cheese of any kind on any pizza and no hot dogs. No hamburgers. Geez!

I find that if I keep leftover spaghetti and sauce in the fridge (separate, can't be touching), she'll get hungry and eat.

How about making real fruit smoothies. (you could throw in some healthy fiber stuff in there)

Eggs and bagel/breakfasty stuff for dinner is always good! Kids can make a scrambled egg for themselves in the microwave and put it on toast for a sandwich.