This was a meal my second son ate for lunch last week, half one day, and half the next. Those are lean ground turkey asian-flavour meatballs with peaches and cream frozen corn and raw carrots. This is a very big deal, and let me tell you why.
Right around the age of 2 he became very picky, and about this time a year ago I was despairing about kindergarten snacks for the coming fall. The only thing my son thought was an acceptable lunch was a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of apple juice. The only acceptable snack was some variation of the same. Because I gave him a bit of a granny smith apple once, he'd decided he didn't like apples anymore, which meant fruit was off the menu. He ate very limited vegetables, and drank water only when he was playing soccer.
I kept offering healthy old and new foods. One time I was even desperate enough to cut his apples into heart shapes while I reminded him that he liked red apples, not green ones, and he gave apples a second chance. Somewhere along the way I came up with a phrase that somehow made him more likely to try anything: "You don't have to like it".
Over the last year it's been a constant upward trend. Sure, there are foods he used to love that he no longer will touch, such as vanilla yogurt and roasted potatoes. On the other hand, last night he tried a bite of steak. He didn't like it, and my response was "that's ok, maybe next time". I didn't force him to try it, but I think in getting permission not to have to enjoy it makes him braver.
He eats what we eat. There's always something on the menu that he likes, so he never feels left out of dinner. Whether it's raw carrots, apple slices, whole grain bread, actifry potato strips (we call them fries), chicken, fish, ham, or soup, he will find something he enjoys eating with the rest of us. If he wants seconds, he gets them. And if he doesn't, that's ok too. I have never wanted food to become a battle with the kids, because I know what kind of future challenges ensue between food and body image.
I'm teaching the boys why we eat the way we eat. They are learning about food energy, exercise, proper nutrition, and healthy bodies. They know about the different vitamins and minerals found in different kinds of foods. They are learning that different colours in food mean different benefits, and that a balanced meal consists of several food groups.
There are so many strategies employed when dealing with picky children. Most of the kids I know are picky at one time or another, and some of them grow up to be picky adults too. My goal is to raise the boys to appreciate and enjoy good and healthy food, and to not be scared to try something new.
I found this interesting article about different mistakes we as parents tend to make when dealing with children and food. It's worth the read, and I know I've been guilty from time to time of making some of these mistakes.
Enjoy your weekend, friends!