Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to Become a Picky Eater

My three-year-old, Wyatt, survives on a consistent diet of Cheerios, cheese, milk, bananas, apples, scrambled eggs, carrots and peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches.

Apart from those foods, daily meal-time is a that I refuse to engage in. This mama's policy is that she is not a short order cook. If you don't want to eat what I fixed, that's fine, but you must take one bite. And if you still don't want it, you must keep us company at the table while we eat and just wait until the next meal for something "better."

I firmly stick to this hard line. And yet, with each children's magazine harping on a child's need for a certain amount of protein, fruits, and veges, I feel the strain of guilt, worrying whether this is just a defiant toddler phase or a life-sentence of being the mom of a picky eater.

I'm still scratching my head over what happened to my good-eater. The first two years of his life, Wyatt ate everything except melon and baby food sweet peas (which I could hardly criticize after I smelled them). With two gardens supplying bushels full of vegetables, he ate a well-balanced diet. Lettuce, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, squash, peas--you name it, he ate it.

But for the past year, I wake each morning with no inkling of what foods he will accept / reject that day. The chicken soup he ate two bowls of last night is suddenly "not good." The shrimp he's stolen from everybody's plates for the last year are now impossible to get past his clamped-closed lips. Ketchup? Not ever. Broccoli? "Yeuch!" Beans? "I no like them." Mushrooms? Don't bother.

Since mommy's food is magical, I let him eat from my plate way too often in an attempt to simply get him to eat something healthy. I've also tried getting him involved by helping me cook the meals.

This past Christmas, my mother in law gifted me with a hand-crank pasta maker. Last Friday, I mixed up a spinach dough to make fettuccine. Although the hand-cranking grew old pretty fast, Wyatt did help. That evening, he jumped up and down with pride as he told daddy about "his" pasta.After a couple hours of me hand-cranking beautiful strings of fettuccine, peeling shrimp, and getting a little help from Mr. Ragu and his garlic Alfredo sauce--the house smelled wonderful. But come meal-time? "I don't like sauce!!!" And so he didn't eat supper again. My sigh was a bit more weary than normal.

But my 14-month-old twins consumed every spoonful. Every time they excitedly opened little bird mouths for another taste, I wondered how soon before they, too, would be going on strike against a mile-long list of foods.

As I watched each little energetic bite, I remembered a few Biblical comparisons of Christians to babies. In one passage, Peter admonishes, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2).

Evidently, these Christians were excited about the "milk of the word" at first, but that excitement to know the Scripture, to know Christ, to consume His word, diminished with time.

I wonder if they became picky eaters, too, only wanting to read the Scriptures they agreed with or understood without a brain ache. Whatever the case, Peter reminded them to return to their initial, excited desire for the Word so they would grow in Christ.

I understand God's warning to me. It's all too easy to lose my excitement for the "real food" of God's Word. It's all too easy to become a picky spiritual eater...just as picky as Wyatt.

Photos: Wyatt choking on his "one" bite of broccoli and my spinach pasta in progress.

1 comment:

  1. Oh the ever changing eating habits of children. I've tried not to worry about Sophie's up and down appetite and remember that she will eat when she is hungry.

    I'll have to admit, though, that the structured mealtimes that we adhered to before she was born are a distant blur. Sigh.

    I think it's great that you make him take at least one bite. I try to do that. But not consistently.

    Your Biblical comparison hits home as well.

    Good food for thought.