Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Dinner Options: Take It or Leave It

It's hilarious now to think about how I expected to be exempt from the picky eating stage. Because I made the majority of my sweet daughter's baby food from scratch I really thought my blood, sweat and tears would magically give me some sort of pass on this phase. I thought wrong. She used to love spinach, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. And squash! Oh how she loved fresh squash. What happened? Now, she loves mac and cheese. She used to clap and cheer for fresh pineapple and oatmeal. Now she's learned she can be picky, and I think she senses refusing certain things gives her some sort of power. As if she needs more of that.

I want my child to be happy and healthy so I often find myself at a crossroads when she refuses to eat the dinners I've so lovingly prepared. I've tried the save-her-dinner-for-later tactic when she asks for a snack. But she'll still refuse it and will continue to let me know she's hungry. What kind of mother would I be to allow her to go to bed hungry?

I exaggerate when I say she only wants mac and cheese, but it's definitely a favorite. I don't expect her to have a mature palate at two and a half, but I do expect her to eat what's in front of her or at least try it. I try to be calm, but honestly I find it very frustrating. I definitely keep her in mind while meal planning and always have at least something I know she likes, but if it's not what she wants she'll pass. I don't want to end up preparing something completely different or caving and allowing her to eat dry cereal.

I feel like I'm in a lose-lose situation. I want her to go to bed on a full stomach, but I don't want to set the stage for her to think she can always manipulate the situation to get what she wants. So I'm asking for help, friends. Please share with me any tricks, tips or advice for having a successful, mac and cheese-free dinnertime with a toddler. I'm all ears.


  1. I have been doing some homemade pizza (store bought fresh pizza dough) and using Ragu chunky garden style with all the veggies in it for the pizza sauce. I serve that gourmet dish with corn or broccoli.
    I have also been successful on occasion serving "fish sticks" - tilapia breaded and baked then cut up into shapes or squares. It's easier to cut then bread so the breading won't come off after it's cooked.
    I've also tried quinoa (for the complete protein); Cook it with some onions and garlic and I add sharp cheese and told my kids it was rice. Emma ate it but Connor gagged.
    But I usually serve Mac n cheese at least twice a week because I know they will eat it. (I get whole wheat pasta and either use velveeta 2% cheese - I know it's horrible but the kids love it) or make my own homemade which takes longer. Lately when I make mac n cheese I cook broccoli and chop it up and mix it in with the M n C so they can't help but eat some broccoli since it's stuck to the mac.
    Lastly, I've served "eggie circles" (hard boiled eggs cut up) with carrots and dip and a piece of toast and called that dinner.
    It's really trying sometimes because I really only have time to make one dinner for all of us so Jay and I are eating toddler food many a night.
    Hope this helps - Hugs to you!

  2. Maggie, thanks so much! These are great options! I've made homemade pizza, but I've never tried the chunky garden style sauce. I LOVE the idea about cutting fish into shapes. I will definitely try this with fish and anything else I can think of! I also usually serve broccoli on the side, but I haven't been smart enough to mix it in. Great idea!! Thanks!

    It's funny how you talk about you and Jay eating toddler food. Laddy and I just had this same discussion. You're right. There's just not enough time to plan, shop for and prepare multiple choices each night.

    Ahhh, I'm grateful we're not alone, and I'll definitely be giving all of these options a try! Thanks again!! :):)

  3. I did everything I was supposed to as a first time mom to get my darling child to be a healthy eater. I breastfed until he weaned himself at 11 months, I made my own food, I did all the sneak the veggie tricks into food, I even put spinch in brownies! Each time he would eat something that had some vegtable in it I would be extremely happy and content, feeling as if I conqured the world only to be let down the next time I served it with his little toddler hands pushing it away as if I was trying to posion him!!! Hopefully it will not be that bad for you, but I just wanted you to know that by the time my other two kids came I was practically in the "ketchup is a vegatable cult!" My younger two LOVE anything green, yellow, puple and every other color in the rainbow!! They would choose carrots or salad over ice cream. My first peditrcian gave me some of the best advice I have ever been given. It is my job to serve three nutrious meals and snacks a day, it is their job to eat it or not. Good luck!!! My thoughts are with you!!!

  4. Great blog (comments on FB, of course!). I'll be reading for suggestions, as well ... Luli is a terribly picky eater, too!

  5. Amy, I found with mine that if I let them help me pick out the veggies/fruits and then let them help me prepare it they are more likely to try it and usually finish it. Try pureeing fruits and making freezy pops with them. And juicing veggies/fruits together and giving her the juice is also good. Try different items together until you find something she likes. Adding apples will give it sweetness.

    Both the girls love salads/veggis but Micah is a whole different ballgame. I'm with Kathy above on Ketchup being a veggie. Occasionally I can get a salad (consisting of lettuce, cucumbers and shredded cheese lol) down him and he loves carrot sticks. But other than that, he is a sweet-a-holic. Thanks to my dear mother, God rest her soul. He was her last grandchild and was giving (out of my sight mind you) anything he asked for in the 'sweets' section so therefore he got a taste for chocolate early on. Gaaahhhh. And I also was worried that he was hungry and his pediatrician assured me that he would eat when he got hungry. So, rest assured my dear cuz, she will pull out of this stage of independence. Love and prayers!

  6. Hi, Kathy. I love this quote from you: "It is my job to serve three nutrious meals and snacks a day, it is their job to eat it or not." I plan to make this my new mantra! :) I appreciate your comment and wise advice!! :)

    Rob, good luck with Luli. I hope you've gotten some good advice here too. I plan to try lots of these suggestions! :) Good vibes for Oz being a better eater than our girls. He is such a cutie by the way!!

    Cindy, thanks for your comment. I really need to do more juicing, and I suppose I need to bite the bullet and give ketchup and ranch dressing a try. :) Thanks again! I appreciate it!!

  7. It's okay sister! I've seen what you allow Ellie to have as snacks and I have no doubt my beautiful niece is getting proper nutrition. Remember, "This too shall pass."