Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meat and Potatoes to Vegitarian {Savory Saturday}

I took quite a bit of flack over at Mamapedia when I posted over there about fixing our picky eater. Several of the commenter's told me I was wrong, and cruel and basically that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks that picky eaters were born and I should stop trying to change my daughter.

I want to address that with a big fat, Nope, uh-uh and sorry charlie but you actually can teach an old dog new tricks.

For one I am a reformed picky eater. I did not eat a fresh strawberry, a stalk of asparagus or spinach in any form until I was well into my twenties and met my husband. Kale (ad all cooked greens really) have been repulsive to me for years. Now? Spinach has for the last few years been one of my favorite veggies. Since starting this challenge I have a new found love for kale and collard greens. Sometimes the root of picky-ness is actually in how things are prepared. I still don’t care for cabbage but have had it in several recipes where it wasn’t bad. There is now just about  nothing that I won't at least try. When as a child I wouldn't even eat white rice.

Example two: My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. His motto is anything can be made better with bacon or pork. After our second week of detox we decided to throw the kids a bone and make them macaroni and cheese and a ham steak. He ate leftover spicy vegetable curry. In fact he has become obsessed with curry. After that night he said to me, "you know what I think I could do this vegetarian thing, not all the time but a lot of the time". Since then we have been having two vegetarian meals a week.

My meat and potatoes husband is enjoying being a vegetarian. He has learned to enjoy meals where meat is not the focus after 35 years of loving meat. If he can change, so can I, so can my daughter so can anyone*.

So how’s my picky eater doing? She is doing really well. She may not like everything but she will at least try everything we give her and we rarely, if ever have tears at dinner anymore. In fact the only fight we have had over dinner in the last month has really come out of exhaustion on all our parts and not entirely from a fight over food.

So stick with it parents! My family, me, my daughter and my meat and potatoes husband are proof that you can change your families eating habits.

Here are a few of my tips for what has worked for us:

  1. Before you start commit to one month where you will not (WILL NOT) make any of the go to foods, for us it was macaroni and cheese. We made sure there was none in the house so we wouldn't be tempted to give up  and we planned our meals accordingly. 
  2. Have at least two predictable nights where they know they will like the food. We do pizza on Saturday and chili on Sunday both nights she loves what she gets. 
  3. If possible modify. When recipes are hot and spicy we will generally leave the hot seasoning out until the end and pull out some for the kids and add more to ours. We don’t leave them without seasoning we just make it milder. Sometimes we will make an additional frozen vegetable if the only vegetable is say cabbage, which we know is hard for anyone other than my husband to get down. 
  4. Be consistent and don’t give in or fight. We had been fighting this battle for years. YEARS.  and nothing changed until we (the parents did). We no longer got angry at the table, we did not beg, plead or bribe. We simply sated this is dinner, one bite of each is required or you can go to bed. End of story. It was the same every night no matter what. Sometimes that meant that my husband or myself would have to walk away from the table and cool down but the table because a peaceful no fighting zone. 
  5. Know that you are not going to scar them or ruin them by sending them to bed hungry. They will wake up and if they are under 4 have little to no memory of the day. They wake up ready to go, a new day a new slate. Don’t bring your frustration or anger form the previous meal to today's meal. 
  6. Work on one meal at a time. We only do dinner breakfast and lunch is always (ALWAYS) her choice. 
Making family meals fun and nutritional for everyone is work, but we are almost sixth months into our journey and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience and we are all enjoying dinner time much more. 

Come back tomorrow and I will share with you are {new} favorite vegetarian dishes!

*I am referring to children and people who do not have allergies or special needs in case that's not clear (which apparently at Mamapedia it wasn't) I would never force a child who had physically or mental difficulties or allergies to foods to eat things that are clearly upsetting them. My daughter does not have these issues she is just stubborn, like her mama. 


Whitney Smith said...

I can't believe that people were saying that you were mean or wrong by not giving up on trying to get your daughter to eat veggies. I think it's wrong not to try (since they are so important for the kids)!! When I was growing up, I had to eat whatever my parents were serving and sometimes had to eat it the next day when I refused it for dinner - the funny thing is most of that food I actually enjoy as an adult. My three year old does not want to eat any green veggies and also doesn't like a lot of meats, so I have recently resorted to hiding veggie purees in stuff she likes to eat (meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, etc) and we are also now making her have a spoonful or two of whatever meat or green veggie we have with dinner. After about a week or so, she's actually complaining a lot less and cooperating more when it comes to trying out different foods. BTW, I have an awesome homemade mac'n'cheese recipe that you might want to try (the last time I made it, I used quinoa pasta instead of regular macaroni and added some leftover ham cubes we had)...everyone loves it!!

Hyacynth said...

I love so much of what you say here. It is really hard to help a picky eater change his or her ways. Consistency is key. We've been trying to make things E likes but healthier, so it's a win-win. {At least that's the plan until he can, you know, talk in sentences, then we'll likely adapt more of the harder stance on dinner philosophy.}. But! So far, he's eaten rainbow chard meatloaf, spinach macaroni and kale, flax, brussel sprout oatmeal. {No sugar in any of it!} So that's a huge victory in our house right. I'm glad for your encouragement to keep it at.

Lucy The Valiant said...

I totally agree with you! And it isn't cruel at all. I always have to remind myself that my picky two year old isn't going to let herself starve. She has to try one bite, and then at least sit nicely with the rest of us at the table for the rest of the meal if she doesn't choose to eat anymore. Whether or not she eats is really up to her!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your tips and experiences with picky eating. I have been catering to my 4 year old son for 2 years now and I am ready to try something different and see if it will "cure" his picky eating.
Keep up the great work!