When Miss now Five turned two she went from being a fabulous eater that astounded everyone with her varied diet and interesting tastes, to a stubborn, infuriating food refuser. Some days she ate little more than a handful of sultanas. What she ate one day the next would be pushed ceremoniously away with an upturned nose the next. Sticker charts worked once, and then each night’s dinner was again refused with an “I don’t want a sticker tonight!” And so I began a two and a half year long battle to win the war on food with her. I trawled websites, cook books and the local library in a desperate attempt to find recipes and meal ideas that would be so tempting she just couldn’t refuse them…. while, of course, still being healthy. We tried growing and picking food together, cooking together, letting her dish herself up, in short we tried everything we could think of. It was exhausting, frustrating and generally fruitless. About six months ago something changed. I don’t think it was anything I did, I just think she was more hungry so dinner had greater appeal. Kinder might have something to do with that. Now meal times with Miss Five are often a pleasant experience, she regularly asks for seconds, and independently polishes off a bowl of whatever it is I’ve dished up. I won’t say she’s perfect, we still struggle to get her to eat vegetables on their own (she’s a committed carnivore!) and soup still gets the upturned nose attitude, but it’s a huge improvement.
However, I am quite horrified to admit that Miss Three, whom I could always count on to eat well and with gusto, has become a total mealtime terrorist. She enjoys nothing more than bringing the family to our knees trying to deal with her antics. The once totally independent eater now requires feeding with a spoon (considering I am an advocate of baby led weaning from six months this is something I’ve never really done before). The humouring and cajoling for every mouthful drives me crazy and what’s worse is her habit of flicking her head away or clamping her mouth shut just as the spoon is about to go in, resulting in food in hair, on face, down the front of her clothes, on the table, chair and floor. ARGH!!!!! Mr Good and I are at our wit’s end and are confused about what our next strategic move in this war should be.
My thought is to ignore the antics (rather than doing the whole counting, naughty corner, early bed punishments we’ve tried in vain), offer food that can easily be eaten with her hands and again hopefully finding some meals that are appealing enough she just eats them without all the fuss. And if they are refused then she may well go hungry (is that too cruel?). I made these Salmon Picklets last week which were my one food win for the week (aside from the take away pizza that made up Saturday night’s meal). I picked these for several reasons. Firstly, both the girls love seafood. Secondly, I could make them small and easy to eat with their hands. Thirdly, I could smuggle in a little of the silverbeet that grows in my gardens. And lastly they looked tasty enough for everyone to enjoy…. and they were. Instead of the green beans, I served them with broccoli which remains one of the few things Miss Three will still reliably eat. Her other favourite foods are mushrooms and pasta.
So with this all in mind, I am on the hunt for healthy, delicious, food-to-eat-with-your-hands to try and tame the wild creature that emerges at mealtime. Suggestions welcome…… PLEASE!!!