Frankly Listening To Your Fussy Eaters

This is Eve.

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She is the pickiest eater I have.  She is also the smallest; and not just because she eats about a third of what her younger sister eats, but she was the smallest at birth as well.  The largest was 10.6lbs, and little Eve came in at a paltry 8.0lbs.  She wasn’t a big nurser, and we had to start her on solids early just to get her weight up.  4 out of 5 of my kids have been in the 90-110% percentile on the growth charts.  Eve has come up from 12% to 40% over time, which is great!  That was such a relief when she finally started gaining weight.

Despite her little frame, she holds the biggest personality, the most fire and more opinions than any of the kids.

 

This is absolutely my favorite Adam Levine song.

She knows exactly what she wants to listen to (I keep finding her listening to Adam Levine/Maroon5 when she is alone, which is awesome taste in music ), what she will wear (either Chinese silk, or soft cotton shirts), and she loves her bling.  Which is weird.  I am not a bling person, Ben isn’t a bling person, none of the other kids even know what bling is…but she knows.

There was one time I took her and Nova to get their hair cut.  While Nova was in the chair, I gave Eve a magazine on the table to flip through.  It was a wedding magazine, and I wasn’t entirely interested.  I sewed my own bridal gown and crafted my own headpiece and veil, because that’s how I roll.  I don’t like the styles of wedding dresses out there: so much thick, bumpy lace and beads everywhere, and sleeveless…blech.

Eve, on the other hand, loved the magazine.

She turned to a page with a gigantic wedding ring with a ginormous diamond, and stuck her hand out and very dramatically said, “That ring goes on my finger!”

She was 3 at the time.  No one else in our family has ever looked twice at jewelry.  I didn’t even know she knew what this stuff was…

But she knows.  She knows exactly what she likes, and she will tell you exactly why.

 

Which brings us to food.

The other day for lunch I made wagon wheel pasta salad.  We love pasta salad over here (here is my gf version!), so the kids were super excited!

Well, 4 out of 5 kids were super excited.

Eve ate the apple sausage and tomatoes, but kept poking the pasta.  I told her she could bring her plate to my desk and eat if she wanted (dude, whatever… if it means she will eat, it’s fine with me).

But as she was sitting there, she was talking about what was going on in her thoughts.  This is when it got really interesting.

 

I was just letting her talk, and after listening to her for a few minutes, suddenly I was able to understand what was going on with her aversion to the pasta!

(Unfortunately, I kept running out of space on my phone and it would stop recording…so you are getting this in 2 segments)

 

The squishy pasta texture reminded her of the squishy starfish texture we saw in the tide pools when we went to Monterey Bay, and that grossed her out!

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Some Moms can get bent out of shape about food, and I completely understand this.

There have been more than a few times when I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen getting an amazing, nutritious meal ready for everybody…only to find out that everyone has filled up on chips while I was cooking, and not hungry by the time we sat down to eat.

BURN.

Or if some people like one food one day, and hate it the next (this is a reality).

Or if people are going through a growth spurt, and aren’t hungry for days.

Or if they don’t like the food I am making, and spend an hour pushing around their plate.

 

Dinner with kids is not as simple as reheating a microwave dinner on high for 2:35minutes.  I really want my family to have good, nutritous food that will help them grow and learn, and I want them to be familiar with different foods as well as familiar foods.  Sometimes this means eating chickpeas or bok choy, or split pea soup or duck.  I remember when we were in Beijing I needed to have one jar of peanut butter (that cost like, $20 in the expats store) because although Conrad, who was 1 at the time, was cool with the food we were giving him…after a while he wouldn’t eat one more thing with soy sauce or chilis, and I could get him to eat peanut butter sandwiches.  This is a completely reasonable solution.

 

But they are still kids, and sometimes they just don’t like things.  Even if they are starving.

This makes them cranky, which can make you cranky, which makes the situation cranky.

 

I know these times can happen, because that’s just life.  However, it isn’t something that should be happening all the time.  This is a pattern of which you should take notice…it usually isn’t just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

If your kid won’t eat what you give them, or is upset with the food, or dreads mealtimes…chances are, something else is going on.

They could be dehydrated, they could be growing, they could have a cold…or they could have Celiac or be lactose intolerant.

Or they could be reminded of the squishy starfish she was poking at the beach.

The best thing is to be quiet and let them talk, and tell you what is on their minds with an open heart.  Chances are, this is something about them, and isn’t about you or your cooking at all.   The nice thing is that after these moments, your relationship with them will be closer and more accessible, and you will be able to love them in more personal and real ways.

And that’s what every Mom wants…it is definitely what I want, more than all the bling in the world  🙂

IMG_1474Lunch: Orange tea with Apple/Salami/Cheddar Garden Salad.  Success!!

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