Friday, December 4, 2015

The Picky Eater

Do you have a picky eater at your house? I did. I remember being very worried about him. When he was a toddler he seemed to not be interested in eating much. I'd offer him food and he'd play around and put just  little of it in his mouth. I was certain he was going to get sick or worse, shrivel to a size that would make him look like he should be on a poster with the words, "Send your dollars here."

Then in a timely moment I read an article by a renowned pediatrician at the time, Dr. William Sears, who wrote that if all your toddler eats is a hard boiled egg, a piece of bread, a little juice, and a multi-vitamin every day he will survive.

What a relief! I could at least get that much in him! And he was right - Ben did survive childhood and entered the middle school years with the typical bottomless pit for a stomach.

So, after raising four children with various appetites, allergies, sensitivities, etc. I've learned a few things and would like to pass on some dos and don'ts concerning children and food.

DO NOT become a restaurant by taking orders and making special food for your picky eater. Your child should be offered what everyone else is eating (unless he's allergic to it, of course). If he refuses to eat it, he does not get dessert. He sits at the table quietly until everyone is done and if he hasn't eaten enough, put his food in the refrigerator and when he is hungry later THAT is what he can eat.

DO introduce your young children to a variety of vegetables, fruits and meats. The wider the palette the less of a complainer you'll have.

DO make meal times pleasant times. There should be lively conversation with the whole family. Children who eat alone of course will act up and refuse to eat. They want to get down and be with the rest of the family! I've said it before and I'll say it again... dinner absolutely should be sacred family time!

DO be creative with your food! You can totally make sandwiches into faces by placing carrots on top of bologna  as a mouth, cherries for eyes, chips for hair. Pretend to be giants eating trees when there is broccoli on the plate!

DO NOT use food as punishment. Never say a child can eat or not eat when they've misbehaved. Time outs are way more effective. However, keeping desserts from children is an okay punishment and granting desserts to well behaved, obedient children who have eaten most of their dinner, is fine.

DO NOT expect your children to lick their plates clean. I personally do not think children should have to eat everything on their plate. I do think they can be taught to only take what they think they can eat, and to be encouraged to not waste food. Children should always take a "no thank you" bite of food they think they won't like. Often they discover they like it! And if they don't, they don't have to finish but they should simply and politely say they don't like it but thank you for offering.

DO NOT put up with complaints. Under no circumstances should children complain. If they complain freely to you then they will complain to grandparents, friends, teachers, restaurants, etc. Instead, aim to raise children with hearts of gratitude. And a big strategy for getting there is to say grace, a prayer to the Heavenly Father, who gives us many blessings including good food and good health.

Lastly, I would suggest including your children in food preparation. You can tell them what each ingredient does. They can chop vegetables, mix dough, place food on platters, etc. We always had a garden and the kids enjoyed pulling beets, digging potatoes, picking peas, etc. And when they were old enough they loved having their own corner of the garden to plant. Have fun!

And now for a refashion...

I hung on to another puffy sleeved dress from the early nineties that my mother had sewn for me. But twenty five years is a long time to hang on to a dress that's been out of style for a decade or two.

A refashion is in order!  I decided to cut off the bottom and make a skirt.

I folded down the waist to make a waistband, pinned it and sewed it right up. I had removed the zipper added 2 snaps for closure. I shortened the hem slightly.

And here's the finished look. Done in one morning before I left for work.