|It's not like I'm serving this for dinner|
Errr... no, not the joy bit, thankfully it's not all pooey nappies, milk-soden tops and sleepless nights around here and I can usually find a spot of happiness in our every day meanderings, but this time the reason is WHOLLY different.
Food. Food being eaten. EATEN people! Real food, being eaten!!!!
*Does happy dance around the kitchen*
Ok, before you ring the men in white coats to cart me off to the funny farm, let me back track a bit for you. When our almost-four-year-old toddler Curly Girl was weaning age we were still living in China. Between the food scares in Shanghai at that time (and fast forward to 2013 it's still happening) the lack of health visitor advice and my own fear of the unknown (never mind my total inability to make a decision from lack of sleep), when she rejected the first few spoons of puréed veggies and fruit I assumed she wasn't ready and decided the best thing to do was to wait a while before trying again.
So we did. Until she was eight months old *ahem*.
I realise now that this was waaaaay too late. By this time she had grown a healthy fear of new tastes, flavours and textures and refused anything I tried to feed her. So after much gnashing of teeth (mine), wailing (her) and research online (me again) I moved to the baby-led weaning approach. I wrote about it and even started the for a while to share the highs and lows of our food journey together.
Since then she has gotten fussier and fussier until we got to the point where she would eat fish fingers, potato faces and chicken bites, pear, banana, yoghurt and not much else.
No sandwiches, soup, meat, vegetables, pasta with sauce, casseroles, spaghetti bolognese, rice pudding, porridge, cereal, toast.... the list could go on and on.
With pregnancy and then the arrival of Little Man to contend with I couldn't really get my head around dealing with it. Until, that is, a chance conversation with a health visitor at our local clinic when I was there weighing the baby one day. I mentioned that Curly Girl was a 'bit' fussy and explained her diet difficulties. To cut a long story short the look of shock on her face and the gentle but firm telling-off she gave me had me in tears on the way home and let me know in no uncertain terms that I was the one in charge of her diet, not Curly Girl, and it was up to me do something about it quick before she started to lose out nutritionally, if she hadn't already.
Cue more wailing and wringing of hands, this time all me.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I'd picked myself up, applied arnica to my bruised ego and resolved to tackle this fussy eating thing once and for all. If there had been a long flight of stairs to run up, and had I had any kind of energy at all, I would have legged it up them it and danced around a bit at the top, just to show how serious I was.
When Curly Girl got home from school that day I sat her down and explained slowly and carefully, but firmly that now she was a big girl she needed to eat grown-up food like Mummy and Daddy. And this would be starting now. As of tonight.
"But Mummy can I still have fish fingers and potato faces?" She asked, tears forming in her eyes.
"Sometimes." I replied "But not every night."
Cue wailing. This time from her.
From that day to this I have put in front of her the food that we are eating on most days. If we are having Chilli Con Carne one evening, then she will have it with spaghetti or penne pasta as a bolognese sauce the next day. If we're having a lamb stew, she has a portion perhaps with the addition of a tablespoon or two of tomato pasta sauce and some pasta shapes. If we're having soup and a sandwich for lunch, she does too. I make her home-made fishcakes with mashed potato and a portion of the lightly smoked salmon we have grilled the night before, coated in panko breadcrumbs and home-made breaded chicken served with tomato rice or pasta in tomato and garlic sauce.
|Our menu planner keeps me on track|
I've drawn up a meal plan on a chalkboard sticker in our kitchen and each week I list our meals for the week and work out how she is going to eat it too. As OH comes home late during the week we can only eat together at the weekends so on weekdays I usually give her what we had the day before or are going to have that night.
And CRUCIALLY however much she wails, screams, fights, or refuses to eat what's in front of her, I have not given in and cooked her something else. If she doesn't eat what's in front of her she goes hungry.
I AM MOTHER, HEAR ME ROOOAR!
In all seriousness I've had to walk out of the room countless times to shed the tears that are welling up in my eyes out of her sight. I've hated seeing her so upset and I have to quash the almost overwhelming force inside me that compells me to get her to eat something, anything at all. I have had to stay strong. She's refused to eat, had tantrums and been on the naughty step, tried to hit me (wow, where did that come from?!), cried buckets of tears and told me she hates food.
But you know what? It has finally started to work.
I can hardly believe it. Little by little she has tried a spoonful here or there. And I've praised her to the high heavens when she has. Each and every time it has been accompanied by a forceful 'yuk!' but at least she's had a go. And a spoonful of peas at every meal has given her the first regular green vegetables of her life.
So far this week she has had porridge or cereal for breakfast every day (without a fight people!), a chorizo, cheese and carrot omelette with tomato rice and peas on Monday, home-made salmon and potato fishcakes on Tuesday and Wednesday, Penne Bolognese on Thursday and as a special treat for eating almost all of her packed lunch at school every day this week, she will have fish fingers today.
We're not quite at the broccoli or courgette stage yet and a roast dinner still gets left almost completely uneaten but we're SO much further forward that we're in another country from her previous diet.
And as of this week, and five months and one week, . Next week pureed veggies, then fruit and finally everything we're having mushed up. I will not go down that road again.
So let me just say this. If you're struggling with a fussy eater, gird your loins and take charge. If I can do it, ANYONE can.
Image courtesy of Fotolia