So, I am writing more for advice than anything else but I have the most difficult toddler when it comes to eating. We never had a problem until about three months ago when he decided to become EXTREMELY picky. I have studied nutrition and I know the importance of it, especially in a growing child. He needs calcium for his bones, protein for building his little muscles and carbs and fat to help his brain, heart and lungs function properly. He mostly snacks all day on fruit. Fruit is great! I love fruit, but it shouldn’t be the only food group you consume. He has never turned down strawberries, raspberries (his absolute favorite!), blueberries, pineapple, bananas, oranges, apples or grapes. He could consume a whole container of raisins if I let him, but if I try to get him to eat a peanut butter sandwich, grilled cheese, macaroni, chicken, spaghetti or even pizza he just looks at me, shakes his head and screams NO, NO, NO.
I am worried he is not only lacking in the major food groups but he might become deficient in either vitamins or minerals. There are four fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E & K) that are found in a lot of foods he won’t touch. I am pleased that he still drinks whole milk and will occasionally eat yogurt or eggs but it’s hit or miss. I love that he will actually eat vegetables (sporadically) and find it humorous that when I do make mac n’ cheese or pasta and try to hide the broccoli in it, that he will pick out the broccoli and eat that but not touch the rest of the meal. I try to lead by example and eat what he is eating, hoping some “peer pressure” will do the trick but to no avail.
I know this is a phase. I am certain that he is unquestionably not the first, nor will be the last, toddler to refuse food and insert his independence. I have to learn to be more patient with him because the more I push, the less likely he is to do what I wish. Something that is brilliant, I wish I had invented them, are those fruit and veggie pouches. Plum organics and Ella’s kitchen make them along with Gerber and Earth’s Best. They are loaded with fruit, veggies and wholesome ingredients. Whenever my son asks for “snack”, I give him one of those. At least I know he is getting some nutrition. The situation wouldn’t be so horrible if I didn’t know how important it was for his growth and development to eat properly. I wanted to share my story in hopes that I am not alone and to possibly relieve another mother out there who might be suffering through the same venture.
What does amaze me about children is the capabilities to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. I wish I had that will power sometimes. I grew up with the notion of “finish your plate” before you leave the table. And of course there is always the old adage “there are starving children in Africa”. I do think in a way it has led me to a rather unhealthy view of food. I for one will never force my child to finish his plate but I will encourage healthy eating and to at least try something before you dismiss it. I can only hope that my child will grow up appreciating the vast abundance of options he does and learn how fortunate he is that his parents care so much about every aspect of his life. After all, I only want what’s best for him, I’m sure you can relate.
(photo credit here)