My Children Will Only Eat PB & J


Paichka

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This was my three year old over a month ago. Today (so far), she's eaten asparagus, salmon, kale, spinach, sweet potato, burger and of course, fruit. Yes, you read that right. She eats spinach now.

 

I put her on a Whole30 with me, starting mid-January. I told my husband, as she was sitting over a McDonald's happy meal, literally laying her face in the bbq sauce, that enough was enough. I am fed up with eating paleo and watching my child get fed garbage like this. I told him that she and I were doing a Whole30 together, starting the next morning. He said fine, as long as I did all the cooking. He is the opposite of paleo.

 

The first week, she didn't like me. She wept about McDonald's every day. She recited what she'd order over and over again. When we were in the car, she'd force herself to stay awake to beg for McD's when we drove by it. She refused to eat any meal but lunch (and at lunch, she would try to get away with not touching her vegetables). But, I made a couple of additional rules to the Whole30, and I announced them before every meal and every time she tried to get in the refrigerator.

 

My rules were:
1) No eating between meals. Seriously, no snacking at all - not even fruit. Yes, there was a whole bunch of sobbing in front of the refrigerator the first week or more. And yes, there were a couple of early mornings because of this, but that stopped after a couple days.
2) Everything on the plate has to be tasted in order for her to have fruit (or sweet potato, etc... - she wants to just eat carb-y foods all the time). At first, this was a simple taste (one bite), but once she said she liked something or took more than one bite, I started telling her x-amount of bites (we're up to 10-15 on many foods now). 

and 3) She eats what I eat. I don't make special meals for anyone. Even my husband sometimes whines about this, but if you don't like it, cook for yourself.

 

It was a HARD first week. My daughter is extremely headstrong, and fought me so much the first week.This little girl had day 5 rage from the beginning through probably day 8 or so. One day 7, we met with a playgroup who were all feeding their kids doughnuts. My daughter at egg muffins (Whole30 ingredients, not so much in spirit). Part of this Whole30 was also a lesson in her not taking other's food. She used to be awful at that. She doesn't do it at all anymore.

 

Two nights ago, my husband took her to McDonald's for the first time since the start of the Whole30. He got her the same meal she wept over the first week of it, and guess what, she took one bite of a chicken nugget, and then asked for the apples. When she came home, she opened the refrigerator and asked for an orange, cauliflower soup, and a can of tuna. 

 

It is really hard work - at first - but if the adults in the kid's life can all be on board, it can be done. No snacking helps so much. Hunger makes us willing to try a lot of new foods. Also, kids do need to try foods many, many times to know if they like it or not. Between age 2-5 their tastes are literally forming. That's the age you want to work so hard to get them open to as many foods as possible. I don't ever fight my daughter, but I also am firm. If she won't try something, well, she can't have any of the blueberries she knows I planned on serving. That's the rule, and it applies to everyone at the table. We try food together, even dropping table manners to be silly when we eat (kale chips the way dinosaurs would eat them always mean everything gets eaten). 99% of the time, she'll drop the tears and just try it. I don't get mad or frustrated, it is what it is. Her choice. She will not starve herself to death and I do offer her at least one food I know she likes at each meal (usually the fruit). I also learned that when they go without snacking, kids actually can put down well-rounded meals. I feel like my child is nourished now, not just fed. 

 

I also don't paleo-ify kids foods anymore, usually. I make grown up meals and expect her to eat them. I don't really understand where "kid foods" even came from when adults are the ones in charge of feeding kids. That's probably some marketing ploy we all bought into in the 80's or something...? ;-) 

 

It's hard work, but like all things, it gets easier with enough reinforcement.

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The kid's meal has been around because Emmett Holt decided that kids needed bland food in the 1800s; it was adopted by society in the Prohibition era to make up for the lost money due to the no boozing allowed.

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/08/children_s_menu_history_how_prohibition_and_emmett_holt_gave_rise_to_kid.html

 

Basically, he decided that kids shouldn't eat the rich foods their parents were (think: marrow dumplings, etc.) and should just have bland fare. Somehow, this was supposed to make kids happier/healthier/who knows. Instead, it just ruined their palates.

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