Last week a mother said to me, “I am not going to feed my second daughter all the specific foods, she can eat what she likes. I did that with my first child and she’s now a nightmare, she won’t eat this, she won’t eat that. Forget it, she’s too fussy!”
After discussing with this mother that maybe the issue was more a personality issue rather than a diet issue, rightfully so – she seemed a little dazed.
I shared with her that for 18months there was not a day that passed where Simon or I did not have to muster up our intestinal fortitude (inner strength) to get Nelson to eat what we had prepared for him. While food hasn’t seemed to have ever been an issue with the other two boys, there was a definite stage where Nelson just seemed to be contrary about meals.
One evening he stood in the corner (using the “stand-to-decide” technique) for 45 minutes, yelling every so often “I’m not going to eat dinner!” It wasn’t until his brother started to watch a DVD in another room did Nelson came back to the table and proceed to eat everything on his plate in a matter of minutes. He stopped at one point and said “this is delicious Mum.”
If there is one parenting skill I’m particularly proud of, it is sticking to my guns on what the boys eat. Not only does it make our life so much easier now that they literally eat everything that is placed in front of them, but they are willing eaters whether we are simply eating at home, at a restaurant or a friend’s place.
Now you may think, ‘well that’s because they are boys, they just love food’.I now have ample experience with many other boys to know this is not the case. There are just as many boys who will only eat white bread, cheese, pasta, yoghurt and chips as there are girls. Food is not the issue.
You wouldn’t let your two year decide to wear only a light party dress on a freezing cold day because as a parent you know the health benefits of rugging your children up warm in winter. Nor would any of us let them become deliriously tired – allowing them to decide when they should sleep and when they shouldn’t.
Sleep is an important foundation for good health. Neither should we let them decide which foods they eat and those that they won’t.
As parents we establish the food culture of our children, they watch and learn from us. We set the guidelines, we instill the knowledge.
Having one very ‘head strong’ boy, I empathise with all parents struggling with food issues. Take heart in knowing though, that the battles can be won. Do your research on which foods are best, this way you will feel passionate about the new food culture you are trying to create for your family. When you’ve read enough about the chemical crap that is hidden in most foods, you too will rise to the challenge. There are so many health benefits for children through good nutrition.
Through reading you will develop a deep parental yearning to build constitutional health that is stronger in conviction, than any child’s temper tantrum. Be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day either.
You will soon hear yourself explaining the importance of wholesome foods. You’ll say these things over and over, then one day to your surprise you’ll overhear your four old telling their friend “you know that bread’s gonna turn to glue in your tummy and give you a tummy ache! Yep, that bread right there, that’s gonna hurt ya tummy” Oh the wisdom of youth!!
Let’s face it, there’s enough hidden white flour (intestinal cement) in many of our foods without giving our children white bread sandwiches.
So good luck with this, and may the force be with you!