05 September 2012

Picky Eating

This week, as part of the online book club From Left to Write, the members read the incredibly moving book January First by Michael Schofield.  As we usually do for the book club, I'm going to write a post inspired by this book, and not a review.  However, next week is Invisible Illness Week and I will be sharing my review and more in -depth thoughts of the book.  It's a serious subject, and my semi-light-hearted post about it tonight is in no way meant to take away from the subject matter.

My husband and I are adventurous eaters.  We've always taken care to pass that on to our kids.  Our two year old embraces this wholeheartedly - the only thing he will not eat are licorice jelly beans (and really....that's a good decision!).  Our seven year old has always been game to try new things, too, especially is she gets to help do the shopping and cooking.  Recently, however, she has completely put the brakes on eating anything other than what she has in mind at the time.  Foods she has always loved have suddenly landed on the "no-fly" list.

I get it - she's 3 weeks shy of seven years old.  She's trying to feel out her surroundings, her place amongst friends, and balance being a kid with being a "big sister" (and hence, more responsible), and exercise a measure of control over something in her life.  Some things I completely agree with her on - I don't like chunks of pineapple (the texture is funky...but we both like pineapple juice, or thinly sliced pieces), or the bits of fruit in yogurt.  But some things are just plain irritating, like the recent declaration that she "likes the flavors that onions impart on sauces, but not the onions themselves" (and yes, she really talks like that).

We talk to her a lot about the importance of meeting people halfway, and being open to new things.  Monday night, I made a family favorite - spaghetti with slow-cooked marinara.  I used more crushed tomatoes than diced (tomatoes have landed on the no-no list, somehow), minced the onions, and put half as much sauce on her noodles as normal.  Success!! She loved it, and was extremely appreciative of my efforts to meet her halfway.  It made it much easier to remind her that she has always loved salmon with teriyaki at dinner tonight :)

My plan is to wait her out, find some middle ground, and keep encouraging her to branch out.  I'm not going to make her special dinners, or allow her to only eat a narrow range of foods.  I'll keep explaining to her that my job is to make sure she gets a certain amount of protein, fruits, veggies, and other bits of goodness each day.  Thankfully, Brussels Sprouts are on the "yes, please, can I have another helping?" list!

How far would you go to advocate for your child?  In January First, father Michael Shofield and his family struggle to find the right treatment for their daughter Jani, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at six years old.  Join From Left to Write on September 6 as we discuss the Shofield's memoir January First. As a book club member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes; all opinions expressed are my own and I received no compensation.

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