The pitter patter of…rejected food hitting the floor.
This spring, I planted a collard green plant in the middle of the garden. Why? Because Bun Bun enjoyed stewed collard greens. As autumn sets in, that same collard plant–untouched save for a plague of caterpillars that I dutifully battled to the death*–has come to symbolize just how few fucking things my child will eat anymore.
Yeah, I know, I’m in really good company. Even as I was thinking about venting, a nice post showed up on the same subject. I really liked the organization of it, so I’m going to duplicate some of it. It seems like there are already other people writing about the same topic right now, so while this is not part of any organized thing (you know how I hate organized THINGS), here goes.
Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine, as discussed here. We eat meals together, she gets food at specific times of day, and only when seated at the table, I decide what, she decides how much and whether. The logic behind this book still works to keep me sane when Bun Bun rejects ALL THE FOOD, but it doesn’t prevent me from feeling like I need to keep searching for things she will eat, because she keeps dropping things from her list.
We stared solids at five months, and there are days when I’m convinced if I’d just waited till six months, she wouldn’t be picky. We did baby led weaning, and everything was wonderful. She ate everything and I was all, Pshaw, what is this picky eating thing? Not in my superior specimen of humanity! Over the next six months she got progressively more likely to reject things. She was still nursing at one year, but I was supplementing with formula because of the life sucking fetus in my uterus. At one year we started mixing cow’s milk with her formula and quickly transitioned to all cow, which she will drink plenty of, but only if warm and in a bottle.** She eats with her hands, though I occasionally spoon feed her things if I’m in a hurry, and I also let her practice with the spoon when I’m not in a hurry, and she’s not bad! She still eats in her diaper because of the mess that results from eating with her hands. She has ditched the food hat. She’s okay at drinking from an open cup, and I’ve replaced the sippy cups with straw cups. I am a hippie who won’t give her processed foods or sugar, though my husband will give her processed foods, oh yes, the bastard. Also note that she has only 3.25 teeth.
The Food Pyramid
Carbs: Will eat: Oatmeal (I make hers simple, but check out this great recipe for Heavily Doctored Oatmeal), bread (whole grain, as that’s what we eat), rice cakes, most forms of pancake (so eats a lot of pancakes with vegetables in them), flour tortillas, english muffins. Won’t eat: Pasta, rice, lots of other things I’m forgetting about because I’m so depressed.
Plants: Will eat: Almost any fruit, including kiwi berries. Corn on the cob. Cucumbers, which I think are nutritionally void. Won’t eat: Most vegetables, including greens of all kinds, tubers, peas, you know, everything.
Dairy: Will eat: Warm milk in a bottle, smoothies. We eat all full-fat products in our house. Won’t eat: All forms of cheese except cream cheese on toast. Yogurt if not in a smoothie.
Protein: I’m vegetarian and don’t cook meat, but Mr. Bunny sometimes does. Will eat: veggie dogs, almond butter on bread. Won’t eat: meat, poultry, eggs, tofu, legumes of any kind. Haven’t tried fish.
A Typical Day
Breakfast – oatmeal with raisins, or toast with cream cheese, fruit.
Lunch – pancakes (I typically make up large batches and freeze them. Sweet potato served with applesauce are a favorite, she also eats other kinds like cheese and corn, garbanzo bean and pea, provided there’s ketchup. I put a blob on the table, she dips bits in.) Fruit. I used to give her a lot of leftovers, but if she rejected it at dinner, she usually rejected it at lunch. Plus, since I’m generally eating leftovers, I can offer her some and she can turn her little nose up at them.
Dinner – Fruit, plus whatever we’re having. We are lucky in that we eat together as a family because we’re both home early enough, so no need to prepare anything special. This is where she gets exposed to exotic things like enchiladas made with green chile imported specially from my native New Mexico, saag paneer, latkes, lentil salad with spinach, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes from the garden, home-made pizza, beautiful, marvelous, REAL FOOD. She almost always rejects it these days.
Snacks – Two per day. Something small, carb+dairy. A bottle of milk or some smoothie, plus a slice of bread with almond butter and unsweetened fruit spread, or some fruit, or half an english muffin with butter and honey.
1. This kind of says it all. WON’T EAT: pasta, rice, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, meat, eggs, tofu, legumes. And when I say won’t eat, I mean I present her with them regularly and she regularly rejects them. Most of these are things she used to eat happily, and now won’t touch.
2. I feel like I spend a lot of time and effort trying to come up with things she’ll eat in order to ensure she has a varied, nutritious diet. My husband, meanwhile, gives her the same boring shit over and over, or reverts to convenience items like veggie dogs, annies mac and cheese, or dry cheerios. I guess I just want him to suffer as well. Or maybe to fucking HELP.
3. Every week I go to the grocery store and am inspired by all the beautiful food. I think I could make X for her! Or Y! I bet she’d love Z! And then I think about what will happen. She will cringe away in horror like she does, gingerly push X, Y, or Z to the floor, and with it, my money, my time, my energy, and my beating heart. All of which will be swept up and thrown away. And it’s not that I just assume the worst and don’t try. Every few weeks I’ll have some spare energy and decide to try a bunch of new things. And the above scenario occurs. It’s exhausting and SAD.
Anyway, if you read all of this, chances are you’ve got a toddler as well, so if you have any tips, do share. In return, I’ll share my recipe for pancakes. The recipe sans sweet potato, sugar, and spices can be used as a base for whatever other tasty things your child would enjoy not eating. I’m going to try spinach and cheese this week.
Sweet potato pancakes for Baby Bunnies
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar, OR NOT.
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
2/3 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and spices.
In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth.
Combine the two, make pancakes. I make them fairly small, then when they’re cool, I wrap two or three (the number she’ll eat) in plastic wrap, put ’em all in a bag, and stick it in the freezer.
**Remember when I tried to change her mind on that one? I lost that battle completely. She just refused milk in any form other than bottle, and went on with her day. Turns out you can’t condition an animal if it doesn’t care about the reward. You know, if you’re like Hey rat, why don’t you push this red lever instead of the blue one in order to get your food pellet? and the rat is like Fuck you and your bullshit food pellet, what are you supposed to do…other than introducing so-called negative rewards, otherwise known as child abuse.