I am taking a brief interruption from your regularly scheduled Trailmomma posts to allow myself the opportunity to vent, complainÂ or perhaps I am just seeking out some kind of personal connection to anyone who can relate to what we are going through right now in the Trailmomma household.
I know toddlers are picky. I know kids change their minds almost as much as women. I know that for most, dinner time can be a struggle when you have a 2 year old and a 5 year old sitting at the table. Still, my heart hangs a little lower these days and my mind is moving a mile a minute trying to find healthy meals and snacks that my two princesses will eat.
If history repeats itself or if healthy eating is hereditary then my girls won’t start eating healthy until they are in college. When I was their age, and well into my teenage years I was probably one of the pickiest kids on the planet. My foods could not touch. I did not like turkey at all and I think I consumed more microwave french fries than is humanly possible. Fruit? Never had it. We didn’t have apples in the house. We had Hostess. Vegetables? Canned corn. I drank soda like water (actually never even drank water unless you count Kool-Aid) and I lived across the street from two authentic Italian pizza places, a candy store and an ice cream shop.
The fact that I was never obese is purely due to the fact that my friends and I played outside from dawn until dusk as much as we possibly could. Something that the kids today do not do.
Still, when I reached college and the food choices were left up to me, I realized, after gaining the freshman 20, how certain foods made me feel. I had stopped eating meat in high school but the junk food was abundant in college.Â I finally understood how exercise (when not forced through a soccer/softball/basketball coach) was actually fun. I started running for my own enjoyment and I never stopped.
Now, with a passion for living a life consuming whole unprocessed plant-based foods, it makes me sad when I see the things my kids eat. This isn’t something entirely new, they’ve eaten poorly from the start mostly because as new parents, we were consumed with making sure our little ones had full bellies despite what we filled them with. I knew the processed foods the Peanut was eating were not good and yet, no matter what we offered, she refused. As an infant/toddler, she also never slept, ever and so we tried all we could to fill her belly at times hoping that would help her sleep. No dice.
Then Squeaker was born, and we raised her differently. I read (and shared with every expectant parent I knew) the bookÂ Baby Led Weaning and was inspired. We fed Squeaker whole foods. Nothing was jarred or pureeÂ ever. If she could pick it up, she could eat it and she did! She ate food that the Peanut never gave the time of day when she was Squeaker’s age. Vans and I were in heaven. Then, something changed. Before she turned two, Squeaker started refusing pretty much everything.
Now they probably eat all of five things. Total. The Peanut at least likes steamed broccoli and will consume a pile of it if we give it to her. She will eat carrots (raw) and steamed green beans and peas. However, she does not consume fruit. Not anything nor anything fruit related. No applesauce, no bananas, no berries and no apples. Forget melons or those little citrus cuties. It is maddening. She likes sweet things (namely chocolate) but she won’t touch fruit nor will she consume any smoothies either. Getting her to eat anything new is a struggle. I am pleased she will eat brown rice I am not thrilled that she won’t eat anything else. I can’t even feed her traditional kid favorites! She won’t eat pizza, peanut-butter and jelly or even spaghetti!
Squeaker is worse. She won’t consume any vegetables OR fruit. No smoothies. She won’t eat noodles. She will eat refried black beans and brown rice and grilled cheese like it is going out of style. Lara bars are a favorite snack but unfortunately so is gold fish or Cheeze-its. It is maddening to me.
My only hope is that Squeaker will evolve like the Peanut and start eating more of a variety of veggies but the Peanut has always eaten broccoli.
So here I sit, wracking my brain trying to come up with different snack ideas and meals for them. I am trying to go the healthier route but it is basically a waste of money according to Vans. My philosophy is: if you don’t try you’ll never know if they like it. Unfortunately, the Peanut doesn’t try anything new at school and just tosses her lunch most times if I sneak in “new” healthier foods.
With the start of the new year, I am drawing an invisible line in the sand. I want to be done with the days where I made three separate meals (one for the Peanut, one for Squeaker and one for Vans and myself). My time is limited already, adding personal chef to the mix is just insane.
So tonight I made Mama Pea’s Pizza Casserole. This is one dish that I can often get them to eat with a little cajoling. Squeaker will eat it only if she is 1) really hungry and 2) it is fresh (not reheated). The Peanut often resists for a while but will consume a small bowl.
Tomorrow I have another Mama Pea dish ready to throw into crock pot calledÂ Spicy African Peanut Stew. Tomorrow will be a struggle. Tomorrow there will be a fight but I am ready. People always tell me that “if kids are hungry, they will eat” and ya know what? That is a load of B.S! Those people have not met my kids who will not eat for a week if they put their minds to it.
I admire Ange over at Hol-FitÂ . Â She has provided me with countless tips and tricks to get my girls to eat healthier foods or make wiser choices. I like her approach to food as it relates to her two girls, in that she likes to ask them how certain foods make them feel. Does that piece of junk food make their tummy hurt? She makes them piece together the connection. I do that to a degree, but sadly most of the food they eat cause tummy distress and frankly, my kids could really care less about that stuff.
But I would be lying to say that reading, seeing photos of friends or other people’s kids consuming super healthy foods makes me feel like a failure. I make healthy choices for myself, why can’t I do that for my kids? Actually, I do, but I can’t force it down their throats.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
So while this post has no real purpose other than to broadcast my recent frustrations, I hope that I am not alone. Although, part of me hopes that I am, because I would like to think all kids are eating healthy but I know the reality of that is slim. The Hostess, Kellogg and General Mills companies are not giant money makers because people are shunning their food for broccoli. Monsanto isn’t the largest (most corrupt) company because people refuse their products.
I’ll keep trying to teach my girls the importance of wise choices when it comes to food as this is one battle I won’t give up. I am ready for the long haul. One stalk of broccoli at a time.