Carrot pennies

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about D and his limited diet.  I still worry that he’s going to develop scurvy or something, but I’ve pretty much come to peace with Ellyn Satter’s division of labor — we decide what food to put in front of him; he decides what he’s going to eat of it.  For Thanksgiving, he had a miniscule taste of the cheese biscuits and pumpkin muffins.  He’s decided that plain spaghetti is acceptable, so I guess we’re making progress.  He’s active, he’s happy, he’s at a higher percentile on the growth curve than I was at his age, so we’re trying not to worry.

As I commented to Phantom Scribbler this week, dealing with kids’ food issues is incredibly frustrating, in part because everyone has really good advice.  Except that, like us, she’s tried almost everything you can think of, and it hasn’t made a difference.  (And Baby Blue isn’t gaining weight, so she’s under a lot more pressure than we are.)

One of the standard pieces of advice that people give is that kids will be more willing to eat different things if they’re involved in cooking them.  That hasn’t worked so well for us.  D loves to cook dinner, but only because it lets him control the menu — so we all wind up eating peanut butter on ritz crackers, with sprinkles.  So tonight, I told him that if he wants to cook dinner, it has to involve a protein and a vegetable, as well as a starch. 

He promptly pulled out Pretend Soup, which a friend gave him quite a while ago and he ignored, and started perusing the recipes.  We didn’t have the ingredients for most of the recipes, but we did have carrots, and he said that he wanted "carrot pennies."  So we sliced up a few carrots — and miracle of miracles — he ate some. 

14 Responses to “Carrot pennies”

  1. Phantom Scribbler Says:

    LG would be thrilled to join D for a dinner of Ritz crackers, peanut butter, and sprinkles. (I laughed out loud at the sprinkles part.) Or plain spaghetti. That’s his idea of gourmet eating.
    LG’s forays into cooking tend to head down the “science experiment” road, and involve pouring water on various unappetizing collections of ingredients. Nor does he ever show any particular intention to eat his creations afterward. Just as well, really.
    But Pretend Soup has been languishing on our bookshelf for years. Maybe I’ll pull it out and see if one of the kids gets interested. LG says he likes carrots — theoretically, anyway. I’ve never seen him eat one, though.
    (I don’t even have anything to say about Baby Blue. It’s too depressing. But at least she’s snacking right now on potato chips dipped in melted ice cream…)

  2. Jennifer Says:

    We used to describe Chatterboy as a “yellowarian” – he would eat anything as long as it was yellow. But recently he demanded to make a recipe he’d read in a school reader – a dip made with yoghurt, cucumber and dill. And he even ate some!
    His fussiness has diminished dramatically. He still doesn’t eat much, but he tries pretty much anything that we put on his plate at least once without much fuss. I don’t think we had anything to do with the improvement – he was just ready for it, so I have no useful suggestions, just patience.

  3. dave s Says:

    “yellowarian” I like – we have described our #2 as being on the beige diet. Peanut butter is good! Lots of protein and the fat is unsaturated. Trader Joe’s sells sunflower butter, which is a hit. We have also had success loading up the spaghetti with a mix of parmesan and cheddar before serving it. Roasted chicken is dependable – a fryer, squeeze lemon juice onto it, sprinkle it with adobo, place in oven and wait 1 1/2 hours. They always like it, the smell as it cooks leads to anticipation.
    Our guys will in general eat frozen peas – either cooked or still-frozen, and broccoli. They will eat raw carrots, but cooked carrots are loathsome – go figure. Dessert only happens for kids who have eaten a good dinner, watching a brother tuck into a bowl of ice cream has resulted in some quick eating from previously spurned plates of dinner. Last night I yelled at #2 when he said, “I don’t like leftovers” when I had heated up some chicken for him since I made salmon (he hates it now, 6 months ago he was fine with it) for the rest of the family. So that was a failure, and he will make it up at school eating lunch. They are all healthy and growing well at every check-up, so I try not to think about it too much.

  4. Jody Says:

    I totally fall into the trap of forgetting that anyone writing about a child-related issue has probably already heard all the possible solutions, and has just as much access to Dr. Google as I do.
    I post my troubles occasionally, in the hope that someone might say something useful. But more often, I keep them to myself because I can’t bear the cascade of ideas I’ve already considered, tried, and abandoned.
    I suppose it’s not a very friendly policy.
    Good luck. The carrot-penny story is cute. And — success!
    [Did you mean to type out all of D’s name there in the third paragraph? I’d be relieved to discover that I’m not the only one who slips up on these issues from time to time….]

  5. Suzanne Says:

    I’m right there with you — my son prefers grains to the exclusion of everything else (unless the fruit or vegetable is inside a muffin). He’s thriving, but I have no idea how. Like you, we’ve tried all the terrific suggestions out there for encouraging him to eat, to no avail.

  6. Megan Says: oldest (also 4) has almost the exact diet as D, execept she won’t eat peanut butter or hot dogs. She likes dairy and grains. Other than that we can give her plain pasta, chicken nuggets, a VERY occassional meatball, applesauce and banana/berry babyfood. yes, I give my 4 year old babyfood. I figue, hey, its a fruit that she will eat. In fact, she LOVES it. If one more person (or peditrican) tells me that if I just gave her other stuff she would eat it, I will kill them. Or, actually, just send her to live with them for a weekend and see how it goes. Every once in a while we try a few days of refusing to cater to her ridiculous eating and she literally won’t eat. She will whine and complain, but she would rather eat nothing than eat against her will. The funny part is my 2 yr old eats just about everything and I SWEAR we have treated them the same way one it comes to food. I think people fail to realize that you cannot make someone eat something they don’t want to. Not if they have a strong enough will – not that I know where she got that from 😉

  7. Sandy D. Says:

    It’s amazing how we pat ourselves on the back if our kids eat vegetables. My 5 y.o. recently began eating carrot sticks (a big deal, since the only fruit/veg acceptable before this was applesauce, a few peas, hummus, ketchup and banana) and my husband and I were deliriously happy for a week. We both still get a warm fuzzy feeling when she voluntarily takes a carrot stick, loads it with dip, and eats it.
    I get particularly annoyed with people (including some in my family) who state that they just provide lots of healthy choices and their kids eat them, and that we just need to be firm and consistent. WTF do they think we’ve been doing for the last five years? Offering her twinkies for breakfast?

  8. Sandy D. Says:

    Ah, I see I should have read Megan’s comment above mine. Megan, my 5 y.o. dd also eats Heinz blueberry applesauce. Only that brand, room temperature. And she notices if we sneak another brand in the same jar, or try and add something like a little mushed prune juice to it.
    No peanut butter here, either. “It looks like poop!”….well, so does milk chocolate but she hasn’t had any problems eating that.

  9. Elizabeth Says:

    Megan, we have the exact same thing going on with the boys– N. will eat almost anything we put in front of him. At 3, he’s 34 pounds, and N (almost 6) is 38 pounds. It does make me much more confident that this isn’t the result of something that we’ve done.

  10. bj Says:

    I think that if it’s not having a dramatic effect on their health (i.e. being overweight/underweight, signficantly enough that it’s a health concern), we have to let it go, and just provide oportunity. My kids are picky, but, they aren’t over or underweight (at least not significantly); I worry because we aren’t good enough about giving them opportunity. We’re sloppy at preparing meals, and will not always remember to offer the balanced meal, especially when it comes to vegetables.
    I really don’t believe in deprivation diets (i.e. forbidding anything — of course, there’s an exception for allergies). I was thinking about why I think this, and it’s ’cause food is special (even if you’re worried about addiction). One can unhealthy addictive behaviors with alcohal, cigarettes, or drugs by abstinence, but food requires moderation. There is almost no food that is completely bad or completely good.

  11. Fred Vincy Says:

    Kids who don’t eat vegetables are not a sign of parental failure. Our younger son also does not eat many vegetables, though he will eat lots of carrots with ranch dressing. I’ll usually put a leaf of spinach or something on his plate and, if pushed, he’ll nibble the tiniest bit. Though we have added a chewable vitamin to his diet, I mostly figure all we can do is offer vegetables and let him know that they are important to his health. Ultimately, he’s going to be responsible for his own food choices and the consequences of his decisions.
    For what it’s worth, I was the same as a child. I ate pretty much only hotdogs for a whole summer and was a big consumer of “I Hate Vegetables” (a frozen roduct, no longer available, where they turn all kinds of vegetables into french fries so kids will eat them. Now, I eat a balanced diet and have no obvious health problems….

  12. NTE Says:

    Congrats on the carrot pennies. It just so happens I am reading Child of Mine right now, and am finding it so interesting: Why didn’t I figure this out before? As long as I am putting quality food in front of them, they get to decide how much and whether or not they eat it at all. For some reason, I had not considered it this way before, but it makes so much sense!
    We’ve been caring for Youngest Nephew for 6 years now, and he hit his picky eater stage at 3. Thankfully, he’s mostly moved past it ~and will now eat… oh, just about anything besides fruit. But we were so worried/stressed out about it then. (“Ketchup does not count as a food!” No, wait… if it’s all he’ll eat, why doesn’t it?) And now that Baby Girl is here, it’s nice to know, should she have her own eating issues, that following your instincts & common sense is more important than forcing the issue, ‘just because’.

  13. MCMilker Says:

    I subscribe to that theory too. In order for the Hamster to attend his Lab preschool I am required to take a child development class. Sometimes some gems fall out.” I decide when and what; he decides how much and if”. Rather than the actual eating, it’s been the timing that has been my issue – “no wait Mom, I’m still playing”; an hour later.” now I’m hungry”.
    The other tidbit that someone along the way told me is to worry about intake over a week, not over a day. Since at 4, some days he eats more than me and sometimes less than a grasshopper, that’s comforting.

  14. ElizabethN Says:

    “I decide when and what; he decides how much and if.”
    One thing I’ve always wondered about this maxim – how does it apply when they want to eat what seems like too much of something? I don’t want Dorothy to eat as many tomatoes as she wants, because I’m going to have to deal with diaper rash the next day. But it’s hard when she knows there are more cherry tomatoes on the counter.

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