Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Find This Odd

The main thing I wanted to discuss with Mia's doctor yesterday was her recent eating habits. Or, non-eating habits, to be specific. I wanted to make sure that even if she only took one measly bite at dinner, this didn't qualify as neglect on my part, and wouldn't affect her in the long run.

The doctor was very reassuring. She told me how common it is for kids her age to suddenly become picky eaters, refusing foods that used to be favorites. My favorite piece of advice from her was this: "She doesn't have the brain capacity at this age to starve herself. She will eat when she gets hungry enough." The only thing is, I have to be willing to withstand her trying to control the situation. I have to be firm in not giving in with snack-foods when she comes to me, hungry, after not finishing a meal.

I can do this. After all, I think Mia got her stubborn streak from me, and I can hold out for a looooong time. Knowing that I have the doctor's approval. Knowing that she'll give in and eat when she's hungry enough.

Some more helpful tips: Make snacks available at a set time, no grazing through the day. Always offer at least one food at mealtimes that she usually eats. Don't make meals a big huge battle, just set out the rules, and be calm throughout. It's her choice in the end.

When we got home yesterday it was just about lunch time, and I was armed with my new super-relaxed frame of mind for eating. I'd give her the food, encourage her with praise, and be done with it. She ended up eating really well, so I offered her a 'special treat' of raspberry yogurt.

Not a highly motivating treat, I know, but I'm also trying to add more healthy snacks to her day, and labeling something as 'special treat' has worked wonders so far. "Do you want a special treat of strawberries and blueberries with sugar?" Her eyes light up and she reverently says yes. "Would you like a special treat of a heart shaped peanut butter sandwich?" This may be her favorite 'treat' by far. I'd better watch myself though, and not stretch this too far with a broccoli treat, or an enchilada treat. I can't expose my winning hand.

But yesterday, she started eating her yogurt and got very distressed over the actual bits of berry inside. They were just the tiny seeds, but she was convinced they were fruit. (She loves fruit by itself, but mixed in with other stuff? No go.) I wasn't going to push it - after all, her meal was done and this was just dessert - so I offered her some carrot sticks instead of yogurt.

She contemplated this for a second before suggesting, "I want to dip carrots in the yogurt, Mom, OK?"

I was about to tell her all the ways this was gross, but stopped myself. If this would get a dairy product past her lips, it was fair game.

"Sure, honey, that sounds great!" (Snort.)

And she did it.
It took about 7 baby carrots, but she finished the entire carton of yogurt. By herself, willingly, enthusiastically, determinedly, adorably.

This leads me to wonder, what other normal foods would be made better by being dipped on a carrot? Mashed potatoes? Chili? Stew? Spaghetti? I'm totally employing this tactic next time we hit a roadblock.

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?