It’s a kid food day! Feeding Beck is something I get in a rut with every once in awhile, and it kind of goes one of two ways. One, she eats a few healthy things so that’s all I give her because then she’s getting produce and protein and things that I’m cool with BUT not trying lots/any new things. Then we have part two where we have a ton of fun things or busy things and she eats pizza for five days straight because it’s quick and her favorite food.
Obviously one of those items is prooooobably preferable, but pizza is also a winner on an emotional level, there’s no denying that. We’ve been working with Beck more on eating all at once (she’s the queen of saying she needs to color in between bites or other silly but cute things), eating produce first, and trying new things even if she’s pretty sure she won’t like them.
Beck eats a lot of single-ingredient foods, and a few things with one or two flavors. She’ll eat fried rice most of the time, pasta with tomato sauce on it, and sometimes I can nudge spinach on her pizza, but mostly she’s still into really knowing what exact foods she’s eating. I give her a few different things each meal in REALLY small portions – two tablespoons of each thing, usually. Then, when she eats most of her first portions she gets more of her favorite stuff (always the carbs and fruit) as long as she’s eaten all of her veggies.
I do this because it gives me an idea of how hungry she really is. If she’s not hungry she’ll eat berries and plain noodles for days, but if she’s starving she has no problem with cucumbers and carrots. I’m not starving her by any means, but I try to use hungry times to get extra produce in her, and then use bad moods or hurried times for calories for the sake of calories, if that makes sense.
Here are some of her current favorites!
- Avocado with lemon juice and/or salt. She likes to do a pinch of salt herself and it’s super funny because her little fingers are so awkward.
- Raw carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.
- Frozen meatballs (some organic kind in the frozen kid food section)
- Oatmeal cooked with a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon. She eats it cold with a fork, which I realize sounds gross but she LOVES it.
- Fruit. All of it. Large quantities.
- Roasted carrots with curry powder and salt: 350F for 30 minutes or so, I just cut baby carrots in half for this.
- Potato wedges or sticks roasted just like the carrots but without curry powder. I call them french fries and she gets ketchup with them, feels like a huge treat.
- Sweet potatoes microwaved for 6-7 minutes, cooled, peeled, cubed. Plain Jane, and she gobbles them up.
- Cheese quesadillas.
- Refried beans.
- Black beans – these are hit or miss. Sometimes she loves them, sometimes she hates them.
- Frozen peas and corn. I literally thaw them in the fridge overnight and she eats them plain.
- Pasta plain with olive oil + salt or with tomato sauce. Nothing else in the sauce YOU STUPID PERSON HOW DARE YOU EVEN THINK THAT.
- Seared shrimp cut into bite-sized pieces, or fried shrimp at restaurants as a treat.
These are a lot of her all-the-time foods. Occasionally she’ll try foods I make for the blog and LOVE them while I’m photographing them but then refuse to eat them later on. I’ve been trying really hard recently to not talk AT ALL about the behavioral component of eating. Things like “you liked that earlier!” just don’t resonate with her and usually start some kind of fight that I know is coming from her confusion about statements like that.
I will say, though, that sometimes I can get her to try something if I say “when you were a teeny little baby you liked this, it was so weird!” because she accepts that she doesn’t remember that time? I know that is the exact opposite of the last statement, so maybe the point is to try to say things differently but the same and trick your kids? This is excellent advice.
As far as hiding foods, I don’t do it, full stop. No spinach in brownies or mashed butternut squash mac and cheese unless I actually want to make and eat those things myself. I don’t begrudge anyone doing that, certainly, but it’s important to me that Beck knows what actual foods are and eats them. I will say, some days getting good stuff in her is easy, and some days it’s not. I don’t force her to eat anything, ever, which is tough because of course we don’t want to starve our kids, but I’ve found that if she’s hungry she’ll eat the good foods, she’s not going to hold out for a week until we break and give her pizza. Some days she eats the two tablespoons of noodles or whatever for dinner, but the next morning eats a ton of oatmeal.
We do have one game that we started called PRODUCE BITE, and it is very dumb. About a year ago Beck got into the “no brown stuff” mess, like with edges of avocados or if a sweet potato looked weird to her. We told her probably a hundred times that produce comes from the ground like flowers and all looks different, and so even if it looks weird, close your eyes, try it, and PRODUCE BITE! She loves closing her eyes (I know, I know), so thought this was a fun game, and we praise her relentlessly for trying things that aren’t perfect looking and making the connection that they still taste the same.
One thing we’ve been working on in general is not taking things personally, and that definitely relates to feeding Beck. If she doesn’t try a new food we don’t take it as a personal insult, we don’t see it as bad behavior. We try again and again, sometimes with bribes, and mostly with very persistent calm repetition, and the mantra that “she is not doing this to me. my day will not be ruined by my daughter not eating a carrot.” Some days this works and some days we are terrible at it, but I know for sure that screaming at a kid to eat something will not make them eat it.
I also think that kids will eventually eat things when presented with them enough times, especially when NOT presented with foods you know they’ll eat, looking at you chicken nugget dinosaurs. We don’t talk to Beck about good foods and bad foods, but we do tell her that lots of produce will make her big and strong. We also tell her that sometimes she won’t like things and that’s perfectly fine, she doesn’t have to like things and we’re proud when she tries new stuff just in case.
So, that’s what we’re doing now. It’s not magic, it’s not glamorous, but I think it’s going pretty well so far. I’d love to have more ideas for healthy things that I’m forgetting to make for her/any fun games to encourage trying new things! The PRODUCE BITE (you have to yell it while squinting) game is very sophisticated, so don’t feel bad if you don’t understand it just yet.