The F Word

6

Food.

In our house, we do not just have a picky eater. We have a four-year old son who has 4,863,628 things he would rather do than sit down and eat a meal. I should clarify that this has been a challenge for us since day one. We brought our bundle of sweet sleeping joy home from the hospital and all he wanted to do was sleep. He never woke up screaming for food. My husband or myself would have to wake him up to feed him. As an infant, our son hated touching food. The kid wouldn’t touch puffs or yogurt melts. We even had a 3-month period where he reverted from purees back to formula. Eventually we got him back on solid foods, but his diet has always been pretty limited, and it hasn’t always been nutritious. Add in typical preschool behavior of refusing favorite foods just to be difficult, and the atmosphere around food at our house was a real treat. As parents, my husband and I reached a point that we didn’t necessarily care what our son ate just as long as he was eating something. In our minds, food = fuel, and our kid needed energy.

In recent months, our strategy proved to be parent fail. Food affects moods. Moods affect everyone. Our four-year old’s mood was pretty lousy. We were either fighting him to eat, or struggling with him later because he didn’t eat anything. In short, our son’s diet of Mott’s Fruit Snacks, grilled cheese, Pirate Booty, and a few grapes, was taking a toll on all of us. After researching and trying many different methods, tactics, and strategies, my husband and I finally decided to reach out to a nutritionist for help. We are so glad that we did. Below are a few key takeaways from our meetings, which are helping us with learning and teaching healthy eating habits to our preschooler.

• Focus on high protein and high (good) fat foods. Lots of Omega 3’s are the goal.
• Keep sugar between 12-15 grams total per day. Let’s go ahead and agree this is easier said than done, but it cane be done!
• 4-6 protein forward mini-meals through the day.
• If you are going to offer fruit or food that is processed as sugar (such as crackers with carbs), you can balance that food with another food that contains good fats. Try offering a cheese stick with crackers. Or a cheese stick with grapes.
• Stay away from sugars and foods with lots of dyes. We cleaned out all fruit snacks, go-gurts,  Nutrigrain bars, etc… Yes, the kid equivalent of your chocolate and wine stash.
• Just because a food isn’t a regular breakfast food, does not mean it cannot be eaten for breakfast. If your child will eat beans and rice for breakfast, serve it!  It is about getting sustaining foods in their system to keep them from riding the hypoglycemic rollercoaster through the day, and dragging you with them.
• If using a cooking spray to prepare a food, replace it with Kerry Gold butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Again, any way to work in those healthy fats.
• No more cow’s milk at our house. Try almond milk instead. Maybe a 4 ounce serving at most, after a meal. Do not allow your child to fill up on milk at the table. It keeps them from eating their meals (our son was a master of this tactic).
• You can allow small amounts of sugars/sweeteners with things like honey, real maple syrup, and dark chocolate. I add a few dark chocolate covered raisins to trail mix (literally like four of them), or dark chocolate almond milk as a treat.
• A good way to add meat into meals like sauces and soups is to process them as fine as you can.  We ordered a Ninja, and it has helped with adding red meat and chicken into meals.
• Smoothies are always good too! Just watch the fruit ratio.

On the left are our old snacks, on the right are the new ones!

Since making these changes and adding some supplements, we have noticed a shift in our son’s behavior. He is more even-keeled throughout the day and is eating more sustaining foods he likes. While a lot of his diet is the same from day-to-day, he doesn’t seem to mind. Consistency is key here. We still have some rough days, but they are starting to be outnumbered by better days.

Please note all little bodies and metabolisms are different. I am NOT a health expert. I wanted to share one of the biggest struggles we have faced in our home, in the event one of you can relate. Truth be told, this whole eating ordeal can be quite isolating. Especially when you see another child happily shoving fistfuls of edamame in their mouth like its Godiva Chocolate, and you are battling your kid to eat a banana. If you do have questions about your child’s behavior and diet, you should absolutely reference a pediatrician or nutritionist before making changes. Good luck and happy eating!

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Lindsay is a Midwest Gal now defrosting here in the Southwest. She and her family were relocated to Scottsdale in 2014 due to her Husband’s job, and they are loving desert life! Lindsay and her Husband have two children, a 6 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. On the weekends, you can find their family camping, hiking, or at Costco buying all the things. Prior to becoming a stay at home Mom, Lindsay worked in the SaaS industry implementing software. She enjoys traveling, photography, awful 90's pop, and roaming REI for unnecessary outdoor gear.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great article, I’ve recently been struggling with finding a variety of recipes to meet some of the guidelines you laid out. Question for you: why did the nutritionist say no to cows milk? I myself only drink almond milk, but why did they say not for your kiddo? Thanks!

    • Thank you, Natalie! Our nutritionist said no to cows milk because of the casein that it contains. For some kids, they have a hard time with processing it. So that, combined with the fact that our little guy filled up on milk at meals, rather than actual food, we just found it best for us to eliminate it at this time. He gets his dairy fix from cheese and other sources, while drinking water with meals.

      We rely a lot on meals with brown rice and beans, homemade soups (that will last a few meals through the week), working things like eggs and wheat germ into a meal such as macaroni and cheese. Costco sells Wholly Guacamole in individual servings and those have been amazing. We also live in the bulk nut aisle at Sprouts. Its all about getting creative and going for those quality foods over empty calories. If you ever want to chat offline, you can reach me at [email protected]. Have a great rest of the week!

  2. Every time I come across one of these articles I read it hoping for some insight or magical spell to get my 9 yr old son to eat. I never find it. My problem is he just won’t eat. Anything. Not sweets, not healthy, nothing. Dinner takes around an hour to two of him picking tiny pieces and putting them in his mouth to trying everything from hiding it in his pockets to flushing it down the toilet. He will eat 4 things. Eggs, milk, cantaloupe and sometimes grapes. NOTHING else. The Dr. Says don’t worry. OK. Easy to say.

    • Hi Micki! I can completely relate 100%. Back when my son was at the transition from toddler to preschooler, our pediatrician told me that he would go from eating three good meals a day, to three good meals a week. The problem was that he never really ate three good meals a day to begin with! So, yes… always easy for the doctors to say when the doctors aren’t the ones at your dinner table chasing a small madman with a spoonful of rice.

      While we are working out the menu portion of our food journey, we still have struggles with the actual eating portion. Just the other night we had an hour an a half dinner time as well. So, I promise I feel your pain. And it is SO frustrating! While you may not have found the magic spell in this post, I hope you know that I can relate to your struggle. And at this point in time, it is safe to say there is no magic answer. All kids are so different. Case and point, one day my son will be all about needing to eat for fuel, just like cars get gas. A day later? When I mention that same concept, he looks at me like I have 6 heads.

      If you ever want to chat offline feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. Because I know that this whole process is a big challenge. One thing I really appreciated about the nutritionist we met with was that she worked with foods that our son DID eat. That way he didn’t feel like he was being approached with a bunch of change at once. It is a slow road for sure, and I hope that you are able to find some options that work for you and your son!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Would love to know the name of the nutritionist you went to if you don’t mind sharing it.

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