While many of us parents might have different parenting styles, different ways to discipline and different views on education, I think most of us probably share some frustration with one thing – to get our kids to eat. Certainly there’s probably some of you overachievers that have figured out to get your kids to eat the healthiest of foods and to eat good portions each time. Those people can first stop lying and secondly, skip this post. For the rest of us, this is a constant battle.
Let me describe my kids eating habits. My 7-year-old daughter doesn’t have great eating habits. As I’ve mentioned, she has ADHD and takes medication for it, so that impacts her eating habits. For breakfast she like Eggo waffles during the week. On weekends she likes eggs, bacon, pancakes and other decent breakfast food. She eats lunch at school, which is an entirely different post. From what I gather, she doesn’t eat very well at school. Sometimes it’s because the food is nasty (I wouldn’t eat it) and other times I don’t think she is all that hungry. When she gets home she’s usually hungry for some kind of crappy snack (usually something sweet) and then dinner can be a complete toss-up. She is not a lover of many proteins. She loves carbs with a passion – pasta, bread and the like. The only meat she eats are chicken usually. To get her to eat anything other than that can be a complete struggle.
My son, on the other hand, is a meat lover. He eats some carbs, but much prefers meats. For breakfast he will usually have Cheerios on weekdays, but the same breakfasts on the weekends. I don’t even know what he has for lunch at school because I don’t get to see the menu, but undoubtedly he eats well. For dinner, he is far easier to please. He will eat almost any meat I put in front of him. The only thing he really hates is mac and cheese, go figure.
So as a parent I face two different struggles. With my daughter, it has almost always been to get her to actually eat her food. Depending on what’s on her plate, the dinner can go something like this:
Me: Gwyn, eat your meat. (She eats one bite, a bite of bread, talks, fidgets, etc)
Me: Gwynie, can you eat some more food, please? (She eats one more bit, lots more bread, one kernel of corn).
Gwyn: Dad, can I be done?
Me: Gwyn, you need to eat a little more for me, baby. (She eats a half a bite of meat, finishes her bread and one more kernel of corn)
Gwyn: I’m done, daddy.
After a loud sigh I try to convince her to eat a little more which can or can’t be successful. Depending on the day, I might fight the battle or not.
My son eats at the approximate pace of a 92-year-old man. He will eat his food, but is busy pretending to be Luke Skywalker in his mind and will forget that it’s actually time to eat. So by the time Gwyn and I are done eating, he has eaten about six bites and we sit there and wait for him to finish his food. There’s plenty worse problems to have, but it can make the end of some meals tedious as we watch him slowly finish he meal.
What is most troublesome for me as a parent is trying to get the right foods for my kids. To no surprise they like fast food and I take full responsibility for that. Even if I don’t eat it, sometimes we’re so busy I stop at McDonalds or another fast food place just to get them dinner at a reasonable time. And even when we don’t eat at fast food, they’re certainly not one to veer from the typical suburban chain restaurants. Much to my chagrin, they’re chicken strip, french fry eaters at many restaurants. I know I came to like foods like sushi, Thai, guacamole and others when I was an adult – but there has to be a way to move from the chicken strip/pizza mentality. But let’s face it, most of us don’t want to fight that battle when we’re at our neighborhood eatery – we just want to have a nice meal, so we let the kids order their chicken strips.
So how did we come to this? How did kids become such picky eaters? I think many of us, when we were kids were made to eat what was on our plates. I know I was. You ate what was on your plate or there was some kind of discipline. We didn’t waste food. Like most kids, I wasn’t adventurous in eating, but my parents weren’t exactly throwing cuisine from around the globe at me. But I do thank them for introducing seafood and some other dishes that people seem to freak out over. But how is it that I’m celebrating that I managed to get my kids to eat a burrito as some big victory? Why don’t our kids face the same punishment when they don’t eat their meal? I don’t really know the answer. I try to be tough about it, but at the end of the day, I can’t shove food down the kid’s throats. And it’s not always a battle I want to fall on the sword for.
So what’s the answer here? How do we get kids to expand their horizons? Or how do we get them to simply eat a meal? How do we get a fast meal in that’s not fast food? A lot of that is finding creative ways to get healthier food for the kids, some of it is taking small steps to expand their horizons. And I think some of it is giving them one option.
But here’s where I ask what you are doing or what you did with your kids? I’m incredibly interested to know how the other half lives. Are you facing the same problems? Help a dad out. And kids, just eat your food! Pretty please?
Until next time,