Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Food Battles

Cheese QuesadillaIn this house it feels like there is a daily struggle with the four year old on eating.  When is too early or too late for a meal or a snack.  What is healthy and allowed.  What is "enough" to warrant getting up from the table or a dessert.  He's gotten into the habit of asking "how many bites?" when the answer should always be "until it's all gone."  Some days it feels like he's a mini dictator, telling us how to parent him rather than the other way around.  Every birthday I hope that the following year it get easier.  His brother was never this difficult.  My seven year old will eat just about anything.  He may do so under duress, but he knows the value of eating his plate clean.  My little guy?  There are few things that I can put in front of him and walk away knowing he wouldn't dare share them with the dog.

Cheese quesadillas are one of those things.  He'd eat those three meals a day most days.  I don't know why I never thought of making him try them sooner.  Over this summer we started eating at Moe's Southwest Grill about a mile from our house.  Kids eat free on Tuesday night, so it's an easy way to get dinner done without the hassle of dishes.  He called them Moe's Cheese Sandwich in the beginning, but his pronunciation of quesadilla has improved enough he says it correctly now.  He's been hooked since.  And best part?  They take less time than a traditional grilled cheese sandwich.  Just a plain pan, a tortilla, and shredded cheese.  Let it cook for about 1-2 minutes, fold in half, and cut with a pizza slicer.  Bam!  Lunch is served.

Cheese Quesadilla

Not that this warrants me Mother of the Year or anything, but I do give myself a good pat on the back when he eats one and asks for another.   Two pats for something that only costs pennies to make and less than five minutes to prepare start to finish.  A stack of tortillas at Costco is only a few dollars.  Same for a giant bag of shredded cheese.  And both will last a good two weeks without going bad.  I wish he'd eaten the mandarin orange slices I put on the plate, but that ended up being more for color than his appetite that day.  Big brother came home from school and inhaled them anyway.

I'll never forget the time our oldest was in his high chair, refusing to eat some new recipe I'd found in a cookbook somewhere.  It was absolutely delicious to my husband and I.  Not so much to him.  After getting frustrated arguing with a two year old to "eat it", I left the room to complain to my husband in the kitchen.  In the background we could hear our toddler shouting at the dog, "eat it, puppy, EAT IT!" in the same tone I'd been using with him.  I realized then that my frustrations were influencing him and not in a good way.  I loosened up with trying to force him to eat new things and focused more on feeding him things I knew he'd eat.  Lots of corn, potatoes, and chicken nuggets, but meals became much less of a struggle almost instantly, and he's been a fantastic eater ever since.

Cheese Quesadilla
See  how much happier he is?  My smile is about 10 x as big, because I know none of that is getting wasted.

My advice to mothers struggling with finding the right foods for their kids to eat?  Don't waste so much effort on it.  If your doctor isn't worried, don't let it overrun your relationship with your child.  Don't feed them garbage every meal, but if they latch on to something, and it's not laced with chemicals, let them eat it until they move on to another.  We offer healthy fruits and veggies at every meal, but our kids don't always finish every bite.  Three is our minimum, and then we move on.  It's not worth the fight.  The kids get vitamins every night to help supplement the vitamins and minerals they may not have gotten "enough" of during the day.  But offering them a wide variety of fruits and veggies, we've found the ones they aren't so opposed to eating and try to make those the most.  It may mean we eat corn or broccoli or greenbeans with every meal, but it also means our kids are, too.  When they're older, we can try again with different ones.  And if they only eat raw carrots instead of cooked carrots?  Oh, well.  They're eating carrots.  It's a small victory for them and a small one for me.

Thanks so much for reading!  Don't forget to PIN this article for future reference and of course check out more of my delicious recipes and crafts on the blog.  See you next time!

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