Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mealtime Superstitions

If there's one word to describe me -- and I had to choose -- I would say persistent. So this means a definitive no at the dinner table doesn't really work for me. I'm sure my family thinks I'm nuts, but I have always had mealtime superstitions.

I can see my good friend MPJ laughing right now because she has more than I do, but I do wonder if we're alone?

First, I already mentioned yesterday that snacks are very limited at our house to save room for nutritious meals.

But, I have other rules, too. Like, we have to be home to eat. We rarely go out. And, while we do make exceptions, I try to limit the number of people around when it's time to eat a meal. It's just too distracting and they won't eat.

More than that, though, I use the same plates for the same meals, the same seats with their letters on each chair. I have refused to use the newer pink plates since their first use because they didn't eat well and I wondered if Pink might be an appetite suppressant. So, I use them, instead. (And, a quick search revealed I was right!)

Lately, the girls have been wanting to switch chairs. I am not happy about this. I insist, but they insist harder. They win, and they prove that my Good Luck Charm mechanism isn't needed all the time. Worse, yet, is the fact that they are switching between boosters and high chairs now, too. (Note to self: sell high chairs now!)

I never serve the yogurt with lunch; it always follows. They would fill up on yogurt if I did so. Same with fruit at dinner. I serve it as dessert. I cannot budget on any of these.

My persistence has paid off, though. They do eat pretty well and I've been able to do a song and dance to get them to try most things. For instance, if a sandwich cut in quarters doesn't work, I give them "bites." I never cut first because I can't put it back together, again. But, sometimes they want "big" pieces, which means whole.

When they've denied a food, I try giving them adult forks or spoons or taking their plates away and just giving them one piece of food so they are not as overwhelmed.

But, I do feel consistency is important -- for nothing more than my sanity. These are the few things I can control with them.

In fact, I've tried switching things up by offering a relaxed meal of muffin and yogurt for breakfast and it's been a no-go at least three times. They need high maintenance, low-prep foods that are not pre-packaged. AT home. In quiet. With no distractions. In their own chairs. With the right plates. With me present.

And then they eat great!!

Our attempts to take them out to eat has nearly always resulted in eating disasters. Oh, they were fine ... I was the one crying and upset because I didn't enjoy my meal because I was so busy worrying about if they were getting enough.

The truth is I have to keep my Good Luck Charms because, well, it makes me feel better. This does not mean I do not make exceptions. I do not force them to eat anything.

OK, I did offer an M & M once in swap of a bite of broccoli.

What's worse? Bribes or superstitions?


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8 comments:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Yep. My son definitely has his meal restrictions. And I've got my own sensory/compulsive issues around food. Older relatives hate the way mealtime works at our house, because it doesn't look like it's supposed to, but it works for us.

InTheFastLane said...

Jack Jack does not eat at restaurants. In fact, he does not even sit still very well, so we don't take him out that much, unless we are into scarfing food for the sake of letting our older kids out of the house.

Shannon said...

My boys have to have their world predictable, especially at meal time. Same seats, same plates, same routine of food then yogurt then fruit. I even start them off with their plastic spoons knowing that within 5 minutes, they'll hand them back and want big spoons, which they get. I think it helps them feel in control of something. Restaurants are a nightmare, we don't try those much.

Candace & Anna said...

I'm not going to pretend to know the difficulties you go through. Anna has always been a pretty good eater. I do find that if she is having an off day I can ask her if I can have her food and she will typically say no and eat a bite or two. Or sometimes she will think my plate looks more appealing so I will let her eat off of it. Sometimes she even wants to swap forks with me lol. We usually give her a salad plate that looks like our plates and she uses our silverware. It is glass but she has always done very well with it. Of course with 2 of them I am sure that could be disasterous.

Shawn said...

I'm sure Shannon has experienced this, too, but if I leave the room for any extended amount of time -- like, say, to peel an apple in the kitchen, let's just say I cannot leave them with any food, especially yogurt or food that can be easily flung through the air and into hair!

Next house WILL have a large eat-in-kitchen, for sure!

bella said...

persistence rules the day.
I once heard Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef) say that many kids need to have a "new" food on their plates twelve times before they will eat it, but to just keep offering. This has seemed to work with Leo.

village mama said...

In Spanish there's a saying 'cada casa es un mundo aparte' = every home is its own world. It's so true, isn't it. Every single family creates its own schedules/rules/superstitions etc. Every family finds its own rhythms, eventually...

It fascinates me to learn/see/experience what families do to navigate every single aspect of life with kids. Thanks for letting us peek into your world.

Shelli said...

Aidan definitely likes his routines, and doing it the same way each time seems to work very well. Although he does well with change too. We can take him out pretty easily.