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Friday, April 13, 2012

Mealtimes with Master 5

Ok, so my diet feels in check (all bar a little overeating on activated nuts and rice cakes). I feel healthy. I feel freaking fantastic really. I can control myself around temptation (Easter was an entirely different experience this year: who knew you could really enjoy just one or two eggs?).

Now I have a bigger challenge on my hands. The diet of my almost-5 year old son (in my mind I am hearing those dom dom  drums of gloom... you?)

I want you to read these and tell me honestly, am I being a neurotic mother?

Master almost-5 started off eating really well - anything we gave him really. But somewhere between 6 and 9 months (while darling husband and I were high-fiving ourselves for getting that element of parenting right), he became a fussy eater (dom dom). 

Now his diet consists of Weetbix (but if I let him have sugar laden Just Right it'd be less of a struggle), grain bread (he'd rather white), cheese on some days (I haven't worked out the formula as to which days he does and which days he doesn't), chicken nuggets, chips and fish fingers (he is almost 5 after all). He'll eat some noodles from out big stir fry cook up (but lordy help me if they are contaminated with the sauce or a shred of bok choy). He'll eat my homemade pita bread pizzas (Hawaiian only), but all the while will be asking when can we have pizzas "from the shop". 

I have managed to convince him that peas, carrots and corn will give him the superpowers of big muscles, seeing in the dark and running fast, so with a lot of help he'll eat them too (but I think given that he still can't lift or run as fast as a car, and apparently he can "see in the dark anyway", my days are numbered.)

He is a good fruit eater.

He won't eat pasta (except one that has since been taken off our weekly menu because it is  high in fat and sugar) and the only red meat I can get him to eat is in the form of a pastie from one particular local shop. So if one more person tells me to lace his spaghetti bolognese with zucchini I'm likely to strangle them with fettuccine.

I've tried all the tricks: making funny faces with the food on the plate, offering foods 15 times over, growing and involving him in our own vegie garden, had him look through recipe books to choose what he'd like, involve him in the cooking, and sending him to bed without dinner (this is our current tactic). It has all, apparently, been in vein. 

He has no problem eating unhealthy foods - packet potato chips, fish and chips-chips, lollies, biscuits and chocolate. He'll gorge on this kind of food. On two occasions he has eaten so much then ran around with typical boyish energy, then vomitted. So naturally, when he is around these type of foods I watch him like a hawk warning him to "not eat too much", "slow down", "maybe that will do...." (This is where the neurotic mother appears). 

I bet this little girl eats her dinner.
Meanest Indian
Attribution 2.0 Generic
(CC BY 2.0)

I am wondering (as I do with my parents' influence on my eating) if I am too strict with the unhealthy foods. By withholding the aforementioned unhealthy foods am I encouraging him to take a hunter-gather approach and stockpile (internally) when he gets the opportunity?  I see other parents freely handing out lollipops and processed foods to their youngsters who then seem to be able to eat half and walk away. 

I just want my son to try a variety of foods (I'd be happy for him to at least try - rather than screw his nose up the minute he sees it!). I want him to balance the good with the bad. I want him to know when he has had enough. I want to send him to bed knowing he has eaten. 

I don't want him to get to his 30's and still believe he doesn't like salmon, lamb, stir fried beef, rice, capsicum, cauliflower, pumpkin, potatoes or spinach....

Any advice (other than the bolognese suggestion?!), or should I just relax and let it happen by example?