As you've probably guessed by most of what I post here, I'm a fairly adventurous eater. I love beautiful, tasty food. I love supporting local farmers, and incorporating lots of vegetables into my diet. I also love the bad-for-you stuff like cake and cookies and ice cream and chocolate, though I have high standards for those things, and try not to waste my calories on the ones that are just sweet, and not toothsome (e.g. high cocoa content dark chocolate with sea salt). I raise my children to know where food comes from, and I cook pretty much all of our meals. Very little of what's in my grocery cart is processed, and a lot of the produce we eat during the summer comes from our farm.
So perhaps you can imagine how difficult it has been for me to wrap my brain around my daughter's approach to food, which is decidedly ambivalent, and even occasionally antagonistic.
Like her brother, N. was interested in food at an early age. I made about 95% of her baby food, which consisted of fresh, and often local, organic vegetables. Her transition to solids, however, was rocky. Now, at age 16 months, she eats black beans, chick peas, broccoli, carrots (with hummus), all manner of fruit, avocados, whole grain waffles, cheerios, fish sticks, and yogurt; most of this she refuses to chew. She won't eat meat (which is fine with me, less fine with my husband). She will rarely even try pasta (a travesty according to S.), and never actually eats any of it. She licks bread and puts it aside. She turns her head from pieces of cheese. She overturns plates, and if she doesn't have a plate, she sweeps things onto the floor with grand hand gestures. She is rarely willing to eat what we are eating for dinner, though that's what I put in front of her every night. She cries inconsolably sometimes when she is presented with her plate of food, as if I have committed some unforgiveable offense.
Some days, I am very patient. I talk with her, I offer options (different utensils? no utensils? condiments? a different venue? a swig of milk to cleanse the palate? is her resistance about asserting independence? is it an issue of texture or bite size?) without changing what's on her plate.
Some days, like today, I completely lose it. I walk out, I try to collect myself. I come back. And finally, I yell.
In my more crazed moments, I think back to Mel's post about being a picky eater. And I try to summon my patience back, try to be more understanding, try to remember that she is ONE, that food is still relatively new to her, that our communication, though improving, is still quite limited, that perhaps she really is just a picky eater, and that all I can do is keep trying.
Cup of Jo posted a review today of the book French Kids Eat Everything. I have never read the book, but I'd like to take issue with the review, and with the fact that the French do everything right (French women also don't get fat, and the "bring up Bebe" better, and who knows all what else).
We do all of the things that Jo says the book suggests. We schedule meals, and eat together (especially at dinner). We offer the kids the things that the adults eat. We don't offer food as a reward/punishment/bribe. We offer vegetables first (though I don't offer "all manner" of vegetables, and my daughter has never once even picked up a piece of carrot salad--one of the options Jo suggests--which I'm sure she would lick and summarily expel from her mouth with her pointy tongue). We don't offer much by way of snacks. We eat as slowly as it takes (last night, it took my son over an hour to eat his dinner).
My daughter is in the lowest quartile of weight for her age group, though in the highest quartile for length. She's a petite little thing. And she is extremely active, even more so than my son ever was. So of course, I worry about making sure that she has enough energy in her to burn. Will she eat something she won't even usually try if she's hungry enough? Perhaps I've never gotten her hungry enough, but so far, the answer is a resounding no. She is a mass of muscle and willpower, which will serve her well in the future, but in the meantime, is testing my resolve.
Children don't come with instruction manuals. They are all different. And when they're pre-verbal, you simply do the best you can to make sure that you are providing them with a good example while making sure that they grow up healthy. I'm invoking the authority of DWYNTD parenting on this one.
I tried these on N. the other night, just to see what would happen. As usual, she refused to touch them (everyone else thought they were just fine), but finally gave in when I put enough ketchup on them, so that she would eat them by mistake while trying to lick the ketchup off of her spoon.
You could even eat them plain.
(And I'd love to hear your thoughts about picky eating, about French child-rearing, or anything else you feel compelled to share.)
adapted from Asparagus to Zucchini
4 kohlrabi, peeled and grated
1 t. salt
1/4 c. spring onions
2 T. panko
1/4 c. corn kernels or diced red pepper (optional)
In a large bowl, salt the peeled and grated kohlrabi, and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
Beat eggs in the bowl, and add the squeezed kohlrabi, along with the remaining ingredients. If the cakes are not looking like they will hold together, add a little flour or more panko.
Heat a griddle or nonstick pan over medium heat, and spray with cooking spray. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned. Serve with yogurt, soy sauce and wasabi, or large quantities of ketchup.