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How do I make food issues a non-issue?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I always swore that food would not be an issue in our family and that my kids could eat whatever they want so long as it's healthy, but I didn't foresee this problem.

It's important to know that we are very poor, so food being wasted in our home is a big issue. But then again, wasting food is probably an issue in many households, simply on principal.

Anyway, my 2.5yo is really getting on my nerves lately. She will ask to eat something and when I get it for her, she will take one bite and then ask for something else. We'll go through a couple of items before I tell her that enough is enough and she has to finish something before she can have something else.

I HATE telling her she has to finish something before she can have more food, but this morning I made her a bagel - uneaten. I can't very well put a toasted bagel with neufchatel cheese back in the fridge. Blech! So I ate it. Then she wanted a banana. One bite. Put the banana down and refused to eat more. So I ate it. Then she wanted crackers, cereal, etc. Anything else.

I am starting to gain weight from all the eating to keep food from being wasted. Some things I can put back in the fridge like fruit and veggies, but not everything. Once that cereal has a little bit of goat milk in it, it's gotta be eaten, you know? Even making small servings doesn't seem to help much.

What would/do you do?
post #2 of 18
DD went through a similar phase. During mealtimes, which we ate together, I'd give her a small portion of whatever I was eating. This way I'm not fixing more of something that could potentially get wasted. Snacks were things that could easily go back in the fridge.

If she chose not to eat it, that was okay with me. But I did not fix something new. She was old enough at that point to make the choice to wait until the next snack or meal (usually only an hour or so away, so not that long of a wait).

I, too, hate making food an issue, but at the same time I can't stand seeing the food and my own effort go to waste. The best thing I've done was stop trying to control how much she ate. I can control what I offer to her and when, and she controls how much.

I also stopped fixing anything special for her that couldn't be put back in the fridge for later. Between that and only serving what DH and I are eating at mealtimes, I was able to put a lid on my frustration.

HTH!
post #3 of 18
Put the bagel with neufchatel back in the fridge, or the banana, whatever. You don't have to eat it. She can have the rest of it when she's hungry again. And don't keep making her a smorgasbord every time her whims change. My mom used to remind us that her kitchen was not Burger King - you don't walk in and place an order, you sit down and eat what she made. If you don't want to eat it, you don't have to, but she's not going to make anything else. By the time the next mealtime came around, you were hungry enough to eat what was served.

One of my brothers used to take two bites of whatever and then walk away from it, and come back a few minutes later to say he was hungry. Mom would tell him he was welcome to the rest of what he started to eat. So he'd nibble at that until it was gone. Taught him not to ask for food he didn't really want, and he also learned to eat at mealtimes with the rest of us.

Mom would also announce at a certain time of night (usually about an hour after dinner) that the kitchen was closing, and anyone who wanted a snack should come get it now. Fifteen minutes later, the kitchen would be closed for the night, and no one could have anything else until the next morning. That way everyone woke up with an appetite for a healthy breakfast.
post #4 of 18
Have you read Ellen Satter? I just got it from the library for different reasons than you (my son is 23 lbs at 30 mos and we are getting lots of flack from our ped about how little he weighs).

But, like you, I was giving him cereal he wouldn't eat, than a banana he wouldn't eat, than a yougurt (and the only full fat yougurt he eats is organic and expensive as heck) he wouldn't eat...and on and on. The waste bugs me to because it seemed so contrary ya know??

The nice thing about Ellen Satter is you plan three meals and two snacks a day. There is a division of repsonsibility-you are responsible for the what, when and where, and the kid is responsible for whether and how much. It has taken so much stress out of our mealtimes.

So, if she refuses what you offer she doesn't get anything else until the next snack. That would solve come of your issues-in two days our son realized nothing else was forthcoming so he started to eat what was served.

Also, when my son is in a contrary mood I will offer cheerios w/out milk. I will put his milk in a glass instead. That way if he refuses his cereal I can put it back, or give it to him as a snack later.

I don't want food to be a battle. I don't have time or the inclination to be a short order cook. I don't want or have time to offer him 16 different things at 16 times a day on the off chance he might eat. I KNEW these things yet still allowed myself to be drawn into a guessing what my son will eat game. Or, a begging my son to eat game. Or a not what I want, I want this and not eat it game.

I am a new member, and I do wonder if Ellen Satter is a little to rigid for some here. So your mileage may vary. For us though it was very helpful in terms of eating and having much less food go to waste.
post #5 of 18
With bananas and apples, we just save them for oatmeal or muffins. Most of our available snack foods are things that you can eat part of and put back, like hummus, beans, cheese, triscuts, grapes or berries, tomatoes or cold leftover meat. Most of our snacks DD, almost 5, can just get for herself and has been since about 2. I don't really keep up with how many times a day she is eating. We do have meals and I offer when I'm fixing something but she usually just eats when she wants to, on her own. The few things I cook, like eggs, DD usually eats. At 2.5 DD probably wouldn't have eaten more than a few bites of a bagel. I made really small portions until she was 3.5 or so, like a eighth of a bagel. It's easier to fix more than unfix something. We have avoided letting food be an issue and we don't have much waste.
post #6 of 18
We do meals and snacks together. Three meals, two or three snacks. Take it or leave it, but I'm not a short order cook, never have been.

I think your only other alternative (and you could actually do the same but instead of structured snacks, do this) is what ssh recommends, and just leave out some not-very-perishable snacks.

If you have to get the food, and she gets to decide where, when, how, it is setting yourself up for this to be a limit-testing ground and I agree that's not where you want to be with food.
post #7 of 18
Make a chart about what you're eating that day... put out a bowl or something of the snacks she can choose from for the day, let her know this is what we're eating today, this is what we have, get her excited about it... if she refuses something, she's probably not really hungry and using food as entertainment or trying to treat something else... maybe she's actually dehydrated rather than hungry, it can be hard for kids & adults to make that distinction... or maybe she's tired or just antsy/bored.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
With bananas and apples, we just save them for oatmeal or muffins. Most of our available snack foods are things that you can eat part of and put back, like hummus, beans, cheese, triscuts, grapes or berries, tomatoes or cold leftover meat. Most of our snacks DD, almost 5, can just get for herself and has been since about 2. I don't really keep up with how many times a day she is eating. We do have meals and I offer when I'm fixing something but she usually just eats when she wants to, on her own. The few things I cook, like eggs, DD usually eats. At 2.5 DD probably wouldn't have eaten more than a few bites of a bagel. I made really small portions until she was 3.5 or so, like a eighth of a bagel. It's easier to fix more than unfix something. We have avoided letting food be an issue and we don't have much waste.
Especially to the bolded bits.
post #9 of 18
I have a stupid question....

My boys are little, but eat a lot of table and finger foods. A lot. Most days, I eat a lunch of leftovers from dinner the previous night. Which is fine, but sometimes, there's like only one small serving. Any stay at home moms... when you're eating leftovers, what do the kids eat? It's starting to become a problem that they want what I have... but then if I make something for all of us, then the leftovers don't get eaten - augh.
post #10 of 18
I think the only way to make it a totally non-issue is to prepare food in mini portions until she is bigger.

I found that Benjamin would fight me at first insisting he wanted a three pancakes for example and then would only eat one, or that he really wanted a whole apple and if I cut into pieces he was "never going to eat apples again!", and it was a struggle, very trying on my patience. But I stayed firm, one slice of apple, or no apple. And I froze banana chunks on toothpicks in the freezer for teeny nanner-pops (really yummy BTW when dipped in chocolate or peanut butter )

Making snacks bite sized really helps.

When he absolutely insisted on having a two slices of bread sandwich, I let him know that IF I made him a sandwich (or a bagel, or a bowl of cereal, or any snack that was more than a bite or two) he would need to finish it or wait until the next meal. It involved a few tearful fits, but since about five years old we have not had many arguments over food wasting.

I have a real bee in my bonnet about wasting food. I can use a half a banana, or six egg yolks from hard boiled eggs. I will make use of left over pasta and just about anything, but prepared foods, like jam sandwiches, or bowls of cereal...that just really gets under my skin. Once in a while, we all over pour a bowl of cereal, but when it becomes an everyday thing, or a five-hundred times a day thing...
post #11 of 18
I also just remembered reading somewhere that a toddler can be overwhelmed with the amount of food on a plate and won't eat because of that. Something in their makeup says Whoa! That's too much! I would try the smaller portions for awhile and see if that might solve the problem.
post #12 of 18
We just started putting out small plates, each with only one type of food. Dd (3 yo) can select what she wants and put it on her plate. For example, today for lunch I made salad with chicken breast and baked sweet potato french fries for dh and myself. In the center of the table I put cheese cubes on one small plate, green pepper cut into strips on another, mushrooms on a plate, sweet potato french fries on their own plate, and sliced hard boiled egg on another plate. Dd didn't touch the fries but ate quite a bit of everything else, which was a victory since she has been resisting eating at meal times. I think it's because she's been overwhelmed with the amount of food on her personal plate.

Mostly I only serve small plates of food that I'm already cooking for everyone else and can use up easily if she doesn't eat it. I don't think I would offer small plates with food like pb&j or bagels with cream cheese that can't be put back in the fridge without getting soggy and weird.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalaRei View Post
I have a stupid question....

My boys are little, but eat a lot of table and finger foods. A lot. Most days, I eat a lunch of leftovers from dinner the previous night. Which is fine, but sometimes, there's like only one small serving. Any stay at home moms... when you're eating leftovers, what do the kids eat? It's starting to become a problem that they want what I have... but then if I make something for all of us, then the leftovers don't get eaten - augh.
I send the leftovers along with my husband to have for his lunch at work.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hakeber View Post
And I froze banana chunks on toothpicks in the freezer for teeny nanner-pops (really yummy BTW when dipped in chocolate or peanut butter )
Oh my gosh, I LOVE this nanner-pops idea! Thanks so much!
post #15 of 18
At right about that age I cleared out a low cabinet and a little space on the bottom shelf of the fridge (marked off with a tupperware box) and started stocking them with ready-to-go, healthy foods that DD could serve herself. I controlled what went in there in the first place, and some things were portioned too, but she felt like she had total autonomy to go and choose her own snack when she was hungry. She thought it was the coolest thing in the world, you could tell she felt very grown up and special. We'd still do regular mealtimes together and there I agree with others, as long as I was making things I knew she liked/could eat, then it was "take it or leave it".

I think the "I want it - I don't want it!" stuff at that age has as much to do with testing your limits and reactions as it does with asserting independence and control, so if you can take you out of the equation maybe that would eliminate the testing. That setup only lasted maybe a couple of months, and then the phase was passed and onto the next issue.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by apmama07 View Post
I think the "I want it - I don't want it!" stuff at that age has as much to do with testing your limits and reactions as it does with asserting independence and control, so if you can take you out of the equation maybe that would eliminate the testing. That setup only lasted maybe a couple of months, and then the phase was passed and onto the next issue.
SOOOO true!

I have read on here about some moms doing a sort of sectioned tray like an ice cube tray filled with wee things that the kids could nibble from, like nuts, raisins, apple pieces, grapes, cheese, whatever, just an array of healthy stuff and that was the snack tray for the day and they could pick from it as they liked.

I always loved the sound of it, but at the time we were facing this phase we were living in Costa Rica and due to ant issues we could not leave snacks out for grazing or he'd be getting a side order of venemos critters with his nibblies.
post #17 of 18
I think at that age it is a bit of a phase. Can you give her a small amount when ever she asks for anything. I know in my house it changed into the battle of half vs whole banana but after a while they accepted the change. I even started giving DH half a sandwich at lunch and then giving him the second half when he finished just so they could understand that it wasn't personal, we get more food if we are still hungry.
post #18 of 18
I have a bag in my freezer that all half-eaten bananas, broken into smaller pieces, go into. I use them in smoothies. Other types of fruit go in there, too. Cereals with milk can also be frozen and put in smoothies.

I make smoothies based on yoghurt, bananas, and other fruit, and add oats, sunflower seeds and other seeds, strawberries, blueberries, other berries, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, olive oil, raisins, whatever I can think of. My kids love them, but visiting kids that are used to sweet smoothies often don't.
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