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Food and power struggles with 3 year old--need HELP!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

delete please

Edited by mamaharrison - 8/11/12 at 10:11am
post #2 of 11

I'm sorry mamaharrison!  It sounds like your family is going through some really rough times.  To me, it sounds like you need to address a few issues:


1.  Your husband and you should be on the same page with respect to food.  Maybe you could come to an agreement so that he doesn't bring home the junk food and give it to your daughter.  If she sees him eating it, then it doesn't make sense to her why she can't have the same thing.  Maybe he could eat the junk food when he's out of the house, and then model better eating habits at home.  It does sound hard for her to watch her parents eat one type of food and then she has the other one.  Maybe you can find meals that all of you can eat together. 


2.  Plan your meals ahead so that they are healthy, cheap, non-processed and are dairy/gluten free.  Here are a few ideas that we use when we're on a budget:  lots of dry pinto beans, and dry kidney beans, stone ground corn tortillas (certain types are high in calcium - check the label.  Trader Joe's has them for 99 cents a dozen), potatoes (maybe your daughter would like them cut up like french fries and roasted), dry red chiles made into red chile sauce for beans or enchiladas (you serve it to the side so that your daughter won't have the spicy food, but you and your husband can have some flavor), dry lentils, rice, big bags of organic carrots, onions, canned tomatoes, tofu (you can get high calcium tofu, too.)  Stews and soups last for awhile and can be less expensive to make.


Depending on where you live, you can also harvest some wild food to give you more nutrients during pregnancy.  I like dandelion greens (sometimes they grow really big near streams) - they're easy to identify and harvest and they taste really good sauteed in a little bit of olive oil.  Some other wild foods we sometimes eat - prickly pear (use tongs and then rub the prickers off with a towel), volunteer apples, apricots and cherries, wild raspberries, thimble berries, chokecherries, lambsquarter.  Just be sure that you have a good handle on the identification of such plants....My very picky kids get excited about the harvesting and eat a lot, even though they wouldn't normally like such strong tasting foods.


3.  Stay calm when she won't eat the food that you put on the table.  I've been through this too with my daughter (for about a week this summer, I swear, all she ate was turnips, peaches, and popsicles), eventually she comes back to food.  It always makes the problem worse if I get mad at her about it.  I just have to seal my lips and not stock the junk food. 


Best of luck to you Mama! 

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thssanks for the thoughful reply. I know you are trying to help and that is very appreciated.

By Junk food, I mean, that is what we eat now as meals because our budget only affords so much food and we have to buy non organic, GMO blah blah blah junky food--that isn't a choice, it is a reality. We live in Florida, so we do have a year round growing season, but we do not have any money or resources to start an edible garden. I would love for that to be an option, but we struggle to pay our electric bill monthly. So, as far as food choices go, we are doing the best we can with what we have and that isn't much--WIC isn't something we can turn away anymore, so, we are eating the 'junk' they give us--cheese, bread, milk {YUCK!} and preparing our meals with those ingredients. There is simply no way to feed our familiy dairy and gluten free for our budget. ALso, I should be clear DH isn't eating this junk food because he wants to or likes to, but he was raised VERY poor and so is no stranger to this and basically was willing to make the sacrifice right off the bat knowing that it was most important for DD and my pregnant self to get as best a quality of food as we could. So, again, this is not a choice for us. Food banks really don't have 'healthy' food--even the ones that have produce are kinda gross--bruised, battered, rotting fruits and veggies aren't exactly 'healthy'--to me this is junk food. It is what we have and I am thankful, but let's face it--it isn't optimal and it certainly isn't what we are used to. 

It doesn't matter what I cook, my DD won't eat it. Literally, all she will eat at this point is bread {gluten} and cheese--even if I include those things in a meal, she will either refuse the meal altogether or pick out the bread and/or cheese. I do plan my meals ahead, but no matter how you plan $300 in FS and WIC doesn't really stretch too far--my hubs is a giant 6'6'' and 300lbs, so, feeding him is quite an ordeal. When we were vegetarians the amount of veggies and fruit he needed to eat was insane. 

So, mostly, I was posting looking for resources to cope with this issue. Like links to articles or good info or what has worked for others or books that can teach me step by step stretegies of dealing with this issue at every meal/throughout the day because this has been way longer than a week and she is not coming back to food {I would be ecstatic if she only ate turnips and peaches for a whole week! I make her frozen green smoothie popcicles and she won't even eat those.}

The food isn't going to change. We have to be happy for what we do have even if it is not something we would necessarily chose for ourselves if we had more resources. So, rice chex in the morning is better than nothing basically {which is REALLY hard for me to swallow, but believe me when I wasn't eating that wasn't good for anyone}.

I really do appreciate the kindness in your post. Just looking for actual resources. I know that staying calm is key, but I need to know how in the world to do that when this has been going on for months with no end in sight and is dramatically affecting our whole household in such a negative way. I am starting to become very resentful and angry about it and that doesn't equal calm ; )

post #4 of 11
It sounds like you need a better income. What does your husband do for a living, what is his background and training? Would you move if he could get better work elsewhere? Or get the same pay in an area with a lower cost of living. Where do you live? Can you houseshare to lower expenses and have more money for food? If you don't want to put such personal info on a thread, I understand. I'm just thinking that someone may have an idea, or even know about a better job.

Maybe there should be job listings here on MDC.

Edited to add: my husband worked as an inventory specialist for a few years. We barely made ends meet, but the manager gets a company car and $30,000 a year salary (east coast). I think they just required an aptitude test to see if the applicant has the skills necessary to be likely to learn the job. If you're near a city, there is probably an inventory company. Employment is year round.

I'm trying to think of other employment opportunities without knowing his background. Do you have family that could help you out for a while? One possibility would be to move in with someone to stretch the dollars. If the possibilities are out of town you and the children could go and your husband could live sonewhere cheaper and visit on weekends until a better opportunity arises.
Edited by pek64 - 8/9/12 at 10:09pm
post #5 of 11

I can offer some suggestions on where to get fruits and veg.  My friends help to pack food into boxes from local farms for their CSA and get a share plus bonus food once a week.  Here is a link to CSAs in Fla... http://find.mapmuse.com/directory/csa/fl


When I was struggling, before I had a family even, I would go to our natural grocers and health food stores to get the culled produce for our chickens and goats.  When I got home I would separate it all into piles:  food for us, for the goats, for the chickens, and for the compost.  Once we got a whole box of bananas that were perfect, but would be over ripe tomorrow.  So we ate a couple and threw the rest in the freezer for banana bread and smoothies (peel them first for smoothies -side note).  It's not very glamorous, but it got me way more fruit and veg than I could afford, and it helped with the animals as well.


Now my SO works at Whole Foods and they donate tons of food to the Food Depot and Kitchen Angels here.  So, if you haven't been to the food bank in your area before or in awhile, try it you might find a loaf of gluten free bread or organic apples.


Also, the farmers market here doubles your money if you are using food stamps, which to me is like 'Free Money'!  I know that everything there is a lot more expensive, but you could be very selective and just get a couple of things.  Oh, and go at the end of the day when the farmers are more likely to stuff your bag so they don't have to drag it home with them.  *Our farmers market also donates a lot to the food bank here.


Do you have any friend with fruit trees or berry bushes?  Sometimes the novelty of picking their own is enough to get a kid munching on fruit, and it can help out a friend or neighbor who is sick of fruit rotting all over their backyard.


As far as getting you LO to eat... if she is on a bread kick, can you slather it with something to make it more healthful, or more of a meal (nut butter, hummus, pesto, black bean spread)?  Can you put cheese all over sweet potatoes?  Is it food, or the mealtime she is resisting?  Do you think she could be sensing your stresses about food and be reacting to that?  I wish I had more experience with this aspect of your dilemma.  It sounds really stressful, especially during pregnancy. 


Good luck Mama!  I hope some of this helps!

post #6 of 11

This is my favourite website on nutrition, I hope you'll find answers there: http://www.ellynsatter.com/how-to-feed-i-24.html

"Avoid Pressure

Pressure on children's eating always backfires. Keep in mind that all children are more-or-less picky about food. Trying to get a child to eat more than she wants makes her eat less. Trying to get her to eat less than she wants makes her eat more. Trying to get her to eat certain foods makes her avoid them. Trying to get her to be neat and tidy makes her messy. Putting up with negative behavior in hopes she will eat makes her behave badly but not eat.

  • Pressure can seem positive: Praising, reminding, bribing, rewarding, applauding, playing games, talking about nutrition, giving stickers, going on and on about how great the food is, making special food.
  • Pressure can be negative: Restricting amounts or types of food, coaxing, punishing, shaming, criticizing, begging, withholding dessert, treats, or fun activities, physically forcing, threatening.
  • Pressure can seem like good parenting: Reminding her to eat or to taste, making her eat her vegetables, warning her that she will be hungry, making special food, keeping after her to use her silverware or napkin, hiding vegetables in other foods, letting her eat whenever she wants to between meals.
  • Pressure can be hard to detect: Ask yourself why you are doing something with feeding. Is it to get your child to eat more, less or different food than he does on his own? If so, it is pressure."
post #7 of 11

Awesome website, transylvaniamom!  I just read through it, and it was really helpful to me.  The part about the division of responsibility between child and parent makes a lot of sense.  I don't have to feel responsible for how much or if she eats?!?  What a freeing idea. 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I only needed help with the specific issue--getting my DD to eat food she is not allergic to. I appreciate all the time and concern that mamas showed here, but I found it too off base and it just didn't give me what I was looking for.

Edited by mamaharrison - 8/11/12 at 10:15am
post #9 of 11
As someone with food allergies, I can tell you it is easy to cross contaminate without realizing. That means that your child is possibly getting small quanities of the allergen daily. That will make her irritable, whiny, cranky, and more stubborn than usual. My first response was written when I was recovering from a contamination. It was sharper than I prefer to be.

All of you have a great deal of stress right now. Please keep an open mind ans see if among all that was offered there is something helpful.

If you can approach the situation from a view that your child is not deliberately adding to the stress by misbehaving, you should have more success in keeping her fed.

I'm sorry the tone of my replies was harsh. It comes from adrenaline and concern for a child who is struggling right now. You, too, are struggling. What can we do to help you?
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by dovey View Post

Awesome website, transylvaniamom!  I just read through it, and it was really helpful to me.  The part about the division of responsibility between child and parent makes a lot of sense.  I don't have to feel responsible for how much or if she eats?!?  What a freeing idea. 

I know! I was recommended one of Ellyn Satter's books when I was worried about dd's overeating. It's amazing how well it works. As soon as I put the structure of meals in place and stopped letting the kids graze, they come happy at the table, eat until they're full and don't beg for food between meals.


I hope OP finds something useful on that website; I used to have a somewhat similar problem in trying to get ds to eat more meat (he used to survive on salads and fruits only), and it backfired big time. He wouldn't eat anything at mealtime and came back begging for treats as soon as we had finished eating. Now that I'm not asking him to take "one more bite" if he wants desert, our meals are much more pleasant.

post #11 of 11
It's difficult to give better advise now that post 1 is gone. In post 3 you say all she's eating is bread (gluten) and cheese (dairy). If those are the foods she is allergic to, then she will be difficult to reason with. One of the strange things about a food allergy is the adrenaline response. It kicks the immune system into higher gear, and provides a 'high'. Then the person crashes after not getting the offending food. Depending on how long the person was exposed, the crash could be brief or long (the crash matches exposure length). And it is common for young children to only want the offending food.

I hope with a clearer understanding of what your daughter is experiencing, you can get a better plan for helping all of you.
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