As you know, Courtney and I are busy people. We’re both in school (me 9 credits, Courtney 15), work (me 40+ hours/week), and have a four-year-old-going-on-fifteen.
We’re both also very health-conscious people. We’ve taken classes on nutrition, and spent many free hours researching our own curiosities on high fructose corn syrup, additives, etc… So imagine our frustrations over the last year when Auden’s main meals consisted of mac n cheese, pizza, and spaghetti.
Sure, he would still eat some fruits and vegetables, but the problem was he wouldn’t even try anything new. It was a 10-minute battle, and he would usually gag on it and spit it out. Needless to say, when you’re at Olive Garden with friends and your kid goes all exorcist on the chicken, we’ve got a problem.
So, how do you get your kid to try new foods, and like them? And healthy foods at that? Well, first of all it takes time. The Olive Garden episode happened on New Years Eve. It’s now the beginning of September, and Auden is finally coming around to eating right. So the first step is commitment. You’ve got to want it, and you can’t give in.
The second step is the give and take. We have a baby sitter, and Auden spends a lot of time at Grandparents and friends houses where we can’t control his diet. That’s not to say that they can’t take him out for the occasional McDonalds or make him some mac n cheese. He’s a kid, and kids have a predisposition to crave salty and sweet foods – more so than adults.
But Courtney and I controlled what we could control. That meant when he was with us, he ate what we ate. No questions. And it started out small and with a lot of retaliation. He would sit there and stare at the salmon, sushi, or rice pilaf we put in front of him for a good ten minutes before picking up his fork. But eventually, he would try a bite.
Once he realized what was on his plate was dinner and there would be no food or snacks later, he would cave. And it took a good month for this to really take hold. The third step was the routine. And once he figured out it wasn’t snack time when he got home from the babysitters and would have to wait two hours before dinner, he welcomed whatever we put in front of him.
Thanks to our subscription boxes, we’ve been enjoying some great meals of late with minimum work on our part. The other night, (care of Peach Dish) Auds ate endive salad, salmon in a dijon-dill sauce, and sun-dried tomato orzo – no questions asked. For desert? fresh raspberries.
And that’s the last step: rewards shouldn’t be candy or ice cream, but fruits and naturally sweet foods. The other night, we went to a local Mexican-food restaurant. Since Auden had eaten a good lunch and had been really good that day, we told him he could have whatever he wanted to drink for dinner (not soda. Never soda. He usually chooses chocolate milk or apple juice when given the choice). But he said to the waitress (and I quote) “I’ll just have the water. I’ve had enough sugar today.” Courtney and I shared an under-the-table fist bump, and that’s parenting for the win.
Auden being a salmon – or doing duck lips, we can’t be sure.