HOW I HANDLED MY FUSSY EATER…
Just the other day my daughter and her cousin were going to spend the day at grandma’s. Grandma was excitedly telling me her big plans for them when I had to suddenly cut in. You see, she planned on serving the children rice and plantain in the afternoon but I had to quickly remind her that her wonderful grandchildren didn’t quite understand the concept of eating two different food types at once.
It had to be either rice or plantain. Put the two in a plate and you can be sure that meal time was going to become a drag and they will only end up eating one item and wasting the other or sometimes wasting them both altogether. Agreeing with me, grandma laughed. She had simply gotten carried away trying to please her little darlings.
But I never get carried away because I’ve had my fingers burnt too many times while trying to get too sophisticated at meal time. For my daughter, the simpler is always the better. But still, ‘simpler’ many times meant that she wasn’t getting a balanced diet. So here’s what I did…
I would be using breakfast as my case study here.
My daughter was refusing everything but bread, noodles, fried plantain or chips for breakfast.
Now I assume that everyone should know the dangers of too much frying. So fried plantain and chips had to be drastically cut down on. Also you would agree that it would be very reckless of me to keep stuffing her with noodles all the time. As for the bread, the only way she accepted eating it was plain. As in, apply a paste over it or try making a sandwich out of it and I could be sure it will all end up in the bin. So that left me with giving her plain bread more often than not, every morning.
This was obviously not healthy for any child or even an adult for that matter. So here’s what I did –
1. I got her a special table and plate set which were a perfect fit for her size and age. So meal time became attractive to her whenever she had to pull out her pink, Minnie Mouse table set and fancy plate and cup.
2.I had to remind myself that I am the mom. Growing up, my mom didn’t necessarily always let me have my way. There were many times I did things I didn’t want to do simply because that was what was best for me. Same had to go with my daughter. Eating a nutritious meal wasn’t going to be an option but a necessity for her. So I insisted on introducing cereal into her breakfast timetable but gave her the option of picking which cereals. When she saw that mommy wasn’t laughing, she gradually quit fussing and started spending less and less time finishing up her cereal and the boiled egg I often accompanied it with. So what I did was put my foot down but still let her feel like she is in control by allowing her pick which cereal she wants each morning.
3.Since she is naturally drawn to bread, I kept it on the menu list but included accompaniments. I however did not complicate the bread by piling stuffs on it or making it into a sandwich. I simply kept each accompaniment on a different plate. For example, I could put the bread in one plate, sardine in another plate and maybe gizzard or a boiled egg in yet another plate. Then a cup of beverage is also a must on the table. So breakfast is not over until she had made her rounds and every plate is finally empty.
4.I didn’t totally cut off the noodles, chips and plantains. They are still on the menu list but I ensure that they come in very controlled frequencies.
5.Finally, I and everyone around makes a fuss whenever the plate goes from full to empty. So whenever she is done eating she proudly takes her plate round the house to show everyone what a good girl she actually is. Whether you are visitor or a resident of the house, you will be expected to shower her with hi-fives and lots of praises.
PS. There is usually no ‘leaving the table’ until every plate goes from full to empty.
Is your child a fussy eater? Does he/she have any weird eating habit that frustrates the ‘nutrition’ out of meal time? How do you handle it? Do share your story with us.
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