How many times have we heard that inquiry over the years? More importantly, how many times has the reply been one that brought a cheer instead of a frown attached to a groan? I’ve come to believe that nearly 8 yr old boys can sustain themselves on cheeseburgers, mac and cheese (boxed only), peanut butter on toast and frozen waffles (warmed in the toaster that is).
I try my best not to make meal time a battlefield. It causes stress around a time that should be relaxing and facilitates a reconnection back to the family after a day away. With all the issues many of our children face, the last thing we as parents need to add is an eating disorder! Now I’m not so naive as to think lecturing about why that wilted green thing on your child’s plate is nutritiously good for them will lead to anorexia, however, it certainly won’t foster pleasant memories of time spent around the dinner table.
The Spouse is a man who believes it’s important for kids to have a variety of foods. He touts the nutritional value of different vegetables; the warnings about consuming too much read meat or the benefits of fruits every day. I concur with it all. But try telling all that to a finicky eater as you place an artichoke on his plate! I didn’t eat one until I was over 50. Mainly because I was too embarrassed to ask HOW to eat the darned thing and to be honest it looked like a lot of work for such little pleasure. But I digress.
If you’ve got a picky eater or find yourself on the receiving end of more moans than cheers at the announcement of the dinner menu, try this. Let your child plan the menu for the week with you AND go shopping for it. Give them some input, within reason of course. Chicken or fish on Wednesday? How shall it be cooked? What goes in the salad? Potato or rice? Broccoli or carrots? Try serving fruit with the meal instead of as a dessert. And let them eat it first if they choose. Pull out the good china and stemware. Use the real tablecloth and napkins and ditch the paper. A few tried and true strategies from my dining bag of tricks.
Course the trick really is, always having a new trick at the ready.