This is lunch. Take it or Leave it.


"When you are big and have your own house, you can live on Doritos. Until then, EAT YOUR DANG GREEN BEANS!"

 

Oh, food battles. How they tire me. Do you ever feel like your kid is going to survive solely on air and Nilla Wafers? Yeah. We have that problem here too. Food is a battle at times and not just for Diva, for me as well. I was an impossibly picky eater as a child and while I have worked REALLY hard to change my eating habits as an adult, I still don’t eat all of what I should be eating all the time.

Case in point: lunch today.

What do I want: Grilled cheese sandwich, barbeque chips and Dr. Pepper.

What do I make myself eat: Pesto Panini, leftover rosemary roasted vegetables and Dr. Pepper

When asking Diva what she wants to eat you are bound to get a variety of answers from: “fwench fwies” to “carrots!” to “Mmmmm, let’s see. CUPCAKE!”

I try to give Diva a choice with meals. It helps a lot. She also helps me cook most things because she, like any kid, wants to be in on the action! Sometimes, I give in to her silly demands and we have really unhealthy meals…like Easy Mac, chocolate milk and toast, but most of the time, I am a one option mama. TAKE it or LEAVE it. If I have to eat healthy to show her how to be healthy, then dangit she is going to have to eat it too! She doesn’t want it? Fine. No problem. But no snack either. It may seem cruel but actually it works quite well. My child is not starving but she does get a choice. She can eat lunch that she helped make, or she can choose not to. I am not a short-order cook (unless she is sick, then she can have whatever she wants. Poor sicky-poo!)

The reason for this brief breakdown of our eating habits stems from an article I read on Yahoo! News (article here: http://news.yahoo.com/teen-collapses-eating-mostly-chicken-nuggets-214300408.html) about a 17 year old who collapsed after surviving on CHICKEN NUGGETS for 15 YEARS! Her mother reportedly “tried” to get the girl to eat healthier but the child would not eat anything but Chicken Nuggets from age 2 on.

Huh.

This blows my mind.

But wait! It gets better! In the article, fast food joints are blamed for the addictive nature of their foods.

HOLD THE PHONE. Let’s recap.

  1. Teenager collapses in a mess of unhealthiness because of diet comprising solely of “Chicken Nuggets”
  2. Parent of teenager encouraged and allowed this diet to become a problem…for 15 years
  3. Someone had to buy the chicken nuggets in order for the kid to eat them unless this is also a sting operation of a chicken nugget thief
  4. It’s McDonald’s fault.

I will be the first one to argue that McD’s, Toxic Hell and other fast food joints are TERRIBLE for you. I would never advocate a diet that includes their food as a major component EVER. I often feel icky after eating fast food because the food is just…bad. After watching SuperSizeMe (and trying not to vomit) I will also agree that the food served at fast food joints IS addictive when consumed in mass quantities. There are no real redeeming qualities other than road trips when you are tired of eating Gardettos from 7/11 and you really just want an order of fries from Wendy’s.

Seriously. FAST FOOD = BAD.

But those evils aside, HOW is it McDonald’s fault that this young woman has significant health problems from not eating a fruit or vegetable for 15 years? Was she part of a secret study in which McD’s force fed her McNuggets to see what happens? Did the parents win a voucher program contest that allowed them a lifetime supply of Chik’n? DO THEY OWN A CLUCK CLUCK FARM?

No. This is an example of giving up and giving in parenting. We all do it. That horrid day when nothing is going right and so you let your kid watch 2 hours of Dora and eat all your tostitos while you camp out on the couch with an ice pack on your head and muttering yoga chants to see if you can drown out “D-d-d-d-d-d DORA THE EXPLORER”. Yeah. We’ve all been there. But this is 15 YEARS of giving up!

At the risk of oversimplifying what is probably a complex family dynamic issue, I have to wonder why they chose this. Was it laziness? It is easier to just give the kid what they want so they stop the incessant whining. True statement. Was it apathy? “Kids will be kids.” Was it denial? “It’s just a phase!” or was it something deeper? The social worker in me really, really wants to know how the thought process came about in these parents heads. I bet it came about slowly and snuck up on them, like this:

  • Baby Nugget is born. Happy Nugget Baby.
  • Baby Nugget grows into Demanding Toddler Nugget. Less happy stages.
  • Toddler Nugget learns “NO!” and suddenly says “NO!” to everything, including dinner.
  • Parents of Nugget are really, really tired and Toddler Nugget senses this so pitches a royal snit fit that gives Mama Nugget a migraine.
  • Toddler Nugget decides to go on a food strike. No real reason other than Nugget likes to see action/reaction come to life.
  • Mama Nugget freaks out and can’t get Toddler Nugget to eat ANYTHING. Oh No. People will think that she is a bad mother. Toddler Nugget will lose weight. She will waste away. EAT TODDLER NUGGET EAT! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD EAT SOMETHING.
  • Toddler Nugget likes Chicken Nuggets. Will break food strike for chicken nuggets.
  • Mama Nugget: OH THANK GOD SHE IS EATING AGAIN. Chicken is good for you, right? It has protein…and bread….and crumbly things. WIN ONE FOR CHICKEN NUGGETS!
  • Toddler Nugget: Ooohhh I like Chicken Nuggets. I only want chicken nuggets. GIVE THEM TO ME NOW!
  • Mama Nugget: Ok, baby. (this is just a phase, right?!)
  • Toddler Nugget turns into Kid Nugget and Tween Nugget and Teen Nugget. All without the help of lovely things like bananas or spinach. She is a NUGGET MIRACLE!
  • Teen Nugget collapse. Her tongue is swollen from sodium levels. She is anemic. Bad things for Teen Nugget.
  • Mama Nugget gets her name in international press for being the Mama that fed her Nugget McNugget’s her ENTIRE LIFE.
  • Mama Nugget, embarrassed at the ridiculousness of her Nuggets eating habits, blames the Nugget creator to save face. It’s not the person who feeds the food, it’s the DAMN FOOD TO BEGIN WITH! Right?

What went wrong, Mama Nugget? WHAT WENT WRONG?

Here’s a different scenario for you:

  • Toddler Nugget starts food strike. Demands Chicken Nuggets. Lasagna is for dinner that night.
  • Serve Lasagna.
  • Toddler Nugget refuses to eat it. Wants chicken nuggets.
  • Say no. Put the garlic salt on the lasagna and tell her “this is chicken nugget sauce.”
  • Toddler Nugget eats two bites. Win.
  • Next day, repeat with whatever you had planned for dinner.
  • Remember the rule that Toddler Nugget will test boundaries but is unlikely to truly starve herself.
  • Let her have her Nuggets periodically, because she likes them. But not every day.
  • THEY WILL EAT EVENTUALLY.

(This has been tried and true in my house, thanks to an obsessive love of Nilla Wafers that Diva has. They have become a negotiating tool. “Eat your green beans.” “No, nilla!” “When you are done with your green beans, you can have a Nilla.” BOOM green beans gone. Action. Reaction.

Food battles are hard and frankly, so is parenting. I still battle my food demons and I probably always will. The important thing about parenting though, is to keep your eye on the big picture. Win the war, not just every battle. Sometimes, it IS a chicken nugget/nilla wafer day. There is NO shame in that. But you have to pick yourself up, dust off the battle wounds and get back out there to fight the next day. Why? Because your kid is depending on you. They need you to help them learn about life and you need to do your darndest to keep them healthy. You can’t FORCE them to eat and (my parents will attest to this) some things they really will hate forever. (Okra. I HATE YOU.) but giving in and allowing them to dictate their own path when it is deeply harmful cannot be good. They will make plenty of choices throughout life. Allow them to make the choice at your table too. “Take it or leave it. It’s what’s for dinner.”

When they ask why, my favorite response is, “It’s the fun part of being a parent. Secretly plotting out how to torture you with healthy food. I stay up at night thinking of new recipes to TORTURE YOU.” (My Diva has mastered the best dubious “Whatever!” look whenever my inner snarky beast raises it’s fun and evil head.) She knows. She accepts. 75% of the time…she eats too.

Peace, love, and lima beans,

Bekah

Comments
2 Responses to “This is lunch. Take it or Leave it.”
  1. JDazzo says:

    I use the same method with my 2 year old! This is dinner. Don’t want it? ok, then you’re done. It works amazingly well. She’ll eat what’s in front of her if she’s hungry. But if given the choice, she would live off of fruit and fruit alone. What toddler would CHOOSE to eat a healthy balanced meal? Its up to us to give them what they need. nice post. keep writing. It made me LOL several times.

    • simply.bekah says:

      I have been told by several that it is ‘taking away her independence’ to use this method but I wholeheartedly agree with you. She eats healthy, she is happy. I must be doing something right!! Thanks for stopping by! I try to post a couple times a week so stop by again to see what other shenanigans are happening over here!

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