Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Stand-Off

Harris doesn't like vegetables. I know that this is not necessarily a new phenomena in the toddler world, but I am just baffled. I did my research. I know about "making it fun" with "ants on a log" and fun little cookie cutter shapes. I know about the concept of hiding veggies in your child's smoothie. I think that the smoothie concept is brilliant in order to make sure they get their full 10,000 servings, but I still want my kid to know what a real vegetable tastes like. It has been a wretched struggle. To date, the only vegetable that Harris will eat willingly are carrots. And they have to be raw. Now, that is cause to celebrate, right? He LIKES a vegetable! That rocks! But I feel that his horizons need to be broadened a bit, don't you think? Well, I do.

So, I thought to myself that maybe I should try the "you don't get to eat anything until you eat your vegetables" trick. We tried for three nights in a row, to no avail. All three nights, Harris went to bed without a lick of dinner, and seemed perfectly content. I was baffled. 3 nights in a row. So then, I thought that it was time for a serious intervention. I was done messing around with 1 piddly meal. If I was going to do this, I had to do it hardcore. And I think you know where this is going... 

No breakfast until you eat a vegetable. 
No lunch until you eat a vegetable.
No dinner until you eat a vegetable.

So, for a moment, I second- guessed my decision to be a jerk caring mother to my child. Then I did a quick search to make sure that I was not the first meanie caring mother to think of this.

The day started off okay. I told Harris that in order to get breakfast, he would have to try 1 edemame bean. God, what torture right?! Who doesn't like edemame? With a tiny salt? Yummy!

No Go.

He wouldn't go near it to save his life. When I reminded him that he was not going to be able to eat anything until he tried it, he totally jived with it, and said "I know Ima, I have to eat my edamommy bean first!" Then he would scamper off and play.

Snack time rolled around... no beans...
Lunch time rolled around... no beans...
At about 3pm he got pretty whimpery. I couldn't blame him, the poor kid was hungry! So, I decided it was time to break out the options. I brought out some fresh cauliflower. I figured, he only likes carrots raw, maybe the white color and pleasant crunch will entice him! Not a chance. I brought out some sweet peas. He went running for the hills. Then Mindi made some TO DIE FOR creamed spinach, and he was DONE with all of this vegetable crap.

Look at what he was up against! For God's sake! 1 Damn soybean! 3 TINY PEAS! 1 minuscule chunk of cauliflower, and one tiny spoon of spinach! Look at the horror on his face!

He sat there, watching the 3 of us eat. He cried. I felt a little quivery in my chin. My eye sockets were burning. But what could I do? Rules are rules. AND, the article above did say that he wouldn't starve to death! *Sigh*
The pizza that we made had spinach on the crust. In the olden days, I would not have mentioned it, and hoped that he wouldn't notice. This time, I made a show of it. He was, after all, eyeballing his pizza desperately, and I needed him to know that there was spinach on it. He said he wanted it. I gave him a tiny slice.

He was in heaven.
I was relieved.

"Good job Harris! See? Spinach is yummy! Now try some creamed spinach!" More tears... bring on the waterworks. 

So then, with the help of Harris, we came up with this idea- the "plop on top":

And down the hatch it went. I managed to convince him that since a little tiny bit of spinach was good, a bit more on each piece was even better! He agreed as he gobbled down every last bit of his cheese, sausage, and spinach pizza.

Then he had a piece of "neatloaf" (Mindi's AWESOME vegetarian meatloaf), an apple and a bowl of ice cream. He was making up for lost time for sure.

Now, I wish that I could say that we made it over a hump tonight. Surely, I had considered previously that by incorporating these veggies into dishes that he likes, we could potentially have better luck. However, while this may seem like a no-brainer to many, we are feeding a boy who, while he loves the neatloaf with a passion, if he sees the smallest bit of bell pepper inside will pretty much refuse to eat it. I figured that by dropping a load of spinach on top of his beloved pizza, I was simply giving the dinner a death sentence. I am glad that I was proved wrong.

My hope is that I won't have to starve him all day in order to get him to try something new. Besides what I mentioned above, does anyone else have any tips from the trenches? Any similar stories? Any other MEAN caring mothers out there?

Am I going to get a visit from CPS for this?

To Be Continued...


  1. Will he eat broccoli with cheese drizzled on it? Or raw broccoli,Cali and carrotts with a ranch dressing dipping sauce? Beets with wavy slices of sweet pickles mixed in?

    Lots of watching Popeye the Sailor man had my sisters and i eating spinach by the truck load with boiled egg slices in it.

    Little kid size baked sweet potato halfed with mini marshmallows melty on top.

    Maybe a salsa made up of veggies and sweet fruits like pineapple. Paula Dean made one on her show i thought would taste delicious she got while in Barbados i think.

  2. Hi! I think I'm a first time commenter, but I occasionally read and love what you write! I just had to chime in and say that I think this was my favorite thing I've read all week. :) Those photos were just priceless!! I don't have any tips, my daughter is 13 months old and loves veggies...but it's fruit that we've been struggling to get her to eat. (I know, so mind-boggling!) Finally, after 2 weeks of not ingesting a single fruit, she stole blueberries off of a friends highchair tray, and proceeded to stuff them in her mouth so that he couldn't have any. And in the last 3 days she's eaten a serving of blueberries with each meal!

    I know they say it takes several exposures to a food before some kids will like them. Maybe you could make a chart and let him mark off each time he tries something, with the promise that once he reaches X amount of tries that veggie will be out of rotation for a while. You are so crafty, I'm sure you can make up something that would excite him!

    A family I knew used to let their children use "sprinkles" to shake onto their vegetables. Basically they put garlic powder, dried basil, etc. in little shaker bottles and the kids loved the choice of picking what "sprinkle" to use! Apparently it worked like magic. Good luck! I can't wait to read more!

  3. Malea- The brocolli with cheese sounds awesome to me, but I have visions of harris picking or scooping off the cheese bit by bit, and leaving the poor, lonely brocatree (as he likes to call them). I may very well try it, however! I have tried the ranch, but he doesn't like it (ALIEN CHILD ALERT) I will definatley try the sweet potato marshmallow idea! I actually have some peach salso in the fridge- maybe we will try that tonight...

  4. Katy- Congrats on the blueberry success! Harris loved veggies as a wee babe as well... you just wait! I too have heard about the multiple exposure tactic. I put peas on his plate every night for 2 weeks straight and nothing happened. Blah! I also made a Veggie chart! I htought I posted about it in the past, maybe if I wasn't such a slacker and I actually tagged my posts i could look back and find it... But yeh, it was a zero motivator for him. Maybe I could come up with a different version... That "sprinkles idea sounds very intriguing! I will have to ponder that one for a bit! Thanks for coming out of lurkdom!

  5. This was fun to read. I wish I had some good tips. Maybe spinach pizza is going to just be a new staple. The only advice or experience I can give is that, just when you figure out what they'll eat, they seem to change. Bella currently loves romaine lettuce but just the ribs, not the leaves. So maybe Harris will grow into his veggies. Maybe if he can grow it he'll want to try it? :)

  6. I sometimes buy a jar of baby food (or puree fruit or veggies to a baby food consistency) and use it as a `dip' for pitas, nachos, other veggies or fruit. Our favourites are dipping chicken into sweet potatoes and pitas with butternut squash. I did this with our stash of emergency baby food jars when the kids were onto our food and it has been a hit every since.
    My son is a fabulous eater but my daughter is not. Our rule is to have a fruit or veggie at every meal and snack and then eat the rest. Our son was asking at Hallowe'en if he could eat an apple, then have a treat. When he was done he asked for some peppers, then a treat, then a banana and a treat and so on. He totally spoiled his supper but he was full of fruit, veg and mini chocolate bars so I couldn't really complain! :)
    My kids' favourite `hidden' food are carrot cookies. We call them carrot cookies and they have never thought it odd that there's a veggie in their cookies. Freezer friendly too!

  7. Well, I know this is a couple weeks late, and I hope the veggie trauma is well and truly behind you. If not, maybe this will be a little reassuring for you. Lots of studies (and I'm talking way back to the unethical 50s when orphans were fair game for scientific experimentation) have shown that children offered a varied diet will pick and choose what they need to make up a balanced diet. You can't take nutrition on a day-to-day basis (regardless of Eating The Rainbow, the Pyramid, etc. and the whole "most vitamins are water soluble and you pee out excess and can't accumulate surplus). Take it over six weeks. If you're giving H fortified food or vitamins, all bets are off because he doesn't actually need the veggies on a primal level.

    Babies and toddlers need FIFTY PERCENT of their calories to come from fat. It has to be that way to ensure they can get the calories they need without needing to over-eat. In infancy, most of their fat comes from milk (boob or formula), but once they move to two-glasses-a-day, they need fat from food. Veggies (low fat) are the polar opposite of what their bodies are telling them to eat, especially during growth spurts. Now H isn't a toddler anymore, but he still needs lots of fat in his diet and not a reduced-portion adult diet.

    I'm a proponent of Baby-led Weaning (not off breast, but onto solids - where you skip purees and just offer soft, identifiable foods) and the progression of BLW is still the same thing. Everyone eats the same meal and takes what they want from it and moves on. Getting kids involved in preparing (or growing) food is another brilliant plan. My 4yo had sushi for dinner after just yesterday declaring it "disgusting." I've seen some of the food photos from your kitchen and the meals your family prepares are to die for. H and S will eat well as older children and teens. Trust me.

    Hiding veggies in foods really isn't a long-term strategy. If you're hiding the nutrients they need, they won't self-select and as adults, they won't be used to choosing veggies, but nobody will be hiding them in their meals. That's not to say you shouldn't make spinach omlettes, veggie smoothies or pumpkin pancakes, it just means celebrate it, don't hide it. Don't make the table a battle-ground and you'll have a healthy, eating disorder-free family.

  8. Ches, wow that was an awesome comment and I have read it at least 5 times. I am going to take what you have said to heart- THANK YOU!


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