Thursday, July 21, 2011

NOT mother of the year, then?

I care a lot about my children's nutrition. Well, in the sense that they rarely eat fast food, they get juice only at parties, and I avoid the frozen convenience section at the supermarket...

From 6 months onward, I lovingly steamed, pureed and froze little containers of vegetables rather than rely on jars... I hand rolled my own sausages, fer goodness sake!

And, like hungry sparrows each of my delightful children opened their little cherub, strawberry-scented mouths to take in the delicious, homecooked, goodness I provided for them.

Yes, at 6 months my children looked like the cover of an Annabel Karmel cookbook. Indeed, many of my recipes were extracted from those tomes. And I congratulated myself on setting up a marvellous food-foundation for their future.

Fast-forward two years and this is an illustration of a typical mealtime at my place:
Does this look like the cover of an Annabel Karmel cookbook to you?!? Folks, where have I gone wrong?

Last night, I cooked up:

- Snow peas, carrots and peas
- Fish Fillets with soy mayo

and instead, my daughter ate:

- cold 2-minute noodles
- Dora the Explorer yoghurt
- Half a piece of vegemite toast.

It is a repeating pattern. It doesn't seem to matter what I make, my daughter turns her nose up at it, pushes her plate away in disgust and would cheerfully go to bed hungry. Except - despite my pitifully weak threats - I can't let her. Thus the vegemite toast.

She won't eat vegetables. Not even hot chips -- are they even a vegetable?!
She won't eat cheese on toast.
She doesn't eat baked beans. Or spaghetti. Or chicken schnizel. Or stroganoff. Or hamburgers. Or tuna mornay. Or anything from the "Feeding Fussy Kids" cookbook by Antonia Kidman NOTI thought would be the answer to all my problems.

She will eat toast.
And cornflakes.
Mini sushi-rolls with tuna.
Cheese biscuits.

And that's about it.

I'm at a complete loss. And as - night after night after night after night - she rejects my meals, I am losing my motivation to even try. I hate cooking, always have. I only try because I love my kids and want them to eat well. But when my Labrador eats the meal I spent an hour preparing for my children, its hard not to let it get me down. I've well and truly lost my mojo.

Have any of you been through this? Have you any tips or never-fail recipes you could share with me? I am not quite ready to give up just yet.... but I'm getting close!



  1. It's a stage. It can last a while though. Best to give up cooking the good "goods" for a while, give yourself a break! And then, wait a little, and try them again in a few months or so. They somehow forget what they didn't like. It's like a little mini-miracle when they start eating the food you lovingly prepare again. Just don't let on how pleased you are about it when it finally happens ;)

    {I sometimes wonder if they have plain taste-palates for while? Maybe their taste-buds need some space to develop..???}

  2. Yep, been there, done that, got the t-shirt :)
    Will has always been a fussy eater and I've spent so long tearing my hair out about it I've now decided to just give him whatever I know he will eat and try to make meal times as 'un-nagging' as possible. The salt in the wound is that he generally eats everything that daycare dishes up for lunch - but if I try and copy their meals and tell him it's day care food - nope won't eat it.
    I try and give him more substantial breakfast like scrambled eggs with ham, tomato, baby spinach and cheese and he'll eat that (he eats the most at breakfast). Don't worry hun I've spoken to heaps of Mum's and if they go through this faze it seems like there's nothing much you can do. One of the Mum's at my mothers group has an older son who is really big for his age and bright and clever and she said that he's testament to the fact that kids can survive on vegemite toast.

  3. Hi Nicole, yes I hear you. I have weeks where he'll demolish anything on his plate, then longer where he'll push everything away and seemingly be able to survive on weetabix and milk all day with a bit of cheese and crackers. I get SO frustrated, because, like you, I want him to appreciate the bloomin' effort I've put in! What I've done lately is appeal to his imagination and get him involved in the cooking. I buy whole fish with the heads on and let him massage oil and herbs into it. Then voila 20 mins later you just pull the flesh away from bones, serve up with roast sweet pot wedges and peas. Very little effort and I find that's quite successful. Also, I buy the hormone-free spatchcock chickens which I roast whole for him, and he plays with the legs and wings as we prep. Same thing, bung in oven and serve with whatever you can be bothered to do. But seriously, it does drive you to drink. We even went back to playing choo choo trains two weeks ago so I could get some food into him. He's 3 for crying out loud!

  4. Is it wrong that I actually DO send my kids to bed hungry? Well, they are clearly not hungry or they would have eaten dinner right?! Its not that bad, veg, pasta, meat, same thing they devoured last week. If they are hungry, they will eat is my motto. They will not starve. Try to look at their meals over the whole day, they should be eating like pigs until midday when it starts to taper off, dinner they shouldnt be eating much at all (unless they haven't eaten enough during the day).

    So there you go, thats my unfounded opinion that works for me and my cherubs:) I never stress over dinner or it just becomes a battle.

    But really, I know how ridiculously trying it can be, and i do feel for you and hope you can get some spoonfulls into little mouths easier soon. xx

  5. Aaah, kids can be absolute monkeys!
    I have 3 kids and like you have Annabel's book and did all the same as you.
    Unfotunately, both of my girls selected the "eating is optional" button in the womb which apparently kicks in between 2-3yrs.
    The biggest who is 7, now eats a few things and we can now negotiate but its been a long road. And the youngest (5) ... apparently everything remotely healthy is still "disgusting".
    Don't despair (easily said by a woman who some nights has been clinging to sanity by only the fingernails!) it will get better.
    And I'm all for the "this is the meal, this is not a restaurant, get over it" approach. One meal and pick out the bits you don't like.
    And one magic word - puree! Mine would eat sauce so I would cook a heap of veges tomatoes, sweet potatoes and or pumpkin and puree them to make "sauce". Close enough to a vege!

  6. Don't worry. :o) There are loads of websites out there dedicated to telling you not to worry. :-D

    Here is just one of them. It used to have a great article about 'Picky eaters at the dinner table' but that was years ago when I still worked with children - rather than living with them. ;o) Still an informative site, though.

  7. Oh yes, the food battleground is a very familiar one. She is trying to show off a few of her newly discovered super powers - she can single-handedly wrap mum around her little finger without even touching her! How's that for super!?

    I think it's all summed up by your comment 'but I won't let her' go to bed hungry. She knows that, so she does the super power trick and voila! Fave food magically appears.

    Imagine if you did 'let her' go to bed hungry... in a day or two that fish would sure taste good! And trust me, no child has died overnight from missing dinner. At least, not to my knowledge!

    Good luck, super mum!! x

  8. Aaaargh, my daughter is 5 and a half and still doing this to me. And, like a schmuck, I am still trying to offer healthy food by planning and balancing and shopping and preparing and serving and and and.....then chucking it in the bin. With bubba number two now on solids, I decided that it was high time little miss 5 ate what we ate because I canNOT come up with 3 separate dishes each night. Sounds good in theory right? Fine if hubby and I are prepared to eat sausages, chicken schnitzel (bought ones, not homemade) or spaghetti bolognaise every night. Which we are not. And its all very well to say she can go to bed hungry but then we get the "I'm hungry" delay tactic at bedtime to add to the already not inconsiderable weaponry of "I'm not tired", "I need a drink" , "I'm too hot", "I'm too cold" etc etc. Not to mention the fear of a midnight wakeup. Sorry to depress you, but at 5 and a half, we are still at it. And as for the school lunch box, aaaargh again. Carefully prepared nutritionally balanced lunches of chicken, avocado and celery sandwiches with a tub of low fat yoghurt and slices of apple come home untouched. All she'll eat is cheese sandwiches on white bread and a vanilla yoghurt drink (can't bring myself to look at its sugar content). I'm watching this post with interest!!!!

  9. The only thing I can suggest is to get her involved in the cooking perhaps? I bought a sushi kit for the first time the other day and we made sushi together. Maybe you could slip in some veges if she's willing to help you make her own sushi.

    The other good one, which takes a bit longer, is to get them involved in the growing. Being able to walk around your yard and pick herbs or peas or tomatoes and eat them straight off the bush is a good feeling and they can do almost all of the work!

    Good luck :)

  10. Grace has her ups and downs with food which tend to coincide with her getting a new tooth or being unwell. I've learnt not to worry if she doesn't feel like eating and a few days later, she'll usually get her appetite back. I SO know what you mean though about spending half the afternoon whipping up this 'gourmet dishes' only to have your cherub not want a mouthful - SO frustrating!! One recent win I did have was cooking up some white/cheesy sauce and mixing through pureed pumpkin and broccoli and serving it with macaroni. I tell Grace it's 'cheesy pasta' and I feel better knowing there's vegetables hidden away in there.

  11. Hi! I am visiting for the first time...found you via The Beetle Shack. I have gone through this with my almost two year old also. It is so frustrating...I feel your pain. I have a few recipes that never fail with my boy. You can see them on my blog
    It's funny cause my son will NOT eat vegetables but with devour bowls of soup. ??? Go figure.
    Anyway, best of luck and I hope you find your moo :-) xx

  12. I'm there too! I've recently decided that if he's not going to eat what I've cooked, then I'm not going to give him his 'fail safe' options! Although, I'm still a bit of a soft touch!

  13. I am so there with you... But I refuse to give izzy an alternative now. This worked at her new kinder - the teacher said if she didn't eat her lunch, there would be no alterntative sandwiches (they used to ditch her hot meal at the last kinder and give her sangers....) anyway it worked from day one. She eats everything they serve her! Funny little things!!


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