I need to stop searching the Internet and books for hope. There’s a plethora of ideas out there to get nutrition into the mouth of a choosy child. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it is great advice. The majority of it doesn’t help our particular pickster eat any better and only adds to an already frustrating situation.
The most common strategy to feed the picky eater is the sneak technique. Purée nutrition laden vegetables and add it to the pasta sauce. Great idea and one I am currently embracing in a desperate attempt to battle my son’s anemia and boost his intake of fiber. I hope next month’s blood work shows enough improvement in this area that he’ll be on his way to reduce or even stop taking the daily iron supplement.
I have two problems with the sneak technique as a long term solution. First, it’s our job as parents to teach our kids how and why to eat healthy. Am I doing this by handing him a brownie when he doesn’t eat the chicken? Not really. Thankfully, he loves to help me in the kitchen and I make it a point to tell him what all the ingredients are as he adds them to whatever we are making.
When we made the brownies, for example, I handed him the beans, a cup at a time, to add to the food processor. I didn’t “sneak” them in. He was right there, watching and actively participating in the process. I called them what they are. Beans. I pointed out that the rest of the family wrap the same beans up in tortillas. It’s all part of the process of desensitizing him from his fear of food.
This technique boldly assumes that pasta is part of his diet. Noodles in all shapes, sizes and form have never made it past his first molars before being detected and ejected in disgust. Elbow macaroni, chopped spaghetti. I’ve even added puréed lasagna noodles to the sneaky veggie sauce. Yuck. All of it. Pasta is one of those inedible foods, just like things-that-are-green.
The truth is, if my son ate any kind of pasta, I probably wouldn’t even consider him to be a picky eater.
The second issue with being sneaky, something I learned very early, is that hiding something disliked in something he eats has dire consequences. The discovery of something offensive will guarantee that he swears off the accepted food, sometimes for good. Even worse than diminishing an already limited diet, I’ve lost his trust. Assuming he will grow to like pasta, when he’s old enough to cook it himself, do I really expect him to purée a despised vegetable and add it to the sauce? Not a chance.
For now, boosting the nutritional content of things he will eat with things that he won’t is a temporary answer. For him to try something new, he has to master up his own courage, a process that demands phenomenal amounts of patience from me. A large portion of that patience comes from knowing that his very limited diet is jam-packed with the nutrients his growing body needs. One day, maybe he might eat tortillas with the rest of us. Anything is possible. Until then, we have brownies and pancakes.
1 cup – all purpose flour
1 cup – whole wheat flour
2 tbsp – lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp – baking powder
1 tsp – baking soda
1 tsp – cinnamon
1/2 tsp – ground ginger
1 – egg
2 cups – milk
1 cup – pumpkin puree (make your own or use canned pie filling)
2 tbsp – oil
1 tbsp – vinegar
In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and mix well. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, pumpkin puree, oil and vinegar. Mix well. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and blend well.
Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray as needed. Using medium heat, pour 1/4 cup of batter and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Work quickly as the vinegar and the baking soda create a chemical reaction that makes these pancakes extra fluffy.
Top with warm applesauce or whipped cream.