Practicing patience a million times a day is probably the hardest part of this stage because my toddler is having to learn what this concept is all day every day, while I'm learning how to be a grace giving mother all day... every... day. Noah really loves to be involved in meal prep, and likes to feed himself these days. Both of which can get VERY messy, but naturally are a part of him learning how to be independent. Of course it would be easier for me to do everything my self, but I know allowing him to be involved will help him continue to develop good eating habits for the rest of his life.
Cooking for example, he loves to help me cook, and he ALWAYS makes a mess, but I try to get him involved in things that are safe and practical for him to do.
Seeing him interested in cooking is worth the mess it makes. Obviously I don't cook every day, even now that I'm home more, however when I'm feeling particularly patient (ha!) I find a way to get him involved. The mess that inevitably ends up all over the kitchen is always a part of the deal, no way getting around it. Even if he doesn't eat everything we made, he at least tries it, and that's a victory for me!
Another area I have to constantly battle practicing patience with is, when he doesn't want to eat something he seemingly has always loved... for example his mixed veggies. He has ALWAYS LOVED THESE!! Since the beginning of his short little life he has loved these... see proof below.
Until last week... he only takes a bite or two at a time and won't touch them again. For an entire week he has snubbed these. Our old tried-and-true favorite has found themselves on his 'reject food' list for the first time. He still isn't interested in them, and I am definitely having to practice patience setting these aside for a little while. In the spirit of perseverance, which is my next topic, I have decided to never give up. So I go to my back up, cucumbers and celery. While cucumbers are anatomically technically a fruit, I still give Noah credit for eating them as a veggie since they are green. Children can easily develop food aversions to all green foods because they associate them with tasting bitter. Cucumbers are my homie, and our friend because they are always sweet, and (at least in my mind) help combat that misconception. This is what our lunches have looked like lately.
That's an almond butter, and strawberry jelly sandwich with his cucumbers and celery. Some days he eats both the green things, some days he doesn't touch either. Sometimes I make 4 differnt things, and he still won't eat any of it. Honestly, this is where the perseverance part has to become a priority. I had found, eventually maybe weeks later, Noah will come around.
Other areas I have to continue practicing patience with until we have completely out grown them are: throwing food on the floor, throwing food in general, pouring out cups for fun, walking around the house while eating messy things, dumping containers out, refusing to eat meat, refusing to eat anything healthy at a restaurant, dumping food off of his plate just for fun... FYI, non of these behaviors are 'allowed' in our home, but until we have broken these bad habits (with discipline of course) I. must. be. patient. (you people with hungry dogs get a little bit of a break when it comes to some of these haha).
Side Note: I have said this a million times, but it's true now more than ever. Noah may not be interested in eating at all, but if Jamey and I sit down (turn the T.V. off) and start eating with out him, usually he decides to join in. Family meals are so very necessary to establish good eating habits. Some weeks we go days without eating a meal where we are all at the same table, but if it's within my control to make it happen, it's always a priority for us on a daily basis. And of course you actually have to be willing to eat the veggies yourself... naturally!
Another Side Note: One book I read said that eating is a HUGE inconvenience for toddlers as it interferes with their playtime which is the most important thing in their daily lives. Some days I give him a little more time when he's playing until his attention is redirected, then I try a meal. Otherwise if he's deep in play, he is NOT interested in stopping to eat.
Perseverance:This topic is the most important message from today's blog. I have noticed that teething is usually the culprit for most of his food aversions, but sometimes I wonder if he just gets sick of certain foods? Other days it just feels like he's torturing me haha.
I constantly have to make sure my self worth is not tied up in being able to control this area of his life. I just have to continue to be stead-fast, because personally as mother I feel victorious and worthy (to be honest) when my child will eat something I prepared that is healthy. On the flip side, it can be equally disheartening when they reject every single thing you put in front of them, days. on. END. But refusing to give up on veggies as a whole, is the overall message I'm trying to encourage you to embrace. I can't say it enough that SO many of my patients fell into the "I've never liked vegetables, even since I was a kid" club. Usually their parents labeled them as 'non veggie-eaters' and it just stuck.
And TRUST ME, I GET IT!!!! There have been so many times over the past couple of months where I have been sick, double exhausted from being preggo, and at my wits end... but I just refuse to give up. I want to implore you with everything I have to keep keepin' on mommas and papas. Like I said before, I have compromised more than I ever thought I would since his sweet baby days of eating everything I put in front of him, but I have not given up, and I encourage you to hang in there too. My expectation used to be veggies at lunch and dinner daily... now I'm happy if it's just one meal a day. On our rough days I'm happy if he just takes a bite or two, or will drink some low sodium V8. The focus is starting new each day, and persevering through the tough times.
Final thought: I will never forget the patients I saw day after day lying in a hospital bed with health related medical conditions that may have been avoided if they took better care of their bodies. You have to remember why this is important, especially during the tough times. You're committed to helping your little ones develop healthy eating habits, because you don't want that to be them laying in any hospital if there is any way you can help it.
Don't forget to give your self grace, practice patience daily, and above all things.... persevere.
Love and Blessings Always,
The Veggie Momma