I have spoken before about my how fussy my toddler is. Mealtimes are a nightmare. I love food, my husband and I are complete foodies and a beige freezer diet makes me so sad but sometimes that is all she will eat. After Gino D’Acampo’s comments about ‘stupid parents’ being to blame for fussy eating children, I had to really have a little think, when it comes to Toddler Fussy Eating: Am I a ‘stupid parent’? Am I giving her too much choice? Am I not strict enough when it comes to food?
I totally agree with the whole ‘heres your dinner and that’s it, eat it or don’t’ stance, but what if that isn’t working? Say for example I make dinner and she refuses to eat it and I send her to bed hungry… that isn’t going to teach her a lesson. All that will happen is she will go to bed hungry, demolish her breakfast (the kid loves porridge) and the same cycle will continue except all she is eating on a daily basis is porridge, toast and sandwiches. It isn’t going to force her to eat a proper meal, I’ve tried it already. Breakfast is the only meal I can almost always get her to eat, toast, pancakes, porridge etc. But you can’t live on that!
I have tried pretty much every technique out there. I have served every meal with at least one thing on the plate I know she will eat. I have hidden vegetables. I have tried completely ignoring her refusals to eat and saying ‘you don’t have to eat it’ to make it less of a big deal and power struggle. I have tried making things into funny shapes. I have been strict and forced her to eat something before she got down from the table. I have used threats of time out and early bedtime, I have used bribes ‘just eat one spoon of peas and you can have chocolate for dessert’. None of it works and it all makes me feel like crap. Like a ‘stupid parent’. Why are other children eating and mine isn’t?
I got all excited the other day because I managed to get her to eat a wrap with butter and marmite on it. That shouldn’t be cause for celebration though should it, it’s more carbs! I don’t think I manage to get any vegetables into her on a daily basis, only fruit. I use the snacks that are dried fruit that apparently count as one of her five a day but that doesn’t make me feel better. I hide avocados in homemade chocolate mousse and milkshakes and vegetables in muffins but you can’t eat those for every meal!
We have recently gone vegan and although I am not being strict with my daughters diet, it has made life even more difficult. She won’t eat the quorn chicken nuggets or meat substitutes. She doesn’t like the vegan cheese. She won’t eat veg. What does that leave?! The temptation to serve porridge for every meal is overwhelming, at least I know she is eating something that way. We make some amazing and healthy dinners as vegans but she won’t touch them. There’s no point telling me to just go back to eating meat and dairy either, because she wouldn’t touch those meals either.
I love pasta, she doesn’t. I love burritos and wraps but she will only eat them plain or with marmite on, she wouldn’t touch any of the rice and vegetable fillings that we have. I am in a real rut with food and it is really starting to wear me down. I spend hours scouring Pinterest to try and find vegan recipes we would all eat, try them and it always ends up the same, with her refusing to touch it. I can sometimes get risotto in her, but who wants to stand and make risotto every day?!
So what do I do? Let her live on one bowl of porridge a day because I’ve served dinner and if she doesn’t eat it that’s her choice? Any tips on toddler fussy eating would be greatly appreciated. Especially from you Gino D’ACampo. I do say ‘no’ to my child, my house is not like a restaurant and I don’t serve up different meals for everyone yet she still won’t eat. So tell me, what’s the answer?