Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Joys of Toddlerhood: The Food Battle Part 1

Periodically I have been posting about The Joys of Toddlerhood (Part 1Part 2) and the fun that comes with these years! When I say fun, I actually mean it! Everyday is like a new adventure for him and it's fun to watch him grow and learn! A common battle with these toddler years is the food battle and I thought it would be a fun blog to write about this topic. I have several friends with kids his age or soon to be kiddos his age that have asked me what I do for food so hopefully I can answer all their questions with this two-part blog. 

In this first part I will start out with my philosophy on eating and in the second part I will cover some foods he loves to eat and I keep on hand for him to eat.

What We Eat
I am not a person who believes in only buying organic, grass-fed, all natural, and no sugar items for our food.  I am not vegetarian or vegan and we don't have any special diets we follow. I have nothing against those people that buy that way and I will buy the items if they are a great price, but normally I buy what is available to me and cost effective. I do buy items that are lower sugar, low salt, and I try to cook all my meals....which translates to we don't buy a lot of perservity pre-processed foods. We have a large garden and I use as much as I can out of our garden and can/freeze what I can't use. However, saying this, you will find some pre-proccessed foods on my list (in the next post) for convenience and I always say

What He Eats
A few months ago we went through this food battle, sort of. I noticed he was becoming picky about his eating and wouldn't eat certain things we put in front of him. My son like meat and fruit. Everything else is just something to play with. When we first became parents, we decided to feed him what we eat. He doesn't get some special meal of hot dogs and chicken nuggets every meal....he eats the exact same food we are having for that meal.  He eats what we eat and if he doesn't like it, he doesn't eat. At first I felt guilty, scared he might starve to death, but my husband put me in check. He said "People are programmed to eat when they are hungry and even if they don't like the food, they will eventually eat it." With his medical experience, I decided he is most likely right. I usually feel just fine knowing that he eats one really good meal each day, which he does. 


Variety Is The Spice of Life
I have found that my child likes a variety of foods. Each meal I give him a small amount of a each item that we eat and throw in a little extras. He will eat little bites of everything and overall gets a nice variety of nutrition from each item. Muffin Tin Mom has some great ideas for meals for your toddler if you want an example of foods. I don't use the muffin tin, but it's a good concept. 


In addition to variety, we let him try new things all the time. For instance, my son really didn't like salad until one day while out to eat with my husband's aunt she gave him a piece of her lettuce that had balsamic vinegar on it.  You know what, HE LOVED IT! Now when we have salad, he eats his with balsamic vinegar on it! I am not big on condiments so I try to keep those to a minimum but we have found he likes barbecue sauce with his baked french fries, so I let him eat that too. 


Eat Like A Grown-Up
In addition to eating the same meals we eat, I have started to transitioning him over to grown-up eating. He sits in a booster seat at our table, eats with glass plates and metal silverware , and even puts his hands together in prayer before every meal. (Obviously, with the forks you have to watch him very closely, but we are right next to him.) I think he likes the feeling of being a "big boy" and the newness of the glass plate and metal silverware he uses are something different to play with so he eats more. We hope to tackle the normal cup soon!


Give Up The Battle
I will not fight with my child over his food and decided to give up any battle that might arise with his food. I like to give him options. Today for breakfast, I asked him if he wanted Nutella or peanut butter on his toast, he chose peanut butter.  He can choose between mozzarella cheese or cheddar cheese, cucumber or green pepper, grapes or strawberries....  If he eats, he eats.  If not, he will be hungry later and he will get the same plate that he didn't eat before. I do this quite a bit with lunch because sometimes he isn't very hungry for lunch after his big breakfast and usually an hour later he will walk over to his chair and say "eat". He gets the same plate again and will usually eat it. 


I hope this post helped some of you Moms out there with the food battle you might be having with your little one(s). I am no expert on kids, as this is my first, but have found these little rules work great for us. However, one thing I have noticed being a Mom is all children are different...so this might work for me, but not work for you. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the post and look for part two of the post where I list off some of the best toddler foods to keep on hand. 




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