Friday, July 16, 2010

'doh! Thanks doc! and a new phase of picky?

We were at the pediatrician's yesterday. Generally I really dig her, she is very low-key and never mentions M's BMI... M and I are pretty excited to be preparing to visit my brother who lives in France. We go every two years to visit our only cousins! Anyhoo, M was talking about how we are going to go shrimp fishing and how excited she is. The doc chimes in with, "We were just in France, and you know she won't eat anything there! My kids only ate crepes and Sprite!"

Thanks! Great! Why put the notion into her head, from a doctor of all things? Again, we need to have an expectation of mastery and success, not pre-determined failure when it comes to food. Reminds me of the parents who go into restaurants saying, "You probably won't like anything here..." and then seem surprised when indeed the child meets those expectations. Our words matter!

I am also noticing recently much more vociferous opining about foods from M, who is almost 5. "Yuck, that tastes gross," is coming out of her mouth about foods she's never tried. This is new and I'm not loving it. I wonder if this is peer influence? Overall she still seems to be enjoying a wider variety, but there seems to be more immediate rejection, then coming around. I'm glad I have the tools to handle this... I hope!

Parents, did you notice changing attitudes around kindergarten age? Is it peer influence, or the preschool time when kids are eager to please is coming to an end? Have you seen your kids attitude about food influenced by a friend who is "allergic" or a "vegetarian" or "doesn't eat anything green?" (I frequently get demos of how her little buddy C eats apple slices, very gingerly eating all but the peel...)


  1. There are certain ages at which kids will try desperately to rebel against parental authority. You don't force her to eat anything she doesn't want to eat, so there's no chance for rebellion there. However, you do ask her to say "No, thank you" instead of "Gross" or "Yucky!" (I think I remember this from another post), so there's her chance to assert her individuality by doing the opposite of what you expect from her.

  2. Thanks Ila! I have to say, we are still struggling with he choosing not to drink milk and her dairy intake is going down. I'll let you know how this works out!

  3. YES! I own a small cafe and while everything I serve is fresh, natural and usually organic I hate it when parents come in and say their kids won't eat any of my panini or wraps, salads, sandwiches, etc. Then they proceed to buy their kid an ice cream sundae down the street?! Breaks my heart that these kids will never have the chance to make their own choices when trying new things until they leave home.

  4. I am not now nor have I ever been a picky eater, but my mother and I battled over drinking milk starting at about age 5. I just didn't like it, and when my mother would take the untouched room temperature glass off it off the dinner table and put it back in the fridge to collect all of the odors from the food in there and then make me drink it later before I could have any other food, it cemented my hatred. However, I do love all other forms of dairy and I think have more than compensated for my lack of milk-drinking with yogurt and cheese, etc.

    So I guess my question for you is: does she actually dislike milk or is there an outside influence at work here (like someone at school who she is emulating)?

    Also, what was your pediatrician thinking?! Doesn't it seem like we all talk about our children in front of them too much instead of talking to them directly. I catch myself talking about my daughter to my friends or to her daycare personnel and I can see her listening and absorbing what I'm saying. I worry that I'm "putting notions in her head" too about all kinds of things when I talk about her instead of to her.

    And Katja, this may sound weird but it is a huge relief to see that someone as smart and fabulous as yourself also sometimes struggles with the supposedly mundane task of feeding/raising a child. I am not alone!


  5. Michellers,
    Thanks for the kind words! We all struggle with things. I think the more honest we can be, the more we can help and support each other!
    Not sure what the deal is with the milk. I am mulling over what to do next. I'll keep you posted... I was OK with little milk when I could offer a variety of other calcium sources that were balancing things out, but that has declined too...
    We'll see what I can come up with. Just don't feel like creamy soups and stews!

  6. Can you go with other dairy (yogurt, cheese, etc.) instead of straight milk? My son has never been a milk drinker (he was breastfed and would never accept cow's milk in any form, except in hot chocolate) but will still gladly eat things like rice pudding, yogurt, anything with cheese, etc.

    He does get hot chocolate a couple of times per week, in addition to the other dairy products and calcium sources that he does like.

  7. Thanks Heidi,
    We used to do fine with yogurt, milk in oatmeal, foods etc. She's not a big cheese eater, so our other sources are happening less frequently. She's not been keen on puddings so far, but worth another neutral exposure, eh?

  8. Dear Katja,
    This is my own family story of food rejection and (later, much, much later acceptance and right down love for that food). At 2 years of age my daughter said she wasn't going to eat tomatoes anymore. Every time tomatoes were served she would make sure I knew she wasn't going to eat it. I didn't stop serving tomatoes. I didn't say a word other than 'yep, you don't have to eat it' following Satter Division of Responsibility model. I also never mentioned that tomatoes were a main ingredient of both salsa and spaghetti sauce, both of which she ate, sometimes. At 5 years of age, one day at dinner, she ate ALL of the tomatoes (2 big red tomatoes and a few cherry tomatoes) I had prepared for dinner. I didn't say anything nor praised her. It was her decision. From that day on she eats tomatoes. She says she 'absolutely loves them.' I still have not said a word about it other than 'Oh, I know, I know.

  9. Love that! We have similar with peanut butter. She won't eat it (I wonder if all the talk at her school about peanuts and peanut butter is part of her reluctance.) She will, however eat Thai food I make with PB and Mafe (African peanut stew!)

  10. notblueatall,
    sounds like you have a lovely place! Wish you were down the street from us! Frustrating, I know!

  11. My daughter has experienced some "school pressure" that has somewhat changed her eating. She's a little older (she's 8) but one day informed me she didn't like bananas anymore. After loving them for 8 years! After some gentle questioning, she informed me that her best friend at school doesn't like bananas. She felt uncomfortable going to school after having a banana with breakfast because she was worried her friend might "smell it on her" and then not like her! Sigh. So now she eats her bananas at more "neutral" times of day... I guess whatever works, right?

  12. Oh Boy! The power of peer pressure is scary! I love that you asked her some more questions. You are really in tune with her. Sounds like you didn't berate her or tell her, "that's silly! You will eat bananas!" She'll be more likely to be open with you. Neat. I think it's a pretty good solution, and you'll know if the friendship falters when she eat bananas for breakfast again!

  13. The milk thing might just be seasonal, a lot of people are less into drinking milk in the summer. As for the peer pressure - my cousin's kids would only eat tuna or egg salad sandwiches at home because kids at school compained about the smell!!?? But my 12 yr old is either thicker skinned or has less sensitive (dainty? picky?) classmates! I actually get thanked for packing either sandwich.

  14. I love that you are doing this in real life and not just as an MD telling everyone else what to do without having to test it out yourself. One commenter posted something about this and I agree - it gives you authenticity and credibility in my eyes that you also have the same challenges.

    I also want to add that I got to try raw milk last week at a friend's farm in Wisconsin - it was so GOOD. I don't usually drink milk except in my coffee but this was excellent. Can you tell me your opinions on raw milk? I am quite confused as I hear that one family in the TC had theirs taken away - are we in Russia now?

  15. Oh Boy, I try not to wade into personal food choices... I might get in trouble with this one. I really haven't done the research on this one, but in general I am suspicious of any claims of any one food or drug making a huge difference with health. I think there may possibly be some benefits, but there are certainly some real risks in terms of illness, most recently alleged e.coli outbreak in the Twin Cities, but also I am hearing of other pathogens, bloody diarrhea etc from pediatricians. A pregnant women should never drink raw milk. (Of course now pregnant women don't even eat deli meat due to lysteria hysteria. I ate deli meat... Where do we draw the line? ) I don't think that pasteurized milk is bad for you as some folks say. I drink 2% milk and serve that to my family, including my larger-than-average daughter. I also think milk with fat in it is probably better in terms of absorbing nutrients such as calcium. Drink the % that tastes best to you. I think that if families want to pursue certain food traditions or foods, they should be able to chose that for their families... Again, I have not done any research or deep soul-searching, so I could probably go either way :)

  16. The milk thing sounds really frustrating. The main idea I can come up with off the top of my head is making more snacks and desserts milk-based: ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies, yogurt with fruit, etc. Yogurt or cream based sauces might help some too. Also, what about making 1% and whole milk available to see if she likes either of those better than the 2%? (I prefer 2%, but seem to drink more 1%...possibly because of the consistency.)

    Good luck with it!

  17. Oh, the milk thing! Actually, I didn't grow up routinely drinking milk as a beverage. Occasionally I'd have a glass of milk with cookies or a piece of cake (also not routine in our home), but I never recall having milk with a meal. We got calcium in other ways. (And to think my mom grew up on a dairy farm!)

    We ate a fair amount of cheese, and, less frequently, yogurt. But we also had nuts and greens (spinach, collards, etc). And we often had cereal with milk at breakfast. Ice cream was a frequent treat/dessert in warm weather. Also berries or peaches with cream.

    Due to this upbringing, I had no expectation that my kids would drink a lot of milk as young children. My oldest is somewhat lactose intolerant--she does fine with cheese and yogurt, but a glass of milk or bowl of ice cream will usually give her a stomach ache. My younger daughter will often have milk to drink, but only occasionally with meals. Both seem to have good bones and do have great teeth.

    Here are a few of things I do anyway that have the added benefit of boosting calcium in my kids' diet:
    I make macaroni and cheese custard-syle with a carton of cottage cheese added in. I serve quiche often. I make easy salmon croquettes using canned salmon and leaving in the bones. I freqently use crushed almonds as/in a casserole topping. When we have boxed cereal I usually buy Product 19 which is fortified with minerals including calcium. My younger one likes to have a bowl of cereal and milk for a snack. We have an au gratin veggie at dinner at least once a week typically--faves are potato, cauliflower and yellow squash. I often pick up chocolate almond milk for a treat. We eat a lot of cheese--as a snack but also as an ingredient in other dishes. I've recently begun to make homemade yogurt cheese and turning it into a dip/spread to eat as a snack. It's very similar to fancy boursin cheese, but drastically more economical. You can also fortify foods on your own by adding non-fat dry milk powder. I'm sure muffin batter, etc., would absorb some easily. I have a homemade granola recipe that calls for dry milk powder and I always double the amount. I often make chicken stock from leftover chicken carcasses and when I do I add a dash of vinegar to the water. This is supposed to leach more minerals from the bones, including calcium. I use the stock in cooking or to make soup and you can't taste the vinegar at all.

    As for the kindergarten peer-pressure bit: I'm happy to report that, yes, that definitely happened here, but it fades with time if you just keep doing what you're doing and don't wig out. One of mine was more affected than the other, but she was also a pickier as an infant. (This is the same child who proudly explains to everyone that she marches to her own drummer, but, in fact, will not agree to cute school shoes that she hasn't seen several cool somebodies wearing first. Go figure.)

    I have a friend whose daughter is very calcium deficient due to an inherited metabolic problem, and she includes those chocolate calcium chews in her daughter's lunchbox and at every meal. I gather they taste pretty good. Maybe they'd make a good treat?

  18. such a wonerful reminder of all the glorious options! Will you share your salmon croquette recipe? Love the shoes story. Kids are the best... I'm not quite concerned enough yet for the chocolate chews, but will keep them in mind. On another note, my mom was very small at the end of WWII and her really first significant calcium was around age 6 when the US soldiers routinely provided powdered milk. All her baby teeth had rotted out. She is now almost 70, with incredibly good bone density, so again, the worry is often useless and makes things worse! We are more resilient than we think!