Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Great Veggie War

If you asked our 10 year old, David and I are the worst possible parents in the world. We ask him to do something that in his mind, is probably comparable to Chinese Water Torture. No, I take that back. He would probably like the torture more.

You see, when we blended families, we came up with some ground rules. One thing that is very important to me is nutrition and experiencing and trying new things. It's my belief that what we do now will shape the decisions they make going into adulthood. Their father has some health issues that are due to the food decisions he has made in his life and I don't want to see the kids facing those same health issues at 32. I'm also a firm believer that you can't say you don't like something if you've never tried it. Therefore, it's a rule at our table that you have to at least try everything that is made for dinner. I noticed a pattern that the kids had their minds made up that they didn't like something and then would try it and be like, 'oh, that's not so bad.' Mainly this is when it comes to fruits and veggies. If it were up to them we would only eat meat and potatoes or fast food or pizza rolls. I care about them more than that so I make it a point to cook and introduce them to new things.

The 3 older kids have done a pretty okay job (with the exception of squash night). They will put whatever it is on their plate, try it, comment on it and move on with their meal. I always praise them for at least trying and not making a huge fuss. Miracles never cease, there have been times they've tried something and found out they did like it and actually put more on their plate.

Then, there's the 10 year old. He has decided to make life not only difficult for himself, but everyone else. He's very hard headed and stubborn and no amount of reasoning with him will convince him just try the darn food and move on with the evening. Meal time has turned into a war zone with him. He sits, on average, at the table 45 minutes longer than anyone else due to his refusal to try what's on his plate. One night, he actually fell asleep there and we left him for a couple of hours before we made him get up and go to bed.

I'm not budging on this. When I tell you, dear readers, that they have to try everything, I want you to understand it's not even a complete spoonful. Take last night for example. Broccoli and cheese. Each kid got one small broccoli piece and tried it. One piece. Not the big mama jammas from the fresh produce section, the small pieces you find in one of the steam fresh bags. And still, all we get from his is whining and pouting and back talking and getting mad.

I don't know if any other parents out there have dealt with this – if so, please email me with some advice. He is bound and determined that he is going to find a way to not have to try new things and his Dad and I aren't giving in. With obesity and health issues running rampant in kids today, I feel it's my duty as a caring step-mom who loves him, to equip him to make good decisions for himself and expose him to things he might not have ever had before.

To give you an example of what I'm facing; I made muffins this week and the kiddos had never tried a muffin! They loved them! And they were strawberry muffins and if you would have asked them if they liked strawberries they would have said, 'yuck, no way.' I by no means saying that muffins are a super healthy snack, but it's just the small things they've never even given a chance. And come to find out, they actually really like it!

I know in my heart I'm doing the right thing here, I just need a better way to handle it perhaps. Or maybe to know I'm not alone! So, throw it at me! Am I a horrible person or is this just one of the growing pains in having kids?!

Lots of Love....
~Manda Jane~


  1. I can't say I've been in your shoes but I have been the main caregiver to other peoples kids. I've had to deal with the power struggles. With the changes going on for your new family, I bet everyone is feeling the need for control at least a little.

    I can't tell you what to do but I will share somethings I'd try if I was in your shoes right now...

    -Get rid of any snacks other than fruits or veggies and limit the amount they can eat. It's not as easy to skip over veggies if you are hungry.

    -Give each kid a day once a week (or month) to pick a meal and help cook it. The only rule is that it has to be a balanced meal. Having some control about what they eat will make them a lot happier and it gives you a chance to really teach them about what makes a healthy meal.

    -Reward them with little coupons to change the veggie of the meal with the veggie of their choice. Maybe only give them one when they finish their whole meal in a timely matter without fuss.

    Also, keep in mind that you are in control and you can change the rules if they aren't working for your family. Maybe have a family meeting to talk about what rules the kids think are fair and what they think is "too hard." Just make it clear at the beginning of the meeting that nothing is going to change overnight but you and your boyfriend want to hear their opinions because what they think is very important to you.

    What I'm about to say is less helpful but I'll say it anyway. When I was 10, I didn't like veggies. I think it was just changes with my body but they did not taste good. Like, AT ALL. Lol. Being the stubborn girl I am, I hated when people made a big deal about it. I felt like I knew what tasted good and I didn't care what they felt. You still can't tell me something is good when I know I don't like it. The best thing my mom did to deal with me was to stop making it a big deal. She would just say, "This is dinner. You can eat it or not, but this is it." And she stuck to it. If I wanted more of something, I couldn't have it unless I ate everything on my plate but she didn't make a big deal about it. If I didn't eat it all, she's leave if for me in case I decided to so I could have treat or something but she didn't bug me about it.

    Sorry this is so long! I tried to keep it short! Anyway, I'm sure things will get better.

  2. I'm not a parent, but I was like your 10yr old. There were nights when I was falling asleep at the table, but I was so headstrong I would have rather lived at the table before a sweet pea entered my mouth. I have always been a picky eater (still kinda am), and I'm finding out that a lot of the things I refused to eat are now some of my favorites.

    My mom wouldn't allow me to have sweets (my weakness) if I was refusing to eat veggies at dinner time. If I didn't eat dinner, the next morning I would get plain oatmeal while my siblings ate pancakes or waffles. She also stored snacks out of my reach. Eventually I learned to just eat the dang peas. With a frown on my face.

    There are still some foods I just wont try even as an adult. Its taken years for my hubby to get me to eat eggs. I had a bad experience with an egg when I was six, so the thought of eating them made me queasy. Find out why some food items are so vehemently denied. Maybe he's had an adverse reaction? But I don't think you're asking much if you're just having them taste foods.