Monday, January 26, 2009

I have feeding issues

I have been doing a lot of soul searching these last few days. Why do I feel responsible for MAKING Porgie eat? How did I let her eating habits get so out of control? How am I going to change our situation?

I like being in control. I set mealtimes, bedtimes, and bath times. I decide what the kids will eat, which clothes they will wear, and which play dates we will attend. I keep close tabs on what the kids watch on TV, which books they read at home, and which music we listen to in the car. I call all the shots around here. So naturally, I thought it was my responsibility to control the type and amount of food that my children ate. As a result, I dread mealtimes because Porgie is always defying me. She spits out food, refuses to swallow the food in her mouth, and sometimes she refuses to even touch her meal. At first, I thought that this was just typical toddler behavior. But I think we are crossing into a whole new area of defiance. My child would rather not eat, than deal with my bossy and controlling attitude. I said it before, and I'll say it again - I SUCK.

Although this issue might seem trivial to you, it has consumed my thoughts for months. How do I change our habits? Do I have the willpower to let her refuse dinner and go to bed hungry? And for a while, I didn't have the willpower. She would refuse to eat, and I would push harder. But I am done. I don't want to distort Porgie's ideas about food. I want her to listen to her body's hunger signals. I want her to have healthy eating habits. But really, I just want her to be a happy and healthy little girl.

On the way to the grocery store this afternoon, I stopped at Borders. I was flipping through a book, when I saw this quote, "Parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is presented. Children are responsible for how much or even whether they eat." I am making a poster of this quote, and I am hanging it in my kitchen. Every time I feel the urge to be a food bully, I am going to read these wise words. Thank you Ellyn Satter.

18 comments:

Catizhere said...

I'm trying to beat it into Joe's head that the kids do NOT have to clean their plates at every meal. I put broccoli/beans/rice/ on the plates & they must eat at least one bite. Maggie is not really into eating ground beef (can't say that I blame her) and Joe knows this. However, he does harp on her to eat it. Dinner is no fun at my house. She also eats very s l o w l y.....so there is always an argument about that.

I say, just leave her alone. She'll eat when she's hungry and stop when she's full. Offer good, nutritious food & let her make her own choices. There must be some rules ie: Eat at the table; Take what you want, but eat what you take; etc
Ask Porgie to help prepare the meals. She can choose the sides, carrots or green beans. Have her help mash the potatoes, ask her to set the napkins & silverware out. I've found that getting Maggie involved in the process, gives her a feeling of control and that her opinion matters and she does eat much better.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I was a really picky eater - and now two of my children are paying me back for that. Oliver eats nothing but cheese sandwiches, fish sticks and chicken nuggets (although his magical daycare provider can get him to eat his peas and carrots every day..). George just doesn't eat. Thank god Eleanor likes food, or I would really wonder if I was at fault for the other two.

Bottom line - it IS normal toddler behavior - and it will continue as they get older. I don't think that I started to like vegetables until I was out of college...

Probably the best thing you can do when deailing with "defiance" is to offer choices. Have her pick what she wants from two acceptable options. Eventually, you'll have to get into the "this is what I made, and it's what everyone is going to eat" battles - but she's still so little. I say cross that bridge when you come to it.

Mama Kalila said...

Oh I'm sorry... but it's good that you know it's something to work on. I fought w/ my parents over food too (different situation though) - at one house I ate correctly for me (small meals throughout) at the other was forced to finish a full plate 3 times a day no snacks and was sick the whole time I was there. Turns out I'm hypoglycemic and can't do that lol. It bit em in the butt too because now they're diabetic and have to eat the same way I do! Like I said.. you're trying to change, that's something...

I second the offering choices thing though... or something to make meal time fun. Good luck!

Heather @ boy, girl, and a pug said...

Kyler is a very picky eater. Ella on the other hand eats everything in sight! What I have been doing, and maybe it's not right, but it's what I do, I let him choose breakfast, I give him 3 options for lunch and make one of them, and then dinner is whatever I make. He will usually eat breakfast and lunch, but very rarely eats dinner. Oh well. If he is hungry he will eat. I try to offer several things at dinner and sometimes he will at least eat something. Toddlers suck. I do make him sit at the table with us during dinner time, whether he eats or not. He doesn't seem to mind that. As long as I don't force him to eat he is fine with the sitting. Being a good mommy is hard, but we all know that you love your babies and you are doing a fabulous job. Big hugs to you.

Jiff said...

My 6 year old stepson used to gag and throw up when he didn't want to eat something. When he did it on purpose, I told him that if he threw it up, he would get his butt busted and go to bed hungry. That worked for us only because he's so sensitive and never wants to get in trouble. My 9 month old is going to be hell on wheels, I can already tell.

I hate that you are going through this. Totally sucks. Ain't parenting grand? heheh.

Kristin said...

Food issues are so common. I too have abandoned the thoughts of "clean plate club"....I give my kids healthy food mostly, and they can eat as much or as little as they want. It really does all balance out. When they go through spurts, they eat more, sometimes they go through phases of eating very little.
I agree with everyone else as well, if you make it a process that she can get excited about, it might take away some of the headache you have about it. Have her helping you make dinner, etc.
BTW - you don't suck. You are a human with your own brain, trying to figure out what is going on in another humans brain, its impossible but as mothers its our job to do the best we can. You are doing the best you can!!!! Sometimes its trial and error, but isn't that what life is all about!?! :) Don't be so hard on yourself!

Marni's Organized Mess said...

Have I mentioned I love your blog? I too deal with some of this. Lately the kids rebel JUST to push my buttons and while putting the first bite in their mouth say "I don't want to eat." I always say FINE, then STARVE.

Then they eat.

Misguided Mommy said...

brandons dr once told me to find one or two things he liked and for now serve that for every meal. he said right now it is not so important what they eat but simply THAT THEY EAT. so i did that and he lived on macaroni and pancakes for nearly a year. now he eats all kinds of stuff.

Mama Smurf said...

Sometimes we have to learn to pick and choose our battles. You're smart for recognizing this now. I didn't...and now I have a 10 year old with horrible eating habits.

amanda said...

oh how i wish my mom would have heard that quote...

i could go on and on with details - her weighing me in the morning before school, having the lunch ladies check my tray before i could get up from my seat, the timer at dinner, the hidden veggies, the eating disorder...

instead i will just say thank you and good luck. you can do it! and you both will be much happier :)

Z's Mom said...

You don't suck. We live and learn. As big as Zander is, I could swear he wasn't eating enough. His doctor told me there would be days he would hardly eat, but other days it would pick up. It all levels out.

I think its getting a little tough for me too because Zander wants to do everything on his own. He wants to cook so he gets mad when I start fixing a meal without him. I have to learn to be more patient and let him help too. He is an excellent egg-cracker though....better than I am even....

Dana said...

my mom told me that when I was little I hated eating at set times and set meals!I was always a "picker".. She asked the doctor and he said I'd eat when I was hungry and not to worry.. I turned out great! Don't worry... she'll eat when she's ready!

Tabitha said...

My son Daniel was the same ~ in the end he would hardly eat anything. When I went to the Doctor with him ~ he said much the same as what other people have said here ~ let him eat what he likes ~ as eating something is better than eating nothing. He came out the other side ~ and he is 11 now ~ still a bit of a picky eater ~ but he eats well and a wide variety of foods and all is well!!!
Hang on in there ~ it does get better ~ I promise!!
Love and hugs Tabitha XXXXXX

MarvelousMOM said...

You need to give yourself more credit. You don't suck at all. I have to say that when Eli and I first got together, food was a HUGE issue. The kids wouldn't eat anything hardly at all. It was such a pain in the butt. It goes away in time. I think that is a great quote and one that you definitely needed to read. Do put it somewhere where you are able to see/read it every day for a reminder. Don't beat yourself up anymore. You are wonderful!!

anymommy said...

You do not suck. Toddlers are impossible. You've hit an issue and you've realized that it's turning into a control battle and now your figuring out how to handle it. That's like the best parenting EVER so don't be so tough on yourself.

My son routinely refuses dinner. He adores breakfast, most snacks and lunch and WILL NOT EAT DINNER. Unless it's french fries. Grrrrr. So, I make sure he has something healthy that he likes at 3:00 for snack and if he doesn't eat dinner I just shrug and he goes to bed without eating. It really is okay. Or at least, I think so. Most toddler books say that they will eat if they are truly hungry. So go with that quote (I love it) and see how it works out.

If you think it's going to really bother you that she skips dinner, make afternoon snack something she loves. That helps me stay firm on not letting him snack after dinner, if I know he's eaten at 3:00.

dani said...

a great quote for you to live by, christy!!! i think you will both feel better in the end. kat was a VERY picky eater (she ate mcdonald's fries and drank chocolate boost her first 7 years, true story). i didn't feel good about it, but we did what we had to so that she would eat. she had food texture issues and would gag (not herself but on the food).
in the end she was healthy and happy!!!
good luck:D
love,
dani

Mary said...

That's a great quote and I need to remember that too. It's hard dealing with feeding issues. It sounds like Claire and Porgie could really drive us both insane with their problems. I do have to say that I do let Claire go to bed hungry (or you'd at least think she'd be hungry) several times, including last night, and I'm sure there will be more times. It's hard to do that, but I think the consequences of forcing the little ones to eat would be worse. I try to remember myself that she'll eat if she's really hungry and Porgie will too.

Rachel said...

Sometimes I get nutty about what Max eats but then I say to myself-he will eat when he needs to. It is nutty because we feel responsible-like tonight-he would not eat-so I gave him a bottle and he drank that but no food-now the other day he ate so much I did not know how he managed to get it all in his stomach.