Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eating air

In our house food has become the new sleep; it's Jack's current issue.

In the past he was a great eater, but these days the list of foods he will willingly consume is shrinking. Fruit remains a favorite, and Jack loves just about every kind, including blueberries, apples, oranges, pineapple, bananas, mango, grapes, nectarines, and melons. He's pretty flexible about carbs, and likes pasta, crackers, pita bread, waffles, pancakes, bread, and (fortunately) almost any kind of meal or grain blend (particularly oatmeal). Thankfully he eats beets, red peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes, but not much else veggie-wise (and some of those items are technically fruits). When meat, chicken, pork, or fish grace the table, he turns up his nose. Beef in particular is unloved -- he says it looks, smells, and taste bad to him. I've tried fish sticks and plain fish and he'll eat neither. Sometimes he'll eat homemade chicken nuggets but not always. Rice and beans, hummus (from Good Frickin Chicken only) is ok and tofu tolerated when served as Chinese noodles (Hans' speciality). That leaves the old reliable bacon and sometimes ham. Peanut butter used to be a staple but he's been asking for tiny amounts mixed with jelly on his toast. When it comes to milk he's still flexible about that, and is happy with cow, soy, or almond.

I have been worried about him not getting enough protein, but when I did some research I found that his diet is adequate. The amount of protein suggested for kids 4-8 is about 24 grams a day. He can get his daily need by consuming 2 cups of soy milk (14 grams), 1 cup oatmeal (6 grams), and 1 cup pasta (7 grams). Since his baseline is at least that and sometimes more with the addition of nuts and other protein sources, I'm not going to worry about it any longer.

We're trying to be low-key about his food proclivities, to avoid eating from becoming a power struggle. We keep offering him healthy choices, encourage his to try new foods, and praise good habits. Maybe it's typical, but I know if Jack had his druthers he would eat chocolate, candy, and cake all day long. We don't have dessert at our house very often, mostly because when Jack eats a bunch of sugar he has a hard time limiting his consumption. Although we are firm with his limits here, he constantly begs and whines for more. I'd love to hear from other parents about how they manage their kids' diets and desire for sugar.

(photo is Jack eating bacon with his cousin Allison back in September)


Tammy said...

sounds like a normal 4 year old to me.
you could try having a specific day that you have desert. My friend did that when the whining about desert was making her crazy.
I'm pretty sure that kids can exist soely on goldfish however so try not to stress. It's also about what they eat over the course of a week and not each day.
Chayse is a lousy eater and I have had to get over it, she eats non stop when she is about to grow but often eats barely anything.
you just have to remember, it's your job to provide them with healthy choices and it's their job to eat it.
my other thought is does Jack like dipping? or eating with a toothpick? my kids will eat almost anything if it comes on a toothpick ;)

Anonymous said...
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Jesson said...
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JB said...

I'm pretty sure that kids can exist soely on goldfish however so try not to stress. It's also about what they eat over the course of a week and not each day.

James said...
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Anonymous said...

He eats a LOT more variety than my 3 year old! I'd just ignore, ignore, ignore. It only becomes a battleground otherwise, and at this age it's all about asserting independence and feeling like they're in control of at least this one little part of their lives. Some days my son literally eats one 'normal' meal and nothing else all day, but he's growing and has loads of energy, so it must even out in the end!

Jane Huber said...

thanks Tammy! Helpful to hear he's not the only kid who doesn't eat perfectly!

Susan said...

Sounds like you're doing all the right things - keep offering him the healthy stuff again occasionally, and don't make it a big deal. I am blessed with a very easy eater, myself, but he still surprises me sometimes ("I don't eat onions except on Saturday." - what?) I'm sure he would eat sweets and carbs all day if we let him, so one thing we try to do is simply keep it out of the house - out of sight, out of mind! (Note: this is helpful for keeping junk away from Mommy and Daddy too.) If he eats all his dinner and is still hungry, he can have fruit for dessert, but otherwise he has to eat more of his dinner.

Another thing we've started doing now that he's older, is requiring him to sit at the table with us for a certain amount of time, so it's a "family dinner." Often he'll protest beforehand that he's not hungry, or he doesn't like so-and-so that's on his plate. But after a minute of sitting with us and listening to us talk about our day (and joining in: "My day was fine! I played with Margaret") he'll start picking at his food (even the dreaded so-and-so) and eventually eat some or all of it! After a reasonable amount of time (15 min? depends on you) or food consumed we let him get down if he wants.