Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Battle of Lasagna

When Luke was about two, I took on the "Battle of the Green Bean" in which I told Luke he had to eat a green bean before he could get up from dinner. I was trying to teach him a lesson in accepting and trying new foods. In approximately a one hour period, I tried everything to get him to eat that bean. I tried to bribe him with candy, movies, activities. I threatened him with time out, early bedtime, no more food, and taking away toys. I refused to give in. It got so bad (and I was so tired of waiting) that when he was distracted by the tv I slipped a green bean into his mouth. Well, he acted like I had poured battery acid on his tongue. He screamed at the top of his lungs as he stuck out his tongue, the green bean perched precariously in his cavernous mouth. Thoroughly fed up with the "lesson", I rolled my eyes, said "Fine" and pulled the green bean out of his mouth. I dried his tears and told him he didn't have to eat the green bean, and he recovered after about a half hour. I had learned my lesson.

I never attempted to revisit the Battle of the Green Bean, and since then my children's diets have progressively deteriorated to a limited menu of hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, pretzels, chips, fish sticks, and pb&j. They'll eat other nasty kid food here and there: graham crackers, yogurt, cheese sticks, etc, but they refuse to eat most of what Chuck and I eat for our main meals, including spaghetti, chicken, vegetables of any kind, fruit (except apples), sandwiches, any type of mexican food, mashed potatoes, eggs, etc. It is very frustrating and rather disheartening with all the publicity regarding childhood obesity. And let's face it, Chuck and I are not predisposed to a healthy weight. I'm not proud of this picky appetite or the fact that I cannot figure out how to resolve it and have pretty much given up trying.

So, last night Chuck decided to take on the "Battle of Lasgna". He didn't tell me we were going to make this drastic change in our children's diets or method of operation, but we tried to do it and I stuck with Chuck's impromptu decision. All the kids had to do was take two bites of the lasagna and if they still didn't like it they could have something else. If they didn't try two bites then they went to bed without dinner. (Chuck's rules). They whined and cried through the whole dinner. I tried to convince them that it had meatballs and Luke likes meatballs. It has cheese and Evie loves cheese. We even tried to remind them that Garfield loves lasagna. And we made a huge show of how much we were enjoying the lasagna. They remained unconvinced and continued to protest in a most annoying fashion.

Luke: "I don't wa-hant it." Evie: "no." Luke sobbing: "Bu-hut, it's not my favorite." Evie: "I want pancakes." And it went on and on, with Luke being the most dramatic in his refusals and Evie rather unemotionally refusing to eat it.

Eventually, we convinced Evie that she could have pancakes if she took two bites of meatball. She did it. No crying, no complaining, no whining. She took two bites, chewed them up, and said, "Yummy." She even tried to convince Luke to eat his meatballs. Of course, she refused to eat any more, but at least she tried it. So, she earned her pancakes and the right to stay up until her normal bedtime and watch Dora the Explorer. Luke, on the other hand, continued his annoying whining, refused to eat any piece of the lasagna and was sent to bed without dinner or any tv. He seemed unphased by it. Children can be so bull-headed. Amazing. We'll see how it goes tonight.


Mary said...

Good luck. The battles are difficult and we have had to learn to choose them wisely.
Amber has always tried things readily and we do not force her to eat anything she does not like. She actually enjoys trying new things, even if she doesn't always like them. I attribute it to genes as I am the same way.
Alexa on the other hand is very stubborn when it comes to trying new things and she does not have the same diet as the rest of us. She tries things sometimes and other times not. We do not force the issue because it is usually more like "The Battle of the Bean." She does not overeat and surprisingly eats fairly healthy. Again, I do attribute it to genes because she is very much like Richard in her tastes and apparently he did the same thing as a kid.
With all of that said - I still think it would be nice if we had done better with Alexa and she actually liked to eat vegetables, but who knows - maybe she would hate it more.

Jennifer Kurzy said...

Hopefully things will get better. Rocky will eat anything we eat, but not always when we eat it. One night he has nothing to do with cooked carrots, another night he can't get enough. We are all that way. I make what sounds good to me for dinner. It might not sound good to Thomas or Rocky. About a month ago, Rocky wasn't eating anything for dinner at nights and I was a bit concerned. Every night he cried for a cookie and refused to eat his dinner. I called day care the next day to see if he was eating, and he was on his 3rd helping, veggies and all. Lately, we have given him the choice, he can eat what we eat or he can have a PB&J. That keeps us from having to make 2 different meals and he doesn't totally get his way. Hang in there!!!

Mary, you will be happy to know that Alexa tried a bite of asparagus and a bite of hominy when she had dinner with us Saturday. Of course the reward was ice cream, but hey, she tried them.

Theresa said...

Let me add that both of our big kids used to eat just about anything. The green bean incident was at a time when Luke was just starting shun the foods he used to enjoy such as green beans. Both of them used to eat spaghetti, vegetables, fruit, and chicken. Somewhere along the way, they lost their appetite for real food.

As for choosing our battles, I do choose my battles. When Luke was young,I decided not to force the issue, but he is older now and it is time for him to start acting that way. Plus, I let them get away with other things like not making their beds, but eating well is something we have decided is important to us. We don't want them to grow up fat. That's why we're getting them involved in dance and soccer right now. We want to start good habits for them.