Monday, December 28, 2009

Operation Eat Your Veggies

After five years of kicking, screaming, crying and moping -- all by me -- I finally had enough and decided that the food issues in this house were going to be addressed -- once and for all. Ask any mom, doctor or food eater in the world and everyone has their own opinion. I think I've heard them all. But this time, it was my opinion I followed and I was determined to do it my way and get results. Let's just say the shiitake hit the fan. I call it...

Operation Eat Your (Freakin') Veggies

Day 1: Broccoli I put a tiny piece of broccoli on the kids' plates along with small bites of other foods they like. As they finished the other pieces, they asked for more.

Eat your broccoli and you'll get more. 

Lucy eats it. Brady and Jacob's plates remain on the table. I just happened to have a sitter that night so I could get some shopping started -- yes, just days before Christmas -- so I instructed the sitter (a mom, herself) that they were to eat nothing else. Before I even got out of the car, I had a text that Brady had eaten his broccoli.

I swear I cried.

The next morning, Jacob came skipping down for breakfast.

"Do you want your breakfast warm or cold," I asked. He looked up to see the broccoli sitting on the plate from the night before and looked completely dejected.

"Warm," he muttered.

After dousing it in syrup and squishing his face up until he was unrecognizable, he ate it.

Sweet victory.

Day 2: Apple Slices I know. You're probably scratching your head wondering why my boys won't even eat apples. They love apple sauce, Jacob ate three juicy red apples while apple picking in New England over the fall but apples have sat night after night in my house, turning brown as adamant cries of refusal pierce my ears.

This time, I tried a new technique. "Just put it on your tongue," I instructed. (It is the gateway to eating, ya know.)

With a small amount of discussion and the threat of never eating anything they like ever again, apples were eaten.

Day 3: Green Beans We were invited to dinner at a friend's house, something that normally sends me into the fetal position, thinking about how my kids will react to actual food. But I was determined to use the experience as a teachable moment. Grilled chicken, mac and cheese and green beans were served. Grilled chicken, mac and cheese and green beans came home with us that night. Grilled chicken, mac and cheese and green beans were served for breakfast the next day. That's when one child was smart enough to know that a fight was pointless and eventually was satisfied that I covered his green beans in peanut butter (I know) and ate it. The other pulled out a trick of his own...

After Brady forces down the green bean, quickly regurgitating it back onto the floor, he looks up at me with a sparkle in his eye, knowing that he won this particular battle. "I threw up... ha ha!"

Doh. I can't compete with that.

Days 4-7: The tortured veggie-eating life got easier and easier with each passing day. We enjoyed pancakes with blended blueberries and flax seed, pureed spinach in homemade pizza, watermelon slices, carrots and Jacob even tried Chinese food. The knock-down, drag-out fights have been replaced with short -- yet firm -- discussions with reminders of treats and happier times ahead. Jacob even ate three pieces of broccoli yesterday and the violent, if not overly-dramatic, gagging that usually accompanies it has subsided, replaced by a silent pause and self-coaching that you can almost hear going on in his head.

Week 2: Tonight, I made their favorite box of crap macaroni and cheese, mixed with a substantial amount of cauliflower. It was devoured in seconds. Speaking of seconds, they even wanted more. I put one small piece of cauliflower on the side to throw them off (They would've suspected something if there were no veggies on the side). That took a bit of work to get them to eat it but eventually -- and with someone requesting syrup -- it made it into the mouth, down the throat and into their increasingly-strong bodies.

I know we're just at the beginning of a very long road but with determination, consistency, and a massive amount of patience on my part, my kids might actually eat like normal little human beings.