I know. I'm a terrible mother. I actually don't make them eat the food I cook. I don't send them to bed hungry. I still have nightmares of sitting in the dark at a babysitters' house, with a plateful of these huge white beans that I refused to eat. She turned the dining room light down and left me in there with those damned beans. She wouldn't even give me more water to choke them down with.
People say "oh, don't worry about traumatizing them by making them eat these foods, they won't remember it tomorrow".. oh, I remember.
So I've always been careful with that. Plus, I've always sort of let them eat when they're hungry. They get 20 minutes to eat lunch at school and a few minutes for a snack during the day so when they get home they are quite hungry and I just let them snack. Not on horrible foods or anything. They still snack though.
I've not had huge issues with this however. I know so many people who just hate my method here. I feel like though, that I'm teaching them to eat when they are hungry. My kids are more than capable of saying "I'm not hungry, thanks" and I'm glad for that.
Since I started cooking "real food" though, time is a little more stretched. I am getting more and more tired of making a second meal for Grace and Cate, who I end up feeding slightly earlier than us because of that. Then because Amelia wants to eat with Grace and Cate, she eats what they eat even though she would most often *gladly* eat what we eat (and btw- Amelia and I eat the same thing for lunch, I don't make two lunches when it's just us, so you know.. I got things right with her).
So dinner has just become a little bigger issue. Plus, as is usual with picky eaters and problem eaters, I feel like their small circle of acceptable foods are shrinking. Now, I do 'enrich' their foods. They know this. It's a thing here. Chris even started calling it enriched. "Are the pancakes enriched?" "Is this smoothie enriched?" I add flax, various greens, protein powders (whey and pea), extra eggwhites (to pancakes), etc. They know I do this. They watch me stuff fresh baby kale or frozen spinach into the blender with the fruit and yogurt. They see me dump flax and chia seeds into the pancake batter. While they accept this method in that way, there are several dozen other things that I can't get them to eat. Now, I'm not posting about this because I want someone to fix my family. My family is just that. MY family. Not YOUR family. What works for you may not work for me. It's not like I haven't tried other methods. So your kids eat everything? Good for you.
Whole Wheat Vegetable Quesadillas (100 Days of Real Food, love her!) is what I made for dinner tonight though, for *all* of us. I used sauteed kale and zucchini on whole wheat tortillas with cheese. I served that with their standard 'cheese crisp' side of avocado, Fage 0% (instead of sour cream, try it! It rocks!), broccoli/green beans and a little fruit.
Enough of the sides that if they chose not to eat the quesadilla they wouldn't go hungry. The food itself familiar enough that it wasn't a completely foreign object being thrown at them. They knew about it ahead of time.
Well, they each ate a 'no thank you bite'. Grace actually ate close to an entire little section. In the end however, most of theirs was left. It's a start.
They understand the new program and they know this is not going away. They even know that I'll serve this same thing again next week. And that next week they will have to take another 'no thank you bite', because you know.. sometimes you just have to try things again and again before you realize you like them (or so every damned child nutrition expert says).
It's definitely a struggle. I guess though, that I'm finally ready to take the challenge, and I never was before. I feel like my taste buds have grown up so much in the past 6 months. That I'm so much more open to healthy and clean eating and real food that I want to share that with them.
Plus there is that thing about us giving up meat and while they weren't big meat eaters, well ever, they will be missing some nutrients from that. Some of which will still come from dairy and eggs, but some will be best received from plant-based nutrition.
So wish me luck. I've done a lot of great things for myself over the last half year. Baking our own bread, crackers, peanut butter... making exercise a necessary part of our routine (and letting them know that my needs ARE important where this is concerned), giving up all junk food and fast food.. that is all for them. And so is this. Someday they'll see that.
Right now, I think they're pretty upset. And a little hungry.