I was out and about with my three year old daughter today running errands at a local mall. At around noon she announced she was hungry. This is a big deal because this child is not that interested in food; she prefers to run, climb or play babies. I rushed down to the local food court, which was my only choice in food, to respond to her hunger like a good mom (pediatric dietitian) should. She decided on pasta that had a very light tomato and cheese sauce. I went with the usual, Paradise Bakery Café’s Fire Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup. YUM! I would never even think about ordering a tomato soup in my life before I tried this one a few years ago. Here is the link to locations so some of you can have a bowl too.http://www.paradisebakery.com/store_locations.phpSo I am sitting there watching my daughter eat this sort of plain pasta with an ounce of cheese and very minimal sauce and doing the calculations in my head. Clearly, that pasta needed a nutritional boost. I had this amazing thick soup loaded with tomatoes and other goodness. Perhaps she would agree to pouring some of my soup over her pasta. Here was the conversation.
Me: “How is your pasta honey?”
My Daughter (eating): “Good”
Me (excited): “This tomato soup is delicious and thick just like pasta sauce”
My Daughter (concentrating on her pasta): “Oh”
Me (enthusiastic): “You know sweetie, I have a great idea. We can pour some of my tomato soup over your pasta and mix it in. The pasta will taste delicious and tomatoes make your brain really smart!”
My Daughter (stops eating to look at me): “I’m already smart. I don’t need tomatoes on my pasta”
What can I say? I struggle too. What I did next is what I have all my clients do with picky eaters and that is I offered her one bite of my soup. She knows we like her to try one bite of new foods and so she eagerly took it, actually liked it, but refused anymore. We went about eating our own lunches and I said nothing more about my awesomely delicious soup and her nutritionally deplete pasta. Hopefully one day we’ll both order the tomato soup, but for now the most important thing I can do is plan a wide variety of good meals and snacks without force feeding her and hounding her about her nutrition. I am asking you to do the same with your children.