By Karen Green
Last week, I was cleaning out my daughter’s lunch box after school, and three-quarters of her lunch was still in there, a warm, mushy mess. Watermelon chunks, red pepper strips, expensive, nitrate-free roasted chicken slices and cheese cubes. Uneaten. Cherry tomatoes were left half-chewed. The crackers and yogurt-covered raisins were, not surprisingly, gone.
This was happening more and more often, and gazing at the sludge of wasted food, I was dismayed. My kid used to be a kid that ate, and ate well. My kid was a kid that had never tasted McNuggets, but loved sashimi and seaweed salad; ate quinoa and spinach with no complaint, and used to eat cold tomato soup for breakfast, then ask for broccoli for dessert. And now?
All of a sudden, my kid is a picky eater. And I am having trouble handling it.
At nearly seven years old, I’m not sure if my daughter has lost her taste for all the good (read: healthy) stuff she used to eat, or if she has simply discovered all the other (read: junky) stuff that also exists. When hungry for a snack, she will dismiss every single option I offer, and I know it’s because she is holding out for junk. Why say yes to grapes or yogurt, when she knows that there are cookies somewhere? Compromise comes with much effort.
Making it all the more disappointing for me is the reminder of how things used to be, by way of my four-year-old daughter who will still happily munch on an apple, regardless of whether or not she knows that there might be ice cream in the freezer. I really do keep the amount of junk we eat to a minimum, preferring that treats actually be treats, but it’s like the doors to the world of unhealthy options have been opened for my daughter, and I have no idea how to entice her back to the land of organic greens and almond butter.
I try not to make food an issue, but I have literally spent years instilling good habits and a love for a wide variety of foods in my children, and in one school year (yes, I am partially blaming the Dunkaroos and Lunchables of her classmates), all of those efforts seem to have evaporated. But the worst part is, it was not really an effort at all. My daughter was a bona-fide, natural, good eater. And now?
Now she’d rather have cheese that you eat with a stick than my home-made kale chips, and I’m left weeping in my soy milk.
Anybody have any tips?
Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of canadianfamily.ca.