I have always been able to proclaim proudly that Tia ate everything we ate. I never had to fight with her about what we were having for dinner. Her favorite foods were things like edamame (Japanese soy beans), tofu, and sushi. People were always amazed. I should mention that she has never liked meat products, even as an infant trying different baby foods. I have pretty much accepted the fact that she is a vegetarian. D.R. and I don't eat a lot of meat so it hasn't been a big deal. The problem is that now she doesn't even eat the things she used to enjoy.
I have asked most of my Mommy friends what they do and this is what I have heard...
My friend Michele says her son has to at least have a couple bites of the main (meat) dish before having any of the sides. This seems to be working for them, although Alexander would still prefer to eat only pasta at every meal. At least he is getting some bites of protein in between.
My friend Dena says Bella has to 'taste' everything they are having at dinner. She lets Bella have a napkin ready in case the taste is particularly yucky, so she can spit it out.
Most moms and experts alike agree that making a separate meal for the child is not a great habit to get into. I was starting to fall into that trap and recently decided to stop. I remember my mom always saying that a child is not going to go hungry if there is food on the table. There has to be something there that she is willing to eat and she is not going to starve. OK, that makes sense. I DO NOT want my kids to grow up with food issues. There are too many young girls with eating disorders these days and I don't want to contribute to that growing problem.
So, here is what I have decided to do, and we will have to wait and see if it works.
The girls get milk every morning and a yogurt every day for snack. This way I know they are getting their protein and calcium. I don't care if it's not from meat products as long as it's protein. For lunch I usually offer her a choice between two things that she is familiar with. At dinner, I make one meal. We sit together at the table as a family. I don't discuss the meal or try to force Tia (Giuliana doesn't need any convincing to eat!) to eat or taste anything. It's there on the table right in front of her. D.R. and I go about our regular dinner conversation and just hope she will go for it. If she only eats rice one night, I guess that's OK for now. Last night surprisingly enough, she ate plain lettuce through the whole meal. I thought it was going to start coming out her ears! I don't want dinner time to be dramatic and tearful. I don't need the stress. Just like with the salad, I hope that if she sees something on the table enough, she will eventually try it and like it. Only time will tell.
**On a side note...today we were looking at the calendar and Tia saw a picture of a turkey on the page for November. I said "you know Thanksgiving is in November and we always eat turkey at Thanksgiving time". Her response was "I no eat turkey. I eat toast". See, she is a vegetarian!**