Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake: Feeding Part II

Just in case the first 6 months to a year of feeding didn't result in stomach ulcers, there is always a new challenge- feeding toddlers.  A quick trip to the a local San Francisco grocery store may be enough to send you over the edge.  Should I buy the Cheerios, the Multigrain Cheerios, the Organic multigrain Cheerios, or just skip right to the millet?  I can't get the white cheddar cheese, because Elana won't eat white, and don't touch the conventional strawberries unless you have a death wish for your child (you've heard about all the chemicals on strawberries, right?).

If you are having trouble deciding what to make your child for dinner, here is a sample meal plan for toddlers provided by the American Association of Pediatrics:

1 slice wheat bread
1 soft-boiled egg
2 oz orange juice

1 medium apple, sliced
2 oz whole milk

1/2 peanut butter sandwich (1/2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 slice wheat bread)
2 oz whole milk
4 baby carrots, raw

1/4 cup dry cereal
0.5 oz cheddar cheese cubes

1/2 cup cooked pasta
1/4 cup spaghetti sauce with 1 oz lean ground beef
3 broccoli spears
4 oz water

1/4 cup canned fruit cocktail in juice
1/4 cup low-fat fruit yogurt

Here is what my children ate yesterday:

Chocolate croissant from local bakery

Five bites of five different apple slices

4 oz OJ
4 gigantic chicken strips
(Maisy just ate the breading off her strips)

Cheddar Bunnies (they are just fancy Goldfish)
Maisy also had 3 oz of sand at the playground

Three spoonfuls of brown rice with chopped up broccoli, then declared “ALL DONE”
5 oz bathwater

The cream filling from two Oreo cookies

Throw in a booger and finger nail or two and it is a relatively complete diet. 

While I do aspire to be more like this mom: Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento, in the end I usually just slap peanut butter between two slices of whole wheat bread, toss in a squeezable yogurt and a apple, and call it good.  I've hit most of the food groups right? 

A few years back Elana and I visited a good friend with two young children Plano, TX.  After marveling at the size of everything, including cars, stores, roads, and asses, we relaxed in the beauty of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  My friend's eldest had a preschool class party coming up and brought home a sign up sheet for a Thanksgiving Feast.  This is what was on the list:
French Fries
Chips Ahoy
Jelly Beans
Soda (4 large bottles)

For Elana's first year of preschool we enrolled her in a super hippie-trippie, play based, let it all flow, clothes optional, coop preschool.  Here was their sign up sheet for annual Thanksgiving feast:
Whole wheat rolls
Organic beans
Flax seed oil
Green Juice

Well, I am not going to go into a debate over which of these feasts is better, but I will say which one the kids liked better!  But, here is a little food for thought: researchers at Penn State found that restricting a child's access to these "forbidden foods" only increases their desire for them.  In the study researchers divided the kids into two groups, one was given a very limited access to a jar of cookies, and the other was was allowed to eat the cookies immediately off a plate.  They found that when the access was restricted, the consumption of the cookies nearly tripled!
This does make quite a bit of sense to me.  In elementary school I packed the same school lunch everyday: Capri-Sun, Fruit Roll Up, turkey sandwich, and a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritoes to place between the turkey and the bread for added crunch.  Now, I am a relatively healthy adult who just seldomly partakes in a McFlurry.  Ted, on the other hand, was raised on a much healthier menu.  Now, he rarely misses an opportunity to pass by a drive through window.

If it is not what the child is eating, it is if the child is eating enough.  The other day Ted and I took the girls to a local park for a picnic.  Elana was waiting  impatiently for a turn on the swing.  The mother who had been pushing her two year old daughter for nearly 20 minutes looked at Elana apologetically and said "I"m sorry Sweetie, but this is the only way I can get her to eat." Then she shoved a prepackaged crust less PB&J sandwich into the toddler's mouth as she swung forward.  In my head I imagined them waking up at 7 AM and rushing out the door to the park still dressed in pajamas to eat breakfast.  I desperately wanted to say back to her "Really?  You must spend a lot of time here a the park, because that little girl doesn't look like she is missing many meals."

There is a term for these kids that subsist on crackers and air: breathetarians, I prefer to call them "normal".  Isn't that what kids do, assert their power over food?  All day long they are being told what to do, what to wear, when to sleep, but what goes in their mouth is something we have no control over (have you ever tried to pry an 18 month old mouth open and shovel in squash?).  The kids will eat when they are hungry.  I mean, what's the alternative, they starve themselves to death?  That defies human nature.  I have yet to meet a malnourished child in Bernal Heights, and I challenge you to find a middle class 2 year old who is.

By the way, a few minutes later I saw that very mother waiting for her daughter at the bottom of a slide with a cheese stick and a juice box ready to go.


  1. I laughed at the 5 bites of 5 different apple slices. My daughter recently learned that if you cut an apple horizontally through the core you can get a little star of apple seeds. So yesterday it was "I want a slice of apple." I slice it the normal way. "NO! I want the star. I don't want that apple." 2nd apple: "You missed the center... I can't see the star well. Do it again!" I think we sliced up 3 apples, after which she probably ate a total of 3 bites.

  2. I can not stop laughing!! your blog is great!!