It starts when you get pregnant… worry about nourishing your child. Eat this, not that. Am I getting enough iron? Avoid the caffeine. Watch your sugar intake. When your little bundle is an infant you can fret over nursing or formula. Then you wonder if it’s time to start with a little rice cereal. A few weeks pass, and you turn your mind over to baby food: store-bought in a jar, or homemade in a food processor?
Then he turns 5 and all bets are off. He’s picky and choosy just to make you crazy. What do you mean you don’t like it? You’ve eaten sweet potato all your life. You LOVE it!!
In the ongoing battle for more peaceful mealtimes with a kid who talks more than he eats, I’ve turned to psychological warfare. I’m going to influence him away from the table. We will read books about eating well.
I reserved a few books from the library that I was able to mix in with his selections of cheetah and falcon books. One was I Will Never NOT EVER Eat a Tomato. In this book, Charlie tells his little sister Lola that each food is something different and fantastic. By the end of the book, she’s making up her own new names and stories for the foods and trying ANYTHING.
I was really surprised how well JT liked this book. He has asked to read it at least two more times (this is rare for a book of my choosing!) I can’t say that it’s driven him to beg for more broccoli and tomatoes at mealtime, but it’s getting in his head.
The next book is one that we heard at a bookstore storytime that his school sponsored. The principal of his elementary school chose this one and read it with such enthusiasm. JT talked about this book frequently for weeks afterwards. So I added Little Pea to my library reserves to spend some more time with it.
This little pea has to eat all his candy for dinner if he expects to get a treat. He pushes through and eats the meal. He rejoices in the end when he gets all the vegetables he can eat for dessert. This book is winning with positive mental images for vegetables!
One of the books in our own collection that we’ve read over and over is The Runaway Dinner. Who doesn’t adore a anthropomorphic dinner that gets up and runs away before you can eat it?! You can also use it to discuss the benefits of exercise, as well. Though perhaps having a sausage for dinner every day isn’t best for good health. (I read it in the newspaper on Sunday! Eating meat is linked to death. I was eating sausage with my pancakes when I read it.)
More books to influence how your kids perceive food…
Dragons Love Tacos – I got this one from the library because it sounded funny (it is). Also, JT likes dragons but not tacos. I love tacos and am hoping to hypnotize him into loving tacos in order to be more dragon-like. It could work.
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! – A yard sale bargain I bought before JT was born. See, I’ve obsessing over his eating habits for a VERY long time. Mr. McGreely and the rabbits battle it out over the garden. A classic tale for every agrarian society.
A Little Story About a BIG Turnip – A thrift store find I added to our collection. It’s a retelling of a classic Russian tale. I liked the cute names of the characters and the quirky artwork. JT hasn’t really taken to it… but I hold out hope that one day he’ll say, “Hey, Mom, can we have turnips for dinner sometime?”