Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Food Question

I’ve been wrestling for a while with when we should all eat the same thing for dinner every night.  This is a somewhat difficult question in our family anyway, since I’m vegetarian and Lance isn’t; since I’m a “picky” eater, and Lance isn’t; and since I also tend to be dieting endlessly...but for those nights when the two adults are, in fact, eating the same thing, should Judith also be “required” to eat only that? 

Sometime last fall, I instigated “family dinner time” during which we all sit at the table together, and no one leaves until everyone is finish eating (yes, some dinners get very long as we wait for Judith to finish!).  This began as an attempt to change our habit of eating dinner in front of the TV every night, but it also quickly occurred to me that it could be a way to “encourage” Judith to eat what we eat.  That’s easy when we’re having pita pizzas or grilled cheese or quesadillas.  Even make-your-own salad night works, because I can put together a plate of the things she likes out of the salad choices (and she’ll eat just about anything dipped in ranch dressing!).  My dilemma comes on a night like tonight.  Lance and I had beans and rice (a favorite of ours: sautéed mushrooms, garbanzos, kidney beans, black beans, and canned tomatoes, served over brown rice and garnished with sour cream or grated cheese).  Judith had cheese and crackers and a banana.  I’ve never offered her the beans and rice dish, because I know (assume?) she doesn’t like mushrooms or tomatoes (at least she hasn’t yet).  She’s tried a garbanzo bean once or twice, and not minded it, but not asked for more.  So I go the easy route and make her a separate meal (easy in terms of getting her fed, not easier to make). 

And I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.

At almost-three-and-a-half should she be eating beans and rice?  Should I make the “rule” that she eats what we eat and there’s no other option?  (Then how do I explain that Daddy and Mama don’t eat the same things?)  Or do I continue to do what I’m doing:  serving her what we’re having when I know she’ll like it (pushing the boundaries on occasion) and making a separate meal for her when I know she’ll refuse the adults’ option?

Her “acceptable food” list is pretty varied compared to a lot of the stories I’ve heard:  lots of cheese, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, quesadillas, pizza, macaroni and cheese, just about any fruit, greek-style yogurt, granola, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, sautéed or grilled chicken, olives, pickles, tuna fish sandwiches, pumpkin soup, tomato soup, french fries, ranch dressing...  (And of course, given my semi-profession, she’s quite adventurous when it comes to dessert. :-) 

On the “don’t like” side she includes most meat (which is pretty understandable given how infrequently we actually have meat in the house), tomatoes, avocado/guacamole, mushrooms, sharp cheeses...  And she will predictably turn up her nose completely at something she hasn’t had before.  We explain frequently that she can’t say she doesn’t like something if she hasn’t tasted it, but she’s unlikely to taste anything on the first try...or even the fifth try.  (In fact, I have really no idea what makes her eventually taste something at all!) 

So I know that the nights she gets served something new she won’t eat dinner.  In theory I know it’s not a horrendous thing for her to miss a meal, but it can be frustrating to “waste” food getting her to try it, enforce “this is your dinner,” and know that she’s still hungry!

So this remains a dilemma.  I am thankful that she eats more than one specific food.  I am thankful that she is healthy.  I am (usually) willing to continue to make her a separate meal several times a week.  So it’ll probably be a while before I come to a decision.



Despite the number of times in a day that Judith asks to watch "Diego", she really does like to play.  One of her favorite toys is a piece of string ("snake") from one of my current crochet projects.  Recently she's gotten a hold of a few pieces of Lion Brand homespun, which is made up of several thicknesses of string wound together.  She's unwound the edges into a "tail" and decided that they're mermaids.  Two of them accompanied us to the grocery store yesterday, with the understanding that if Mama had to hold them, they'd be thrown away.  They made it home from the store just fine, but Daddy threw one away last night, and we'll see how long it takes for Judith to notice that it's missing.

We were thrilled to have Grandma Sandy accompany Grandpa Tim last night on his weekly visit to play computer games with Daddy.  Judith had a playmate for the whole evening, and Mama had a little break!  They played Candyland, which Judith got for Christmas.  Here too, her imagination is blindingly evident - "Tinkerbell" has to play with Grandma and Judith, and takes her turn every time as well.

Grandma also helped Judith open the easel that she got for Christmas.  It's got a chalkboard on one side, and a magnetic white board on the other.  Judith had a great time lining up the included alphabet magnets by color.  We tried to help her make words, but she was pretty set on colors needing to be together, and there's only about half the alphabet in each color.  We'll have to purchase some chalk and some dry-erase markers to go with the easel.  Neither were included, although an eraser was!

Step-Count Update:
I was planning to begin a recurring section periodically tracking my steps this year, but, sadly, I dropped my pedometer yesterday afternoon, and the sensor is broken...it doesn't count steps!  So this item's on hold until I get a replacement or find something else :-).