So many things change when we have kids, don’t they? Our nights, our brain capacity, our bodies, our tolerance limit regarding silly behaviour in public, our time in the restroom…Mama on the rocks, one of my regular blog readings, now asks about our strategies to feed our kids and how our way of eating has changed since we became parents.
Has anything changed since the kids were born? You bet it has! We have to hide the chocolate now! We are back to the old days when we had to sneak into the kitchen to nibble some sweets without my mom noticing it. Only that I am the mom now. But how can you explain a two year old girl that she really shouldn’t eat as much chocolate as her father (who once did his weekend shopping and bought bread, milk and ten different types of chocolate). And hey, that little girl has an excellent sense of hearing. When I try to secretely eat something she knows it without even looking at me. With her back facing me she immediately asks “What are you eating right now, mom?”. She’ll make a perfect mother one day….
But our way of eating has also changed in a positive way. I think it is safe to say that we are paying much more attention to fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy stuff. Which might not go without saying when cooking for small children. Even the daycare in our town surrendered and decided to cook the typical kids menu (pizza, pasta….you name it) because they don’t want to throw away all the vegetables every day. Disputable decision, I think, but well…The point is that every kid is different and you never know what kind of an eater your child will turn out to be.
Karsten, for instance, once stated in kindergarden that his favorite food is lobster. He was three years old and probably the only one in the room who had actually eaten lobster (because his family had spent some time in the States before). His favorite food when being sick was cooked carrots. And he liked savoy cabbage.
I, on the other hand, didn’t eat cooked vegetables at all. Except potatos. My mother always used to put a bowl with uncooked vegetables next to my plate so that I’d get my vitamins, but I was difficult regarding food, for sure . Even Karsten experienced it when he wanted to make me dinner for the first time (the poor guy was completely shocked when my friend told him a few hours before dinner that I actually don’t like Aspargus. However, I fell deeply in love with Aspargus that evening. Among others.).
It was therefore exciting to find out how the little one would deal with food. Would she be as picky as I used to be?
Well….the answer is a definite no. Not at all. That kid is amazing when it comes to food. (Most parents will probably curse me when reading the following. So attention: chorus of praise is about to follow)
When she was one year old, she knew exactly where to find the strawberries in our garden. When I picked a cucumber, half of it would already be gone before we made it back to the flat. Same with the carrots. She even picks peppermint leaves, dill or parsley to nibble just because she is curious how it tastes. There was a time where I would just have to follow the smacking sounds when I was wondering where she was. She’d be the typical Stone Age gatherer. Except that the food would have probably be gone by the time she’d reach the cave.
I do appreciate it so so much! Whenever we visit someone and get asked “What does the little one eat? Shall we buy something special for her?” I can just answer “Nope, she’ll eat everything!”. And that’s how we do it. She eats what we eat. And we always let her try. In Scotland, she nibbled everything, including mussels and haggis. Of course her favorites vary. In January, for instance, she was totally into satsumas. She would eat up to four or five at once. After a few days, satsumas were completely off the menu again (and who could blame her after eating so many). Right now it’s the same with apples.
Slowly but steadily there are more and more things that she doesn’t really like. She doesn’t like it too spicy, for example. And she doesn’t like mushrooms. But normally, I am not cooking anything special for her. If she doesn’t like what’s on the table, she will only eat a little bit. If she is still hungry, she’ll go and grab an apple or I’ll give her some yoghurt or bread instead.
Now don’t be fooled. Of course she loves pizza and pasta. Her favorite meal is noodles with ketchup and cheese. If you let her choose between chocolate, apples and potatos she will most definitely pick the chocolate. And – against the common believe of her grandparents – she does get her daily sweets! But she will, to the absolute delight of my mother, also say things like “Mmmmh, mangold quiche….yummy!!”. Can you believe it? Sometimes, I am struggling to do so. Is it really my child?
The interesting question is: HOW? How did we do it? Is it innate? Is it her personality? Or have we, god beware, actually done something right? My ego is jumping up and down in the background, shouting “Yes! Yes! Three cheers for mommy!”. My reason is standing next to it, smiling and saying “What a nonsense. It’s pure luck. Wait a few months or years and she’ll throw your mangold quiche right back at you!”. Whatever they say, fact is: Foodwise our life is still really relaxed right now. The only pedagogic strategies that I try to follow are: no snacks an hour before lunch or dinner (and while I prepare dinner I often put a bowl of raw vegetables on the table which will miraculously empty itself within a few minutes). And normally we don’t hand out sweets before going to bed. Apart from these two guidelines I am not stressing myself out anymore.
And the hobbit? Well, he just started to eat mashed carrots and mashed potatos. We took pictures when he had his first carrot mash: every picture a different expression of disgust…fascinating, really! Right now he eats his mashed vegetables, but his enthusiasm varies quite a lot. I am curious how it’ll be like in a few months. But him eating mashed vegetables does come handy, you know? Because the little one is still wallowing in her “I am a little baby”-phase which means that she is really keen on eating the same stuff that the hobbit eats. Sure, there you go, my darling, here’s your mashed turnip….
One thing that really changed with the kids is the time for preparing food. Which automatically influences the type of meals. With two kids in the kitchen there is no time to prepare anything fancy. I can manage to cook some vegetables and noodles while the little one jumps around my legs and the hobbit demands some fooling around every 30 seconds. I can even manage it when my husband decides to rest on the kitchen floor. (This doesn’t happen too often, I am glad to report). Because somehow I am acting like a magnet when preparing dinner: within a few minutes, all members of my family will gather around me in a one meter radius. So the good food normally happens on the weekend with enough time and leisure to prepare it. One day, the kids will be old enough to entertain themselves while I can cook our meals in peace again. But I am sure: it’ll probably also be the day when they’ll start a mutiny and demand the number of the local pizza delivery service. So for the moment I am happy to prepare healthy food, even if one can’t really tell what it is by the look of it
Ps: I do eat cooked vegetables by now. And all kind of other food. I even like it. I have to…..after all, I can’t expect the little one to eat healthy if I am not participating, can I? (There was a time when we would buy cooked vegetables for the little one while ordering french fries for ourselves, hehe. But that was when she was too little to notice.)
But if you dare to serve me cooked carrots when I am sick, I’ll kick you out.