The pressures of healthy eating

When I had James I thought I would be able to make lots of healthy home cooked meals for him.  I wanted to give him the best I could.  This vision, like many other visions I had in pregnancy quickly diminished.

James started to become interested in what we were eating at around 4 months.  I took this as a sign that he was getting ready to be weaned and at 5 months we started weaning him.  I was keen to go down the more traditional route of purees (partly because I looked forward to making them).  I had heard of baby led weaning but wasn’t really sure what it was and I didn’t feel confident to take on the BLW approach.

I bought myself the Annabel Karmel Baby and Toddler Meal Planner book.  It was great.  I would make the purees and follow the meal planner in the book for each age group.  It all sounded so simple. Making the purees wasn’t always that easy with a clingy baby, and one that also screamed at the noise of the blender.  He still cries at the noise of the blender now.

IMG_0955When it came to eating the purees James usually had a couple of mouthfuls and then they went in the bin.  He really wasn’t interested in them.  I mean some of them did taste disgusting but others actually tasted quite nice.  It was frustrating.  I wanted my baby to eat well.

As the months went on I moved through the Annabel Karmel recipes, in the hope that he might like something.  We had moved on from purees and were now onto mashed food. I got excited once as James ate the chicken curry I had made him,  typically he refused it the next time.  The meals I was making were more complex than the purees.  They were taking more time, more ingredients and more effort and still ending up in the bin.  I was losing enthusiasm for them.  I needed to find something that James would actually like and eat.

I started trying him on finger foods.  These were more of a success.  He loved, and still loves Ella’s Kitchen Melty Puffs and the Kiddylicious blueberry wafers.  I did feel bad though when I would be giving James these snacks, when other kids would be eating fruit. On bad days he has been known to just eat Melty Puffs for lunch.  We also went through a phase where he would only eat toast, and even now he will only eat peanut butter on toast for lunch.  I’ve tried other spreads and they just get thrown on the floor.  Before he puts the toast in his mouth he prods it with his fingers to check it not only looks like, but feels like peanut butter. He will not be fooled.

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We eventually found that James liked chicken nuggets.  I then started to try him on other breaded foods – fish fingers, scampi and various Birdseye chicken products.  He ate them and that was great, but it was all he would now eat for tea, along with mashed potato and beans or spaghetti hoops.  It wasn’t really the healthy homemade food I had hoped I would be bringing him up on.  We continued to try him on other things but they would all get rejected.  I don’t believe he dislikes a lot of the foods we give him to try, I think he has simply found his favourites and will now only eat them.

I often beat myself up about James’ eating.  I try to figure out if I did something wrong.  Has he inherited my own fussy eating? Would he have been a better eater if I had done BLW? There are so many Instagram accounts showing children eating all sorts of wonderful foods and I go through periods just wishing he would have more variety in his diet.  I see children having fruit for their snacks, while my child has melty puffs or wafers.  The only fruit James will eat is raisins, anything else he won’t even put in his mouth. At toddler groups I don’t even attempt to get him to eat the snacks.  He will only play with them and then throw it on the floor.

The pressure to get your child to eat healthily is everywhere, but what can you do if your child is just unwilling to try new foods? I think James is too young to be given something and then not be given anything else if he doesn’t eat it.  There is so much in the media about the importance of healthy eating, which puts so much pressure on parents, especially if you really want your child to eat well, but they simply won’t.  I set up the one_fussy_eater_to_another Instagram account to try to show that not all children eat a variety of healthy food, like we so often see on other accounts.   James is eating and maybe I should celebrate that.  I don’t think me stressing about what he is eating will do either of us any good.  I am hoping that over time, and when he understands more that maybe he will want to try more foods.  In the meantime, I was brought up on similar foods to James and it hasn’t done me any harm.

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