Food for thought.

I have always been a bit obsessive mindful of DS’ eating habits, paying close attention to the food groups and making sure he had a balanced diet from the word go. Some might consider my behaviour a bit abnormal, I mean, I have been known to stand in the yoghurt aisle for a good fifteen minutes, noting each pot for it’s sugar, salt and saturated fat content.

Knowing this about me, my seven year old sister was a little anxious about staying at my house this weekend. She’s that kid you see in the TV programmes, junk food galore, shunning every vegetable in sight. My mission was to break her down, remove the crisps and replace with fruit and well balanced meals.

It wasn’t as difficult as I first anticipated. I allowed no room for discussion, outlining that her dislike for one thing or another just did not matter. Sometimes children and adults have to do things we don’t necessarily want to. It’s important to embed this young, teaching children to get over things easily, otherwise you end up with an adult who has learnt to be spoilt like me.

I made eating fun, getting DS and my sister to race against each other – who can eat the fastest, who can find the carrot first, who has the biggest chunk of salmon. If they grew tired of the games and receded back to moaning about their meals, I would not even acknowledge that either had spoken. I like to be hard but fair in my approach – speaking to children matter-of-factly seems to work well.

Some would view the spectrum above and believe the best position would be to place themselves in the middle – well balanced, a bit of everything. The stigma of mothers who stand firmly on the right end of the spectrum, is over presumptuous and gives excuses to those who wish they could have done better. Mothers who obsess over healthy eating slave away in the kitchen, they create children who are gagging for a bit of chocolate, alienated by their peers and when they are older they’ll over indulge.

It’s not true. It takes me 20 minutes tops to make DS’ lunch every time. We eat the same dinners. It is just as quick to pick up an apple as it is to grab a packet of salt ridden Walkers. Children who go without are resigned to this fact. When they are older, they will become equally as apathetic. Something went wrong for the children who do over indulge.

Hopefully my prudence will spur my sister on to eat with variety and encourage DS to continue his love for healthy foods. I don’t think I can convince her to steer away from junk food entirely – I don’t work miracles.

GUEST POST: Putting up with the Jones’.

I am very happy to be writing a guest post – thank you!

This story begins just a few days ago, at about tea-time. For context though I’ll tell you something about the day in question – I mean this whole post relies on a mood being set and set right from the start.

So Thursday was my first day off mid-week with DS for over a month; I had a dentist appointment and afterwards picked him up from nursery to spend some real quality time. I’ve just started to work for a company in central London, where my hours are long enough to mean that some days I wake before DS, but get home when he’s asleep. It breaks my F. heart; I used to be at-home-dad! Without sounding too corny – I mean, I am pretty loose with masculinity to be honest – but anyway, without being too corny, I preferred being a ‘male mum’.

So there it is, it’s Thursday, and this previously lovely next door neighbour decides to cause a scene. I am in the kitchen and I’ve just finished feeding DS. DS is still in the high chair watching CBeebies. Patricia steps into her garden and I haven’t seen her because I’m facing the other way. Patricia’s usual bubbly tone is absent, she doesn’t flinch, but her lips purse just enough to mumble out a rogue wave.

Is DS all right?

Hello?

I didn’t hear her and I’m still happy, besides DS has eaten well. A parents mood usually mirrors their child’s diet; the more buoyant the tummy, the more buoyant the behaviour. Patricia decides to repeat herself. I can see now that a thick layer of rhetorical positioning was being employed here. Setting yourself up for a volley was never deemed skillful on the playground at school and I don’t have much time for it these days either. I didn’t know it right then, but she was about to hit the volley quite square and quite firm at just about head height.

Is DS all right?

Oh hiya! Yes, he’s a bit moany, but he’s fine.

He’s been crying for one and a half hours…

Well, he’s going through his terrible twos stage, trying to show me who is boss, and a few other things going on too.

Yeah but don’t you give him a hug or anything?

Excuse me?

Don’t you give him a hug?

What the F.? This sweet old person has turned out to be an interfering lady-dog. I feel red in the temples, not the cheeks, and it burns too; somehow my blood is simmering when it reaches head height. I don’t know how to respond to someone I have spoken to like a ‘nice old person’ for two months while living here. I mean, now that I’ve had time to think, I remember that there are only two types of old people: cute and humble, or grumpy and rude. I need to tell her to F. off, but I love the moral high ground too much to let her ruin my composure. I’m not embarrassed by her accusation, I’m embarrassed for her.

Actually I don’t appreciate this line of conversation, Patricia.

Well I live next door and I hear him crying all the time.

I know, but when he is being difficult I ‘do’ the ‘parenting’.

Well are you? Because..

Patricia, I don’t have to stand here and… actually, I don’t have stand here. Goodbye Patricia.

I close the door and Patricia shouts something that is made incoherent by the pane (window pane that is). I’m not used to this, being young and rather innocent – I mean, in the sense that I don’t ever see aggression coming. I expect people to be pleasant by default. It’s a downfall of mine that makes me vote left and respect old people. One of those tendencies is under review – ever since the Lib Dems created a Tory coalition that is.

C.B.

Bowling for Fruit.

As you can see, this is my fruit bowl. It consists of:

3 bananas

5 pears

4 plums

5 apples

There are also a bag of grapes and box of cherries in the fridge.

I must be honest, I barely eat any of this. The bananas are mainly for DH to take to work, however the rest are consumed by a very tiny boy with a big appetite. DS’ favourite is a classic; apples. I try to vary the types of fruit he eats, but it is difficult with a boy who has eczema. Oranges are a definite no go and other citrus fruits are in a bit of a grey area. He has tried exotic fruits like mango and dragon fruit, but they were not a great hit and I am tentative to give him anything too exotic in case it makes him itch. Sometimes he will reject particular foods because of its colour or texture, which does not bode well for strawberries. I always try to incorporate them into yoghurts, slicing them into tiny pieces so it is barely noticeable. Although the older he gets, the harder it is to fool him.

I feel almost ashamed of my own fruit intake (DS’ leftovers), justifying my unhealthiness as a sacrifice for DS’ wellbeing. Let’s ignore the fact I could simply buy more fruit.

Quick Fix.

As you know, I am rather pernickety when it comes to DS’ diet. Pizza is not something I would usually allow, however when it is homemade you know exactly what goes in, and what stays out. I am not a big fan of pizza bases, so I use ready rolled puff pastry. You can also buy ready rolled pastry especially for pizzas if you prefer. These can generally be found in the same aisle as butter in the supermarket; it took me quite some time to figure this out.

Making a pizza only takes ten minutes and it is self-explanatory so I will avoid going into too much detail. The main parts are the base, tomato purée, toppings and cheese. I use this as a great opportunity to add healthy toppings DS would not normally eat; as it all fuses together into the melted cheese, DS is oblivious of what he is actually eating. It is not that he dislikes the taste of certain food, but he finds the colour or texture most peculiar. If he was a talking child and you asked him whether he liked red peppers, he would probably say no. Little does he know, he eats these on a regular basis. I am not convinced when children say they dislike particular foods. Fussy eaters start from an early age, especially when parents make a point of avoiding certain foods.

Before

After

I also made roast potatoes and peas to accompany the pizza. Depending on how you chop the potatoes, you can also make wedges. Once chopped boil until soft, then add a generous dash of olive oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper. I sometimes add herbs such as basil, sage or parsley, when it is fitting. When all the seasoning has added, put the lid on the pan and shake; this makes the potatoes fluffy once cooked. Place in the oven at gas mark 7 (200 degrees Celsius) for 30-40 minutes, or until golden.

Yummy in my tummy.

Morning – Milk

Breakfast – Porridge Oats made with cow’s milk
Milk

Lunch – Potato, sweet potato and carrot mash (including butter and cow’s milk) with spinach
Milk

Snack – Toast with fresh avocado spread on top and avocado slices

Dinner – Haddock, red peppers and onion with cous cous
Milk

I love a whole day of being Mummy : )