Saturday, March 20, 2010

Veggies? Yuck mom!

Sometimes being a mom can be so hard. Before I had my son I had all these ideas abouthow I was going to be the perfect mother.
  • I was never going to let my son have junk food.
  • I would breast feed until he was a year old.
  • He wouldn't be allowed to watch TV, especially at meal time.
  • I wouldn't be one of those mothers who let him eat nothing but chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
I was so sure that I knew it all and it would all work out that way. Then after I had my little angel I had my best laid plans go awry. It turned out that my son was born with a neurological disorder that caused him to have very low muscle tone at birth, He would have episodes where he would be unresposive for 12+ hours with repetitive vomiting. It was too hard for him to suckle, so breast feeding was out. He lost a full pound of weight the first week he was born, and went from the 98th percentile to the 5th in one month. But with persistance and special bottle nipples I was able to get him to start gaining a little at a time. I became obsessed with how many calories he was taking in. I had to set an alarm to wake me at 3 am so I could make sure that he had a feeding. When it came time to introduce solid food, we had similar trouble. After much patience and persistance we were able to get him to take to purees, but getting him to eat actual solid table food was very challenging. It turns out that part of his disorder included oral defensiveness. He won't tolerate certain textures and has a hard time chewing and swallowing.

Through trial and error we found a few things that he really likes. Strong flavors like spicy food kind of "wake up" his mouth making it easier. My go to foods that I can always count on him eating are pizza, hot dogs, breakfast burritos, chicken, taquitos, noodles with tomato sauce, yogurt and applesauce.  Occasionally I can get him to eat fried eggplant, battered green beans, fish sticks or french fries; but they're hit or miss items. We give him a multi vitamin in the morning and a bottle of pediasure at night.

I know, I know!  I have to take away that last bottle soon, after all he's turning 2 next month. But I'm a worry-wart over the whole thing.

He won't eat plain veggies at all. I can usually get him to try a green bean or broccoli or peas, but as soon as the first one hits his mouth he's spitting it out and making faces. So I sneak veggies into his food. I buy yogurts with pureed veggies like squash and sweet potato mixed in. I buy carrot apple juice. I put spinach on his pizza and buy special "garden" noodles that promise a full serving of veggies (not sure if I believe the last one).

So what does this have to do with weight loss? Well I'm afraid that I'm setting him up for a lifetime of bad eating habits.

For the last two years I have been consumed by his weight and worry over getting him to have adequate intake. I confess that in my panic over his calories I didn't care if they were empty or not. I often give him a pudding cup or cookies to make up if he eats a meal poorly. I mix pediasure into every cup of milk he gets during the day, so now he won't drink milk unless it is sweetened and tastes like vanilla.

His weight is ok now, we've managed to get him back into the 25th percentile and physical and occupational therapy seem to have helped him overcome some of his troubles. I want to get him to eat a healthier menu including fresh veggies.

Most of all I want to stop obsessing over every bite of food he has. I literally still calculate in my head how many calories he takes in at each meal. For example if I know 1/4 cup of his pasta has 50 calories and there were approximately 7 noodles in 1/4 cup there are approximately 7 calories per noodle. So if he only eats 3 noodles he got 21 calories. I do this all day long. I call my husband 4 times a day during the week to ask him how much he ate while I'm at work.

He's becoming more aware of everything now. And I don't want to give him an unhealthy attitude about food, especially so early in life. I'm trying really hard not to push him to keep eating. But I have to tell you all that when he eats nothing and says he's done, it sends a shiver of panic through me and I can't help myself from offering him a yogurt or apple sauce or ANYTHING to get him to eat.

I'm so afraid that my neurotic attitude is going to keep him from recognizing his own hunger signals and some day he is going to end up with his own blog and blaming me for all his weight troubles.
So I'm trying, but it's a struggle. I'm such a control freak, it's really hard for me to hand over that control to a 2 year old.

What do you think? How much of your current weight troubles are the result of habits learned in childhood?


  1. Wow. I'm so sorry. Sounds like you need to talk to his doctor about this and probably a therapist, too. I don't feel qualified. Except to say that I believe no two year old, healthy or not, should control his own diet. True, you can lead a horse but you can't make them drink. So it's your job to make sure that its the most nutritionally sound items that are his choices. You are wise to sneak the veggies in; I know there are books on the market written about that, that might give you better ideas. I also wonder how much of this is normal two year old behavior about food choices, and not just his medical condition? I suspect the two are inter-twining. Hang in there, and don't beat yourself up so much. As parents, all we can do is the best we can do, based on the best medical advice we can garner. No parent is perfect. :: hugs ::

  2. My just turned 3 year old is SO SO SO picky. I just put out good choices and he either eats or doesnt't. He usually chooses to eat something. And, I also give him the occasional treat without guilt. He doesn't have a weight problem, I do. I try not to transfer that to him. Having said that, I can't imagine what I would do if I had experienced the same things you have development wise with your child. My advice: try not to stress, don't push the veggies, offer them but slip them in the sneaky way (I love the book "Deceptively Delicious". And just do your best. That's all any mom can do!

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    I am a twenty-something, first-time-blogger. I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Shopping in my closet is like going to the GAP-- I have jeans from size 2 to size 16. My weight can fluctuate by 100 pounds. And because of this, I have been afforded the opportunity to live many types of lives over the past ten years. At my thinnest, I was model signed to a major agency in Miami. As I gained weight, I switched focus from my looks to my smarts. I graduated from law school and started working as an attorney. Now, 100 plus pounds heavier and bona fide waddler, my memories of photo shoots and the glamorous life are a distant fog. Please join me on my journey from model to waddle and hopefully back again.