Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

24 May 2010

How I Won the Vegie War - Part Two

So as I mentioned here, one summer's evening we sat down to yet another dinner with salad, as you do during summer, and I hit the wall.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

And that was the key.  I hit the wall and I was ready to take on the battle.  It's a bit like toilet training which has everything to do with parental readiness to take it on rather than child readiness to see it happen.  It's all about having sufficient strength to have a go and see it through.  And that night I thought to myself, "This child cannot live through Australian summers and not eat salad."

And so we put a piece of carrot on his plate and insisted (nicely, but firmly) that before he eat anything else, he try the carrot.  Eventually he put it in his mouth and sucked it, like an icy pole. Vegetable matter had passed his lips and that was  good enough for day one.

Day two.  Dinner.  Carrot on plate.  It needed to go into his mouth before anything else.  Carrot sucked.  Onto the rest of dinner.

Day three.  Dinner.  Carrot on plate.  Time to take a bite.  Before he ate anything else.  He took a nibble.  A mouse couldn't have taken a smaller bite.  That was good enough for a first bite.

Day four.  Dinner.  Carrot on plate.  A bigger bite.

Day five.  Dinner.  Carrot on plate.  A dinosaur bite.

Day six.  Dinner.  Carrot on plate.  The whole carrot stick.

And then for the rest of the fortnight - a carrot stick before he ate anything else at dinner time.  We did it for a whole fortnight because we figured it was going to be like introducing a baby to new foods - that we would need to present the same food for many days in a row and once it was accepted, then we would move onto something else.

During the second fortnight we added a cherry tomato to the carrot.  Both had to be eaten before anything else on the plate.

We made faster progress with the tomato because he knew the system.  And then we added a slice of cucumber and then a piece of capsicum.  And then we just increased the quantities and threw in the occasional lettuce leaf.

After many weeks, when we were really tired of salad and the weather was cooling down, we moved on to cooked vegies.  This pretty much co-incided with the night I cooked the famous lamb roast.  I just put a bit of everything on his plate, including peas, and he ate the lot without  protest.  And he can now do meat and three veg like a trooper!

It is probably a bit premature to say that I have won this war.  We have nights when we still have to put the food in his mouth.  He baulks at raw tomato - I think there may be a genuine dislike there but I am not ready to cut him any slack just yet, in case he thinks he can transfer that slack to other items on his plate.  During our training we borrowed extensively from a quote from Kent and Barbara Hughes - "We are not asking you to like this food.  We are just asking you to eat it."   But he will sit at a family meal and eat what we all eat - including a full range of raw and cooked vegetables - with some help.  And this will just keep getting easier and better. 

Next campaign?  Operation Fruit.


Helen said...

All I can say is well done Meredith! Well done indeed!!! Having witnessed the darling child in action over his vegetable rejection many a times, I can say you handled the whole thing with grace and dignity! I would have hit the wall sooner than you! Operation fruit? Walk in the park!!

PS - My word verification thingy is LADEN!

Meredith said...

Thanks Helen. I'm saving Operation Fruit for a while until we have consolidated the vegies. But it would be good to get that under control before pre-primary so that he doesn't go hungry five days a week at snack time!

mattnbec said...

Well done! Funny how that worked when trying boot camp just lead to a hunger strike. There's a lot to be said for the slowly-slowly/baby-steps approach.

And God bless Kent and Barbara for that quote! I've used it more than once too.

Caroline said...

Hi Meredith,

Don't know if I should introduce myself, or just launch in, but here goes -

I think you were wise to take it slowly. If you're going to make eating a matter of obedience, it seems to me that what you insist on has to be achievable.

Thanks for your writing, I've read many helpful things here,


Meredith said...

Hi Caroline - thanks for visiting and for your encouragement. Taking things slowly seems to be the key in lots of things. I certainly often feel pressured to be on top of things quickly (the competition of motherhood?) but really, we have plenty of time on our hands, which isn't an excuse to do nothing, but it frees us up to get on top of stuff in an achievable way so that everyone is still friends come bed time.

And Bec - boot camp was interesting indeed. We were kind and calm and didn't prolong meal times, waiting for a certain someone to eat SOMETHING!! He just chose not to eat. He did drink his normal allotments of water, milk and juice over the day and had normal sized breakfasts. And despite no food for the rest of the day, stayed in remarkably good spirits. But he is happier (and he grows!) when we feed him so this is a better option!! :-)

Anonymous said...

This was just what I needed to hear right now and I am gobsmacked by your patience. We have a cereal lover... she does eat some veges and salad, but it is so much easier to give her a bowl of cereal.
Our older ones were basically trained on the 'You don't have to like it but you do have to eat it." sometimes with a side dish of 'Mummy made it so be thankful".
I applaud your method and will begin the campaign (love connotations behind this) tomorrow.
Thanks for sharing your method.
Ally <'v'>

Meredith said...

Hi Ally,

Thanks for dropping in. I feel like I have been visited by blogging royalty.

Don't think me too virtuous. It shouldn't have really got this point in the first place!!

I did decide that this would be a year long project. The salad was SLOW going and I thought the cooked vegies would be similar but it turns out he prefers his veg cooked so that was a breeze by comparison. I think fruit will be like salad...

Your comment reminded me that there was actually an earlier step to all of this, even before the single carrot stick hit the dinner plate. I'll see if I can post the earlier stage this evening.

Thanks again for visiting. I love your blog and all your beautiful creations.

Jean Williams said...

Well done, Meredith. I love it! :) Though I'm glad we never had to quite go through anything like this (ours just ate spag bol one night after 6 months of not eating veges - a spag bol with lots of vege pieces in it) I admire your wisdom, good sense and strategy!

Meredith said...

Thanks Jean. As you know I had been quite worried about this for quite a while but when it came to doing this it was all really pretty straight forward and easily implemented. He was ready. I was ready. And it worked. Praising God for that.