We have tried everything we can think of to turn our finicky eater in to the "Toddler who eats well" (Which is probably an urban myth anyway). We have served whatever we were eating ourselves. We have tried to serve favorites like blueberries or cheese with the less desirable peas or green beans. I have made vegetables like my southern in-laws - lots of butter and salt. We have tried bribery - everything from "If you eat a bite of this, you can have another bite of that" and "Do you want to get down and play? Just one more bite!" I am not proud of this, just trying to illustrate to what lengths we have gone to try to get our son to eat something with some kind of nutritional value. (No offense to you, Macaroni and Cheese, I just know that your nutritional content leaves a lot to be desired).
Finally this weekend, it all came to a head. Ben was continuing to avoid eating breakfast and I enlisted the help of my husband. During the course of the meal, everyone lost their tempers and two of us ended up in tears. We finally had to acknowledge that NOTHING we were doing was working. It was like trying to slam a square peg in to a very small, very round hole. So we gave up. We let him get down and play.
We finally realized that we were never going to turn him into a veggie lover. Or, for that matter, a meat lover. When he turned his nose up at lunch, we didn't fight him, we just let it go. At dinner time, he was served some of the same meal. This time, he ate. We did the same trick this morning at breakfast. We served a nutritious meal, and he ate what he wanted and then got down to play. At lunch he was served the leftover fruit from breakfast and he gobbled it up, along with last night's chicken nuggets. He turned his nose up at the peas, but hey - they can't all be winners, right? Besides, he's not missing them. He'll see them again at dinner.
This probably seems really permissive, and I don't mean for people to get the idea that he is only eating graham crackers and popcorn. Though I am sure that would be his ideal meal. The stress and aggravation of trying to force-feed him peas or Lima beans just wasn't worth the outcome. Three forkfuls of veggies or chicken cost hour upon hour of anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, guilt, and tears. And Ben didn't like it much either.
I think we are just now learning to pick our battles. That some healthy food is better than none at all. That meals are meant to be enjoyable, not stressful. That a happy relaxed toddler is probably likely to eat more than one that is crying and screaming to get down. Sometimes I think we are w-a-a-a-a-a-y behind the learning curve on this whole "parenting" thing.