Every night when dinner is made, I try to make sure that Ben's plate has a little bit of everything. A protein, a fruit, a vegetable, and a glass of milk. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to prevent scurvy, that seems to be the track we are on. He turns his nose up at every vegetable presented (unless it's mashed potatoes - doesn't count!) and most entrées. When it comes to lunch/dinner type meals he eats a very select number of items: chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, and plain noodles. His side selections aren't much better, I am afraid. He will eat most fruits, french fries, applesauce, yogurt, and cheese. He also refuses to eat anything sticky or messy and will become irate if he gets dirty, demanding "clean! clean!" until he is properly sanitized.
I have discussed this with my pediatrician and she assures me that this is normal for a two year-old. She explained that we shouldn't be too anxious about it and that he will eat better as he gets older. I am sure this is very sound advice, but it doesn't stop me from trying all manner of begging, bribing, cajoling, and threatening to try to get a bite of something healthy across those lips.
Last night, I served broccoli with cheese sauce, sure that the cheese would add the necessary enticement to the broccoli. Nothing doing. So we broke out the big guns and started talking about dessert. There were cookies offered. And then ice cream. Still no bite. The rule in our house has become two bites of everything if you want an "after dinner treat". I find myself frequently saying "at least have a 'no thank-you' bite" and "how do you know you don't like it if you don't try it". I have even trotted out "we are not going to throw all this food away, there are people in this world who don't have any food at all" without the smallest hint of irony. Still nothing. Finally, I insisted that he eat one bite before getting down from the table and everything blew up. There was kicking and screaming and sobbing. There were sad pathetic looks from my husband and, finally, I gave in and let him escape the torture that has become our dinner table.
My husband got up to clear the table and all the while we were having a debate about how to encourage eating without incurring trauma. Meanwhile, Ben had run over to the pantry and was begging "Goldfish! Goldfish!" Already at my wits end I responded VERY firmly "Oh no! If you want goldfish then you are going to eat two bites of broccoli!" He ran right over to me, climbed in my lap and proceeded to eat both forkfuls offered. No further persuasion necessary. Obviously, he knows who is in control. And it's not me.