Fish sticks, canned green beans, and macaroni and cheese. Typically, there are no leftovers when I make this meal. One of my kids has some fairly intense food selectivity, and this is mostly outside of his control. He and I have an agreement. I’ll try to always include at least two foods he is positive he knows and likes and he will work on remembering not to grimace and announce what he doesn’t like. In other words, I’ll make sure there is food he will touch as long as he keeps practicing how to be courteous and gracious to the cook and those eating with him. It’s a challenge for both of us, honestly. A beautiful, gooey mess of cheese and tortellini is virtually unbearable for him, but it’s one of my favorite dishes. I manage these nights by having garlic bread, salad, and black olives, knowing my son will eat the bread and the olives. Chicken pot pie night looks like a pot pie on the table, plus some peas and carrots and some baked crust on another plate, all separated in their own partitions. Chicken fried rice involves a separate bowl with the chicken removed, when possible. Grilled cheese also comes with a grilled peanut butter. I keep peanut butter crackers and applesauce handy for nights when my son just isn’t able to handle dinner. Sometimes, food he knows he likes doesn’t feel right to him. We even have a carton of chocolate meal replacement bottles for times when food is too stressful for him to think about but he needs to eat. My husband and I are modeling how to discreetly move the foods you don’t like to one side of the plate, how to say “no thank you” when a food you don’t want is offered, etc. The simple truth is that meals and food can be very upsetting for my son, and with so many other battles to work through each day, I’m far less worried about whether he eats what I make and more concerned with him learning how to respond in social settings when presented with food he doesn’t like. Fish sticks, green beans, and macaroni and cheese is a meal my son doesn’t fret about. Eventually, we’ll work on using plates that don’t have partitions, since it isn’t particularly kind to ask a restaurant server to make sure that no foods are touching any other foods on your plate. I’ll probably always have cafeteria style trays in my cabinet though, because some nights, we just need to eat with no worries. The days are already filled with enough anyway.
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