By Maasi Wajo
Try to visualize the dinner table scene from last night (if your kids do prefer dinner tables, that is). Recall how your fussy eater left all his Aaloo gobhi and just vehemently ignored the khana (food) altogether. Or how every time you tell them that you’ve made veggies for lunch they automatically want to order pizza. This was how it was like in my household until recently.
I have a 7 year old daughter whose fussy eating ways have given me quite a lot of trouble and for the longest time I was unaware of what I was doing wrong. But when I actually sat down to think about it, I found a couple of things that needed my immediate attention…
- My home cooked meals lacked variety. Seriously, my own eating habits are not much to write home about. I don’t like mutton and beef, avoid fish like plague and prefer rice to everything else in the world. Oh and pizza. I was having pizza delivered every couple of nights or so! Hence unknowingly, I was the one who was slowly turning my daughter into a junk lover and it was too late before I noticed.
- Secondly, in my house some alternative to dinner is almost always available, which is increasingly common in many Pakistani households these days, owing to a large number of people living together and differing food preferences. So if B didn’t like what was being served for dinner, I would make her Nutella or Peanut Butter sandwiches— just to get her to eat something. I was being too lenient in my mothering ways and B was gradually becoming a finicky eater.
These are the steps that I am taking these days to tackle (to some extent) these issues! Read on…
- So I am ‘trying’ to change my own eating habits, which is very challenging for me, to tell you the truth. This week I made beef kebabs and fish fingers, which B outrightly rejected at first, but ended up trying at least one fish finger and a (very) little bit of kebab, which was surely a huge feat in itself! I think introducing them gradually to food that they’re not used to is important.
- Another thing that I am doing these days is that I try and eat with the kids, on the dining table. And I make sure to convey it them that whatever is being served is the only thing they’ll get to eat. Again not the easiest of things, in fact it might be tantamount to entering a warzone. But it is working with B and it might work with you as well!
- I’m trying to keep nicely cut kheeray (cucumbers) in my refrigerator all the time for my kids. Because they tend to look for “stuff” to eat whenever they feel hungry and it is so much better to have fruit and salad veggies available most of the time, rather than to rely on packaged food like crisps/nuggets et al.
- Oh and another thing, I also make a couple of things and freeze them so that I have something available on days when I don’t feel like cooking (which are many I assure you). This Saturday I made baingan (brinjal) curry, daal masoor/moong (lentils) and chicken curry masala and froze them in small plastic boxes. Made life much easier.
Now I must confess that I’ve not yet reached anywhere concrete with B as far as her eating habits are concerned. And this regimen in no way guarantees a miracle. But it’s still a start and well, surprise surprise, she does eat her Aaloo gosht now, if only with half a chappati or so! So yeah, do try these. And let me know if they work.
Oh and good luck!