Friday, June 3, 2011

How to Teach Your Kids NOT to Eat the Food You Make

Jack Sprat would eat no fat,
His wife would eat no lean.
And so between the two of them
They sat and whined in their seats.

(What? That's not the way that nursery rhyme goes?)

There is nothing better than an expert talking about things in which she has excelled. And so it is with my extreme experience that I present today's lesson.

1. Do NOT Feed Your Young Child What You Eat for Dinner.
This is the best way to ensure years of dinner table battles, culminating in a diet of peanut butter, honey, Frosted Flakes, and ketchup for your youngster. Perhaps in your child's youngest year it will not seem to be effective, but by about 18 months, you'll begin to see progress. The child will eschew vegetables, meats, and sometimes even fruit in favor of bread, cereal, dessert, or things that have been stuck to the floor for days.

2. Bribe.
It will help further if you then try to encourage your child to eat a certain food (say rice or corn) by adding sugar or ketchup to it. The child will stalwartly refuse to eat the sugarified/ketchified food, and will then begin to demand sugar and/or ketchup on all other foods that you place in front of him. When he becomes older, you can involve money or toys in your bribery arsenal, ensuring that your child will never ever consider your food worth consuming without substantial initiatives. It will also help if you begin to purchase pricey nutrient-free foods labeled as 'snacks' or even better 'lunch.' Your child will quickly begin to request and then demand them at all meals.

3. Worry.
You can worry about your child is not getting enough to eat. You can worry about having an unpleasant dinnertime atmosphere. You can worry about what the other mothers will say or think. You can worry that he will not gain weight and that your doctor will glare at you like you are possibly the most incompetent creature he has ever beholden, lower even than his own pet hamster. There are so many great things to worry about that you should be able to find one (but why stop at one?). Whatever it is, be sure to worry about it a lot. Try to lose some sleep over it and perhaps drive your spouse to alcoholism by discussing it ad nauseum. This will ensure the child lots of power when he picks about (or simply dumps out) his plate.

4. Take the nutritional advice of every creature over the age of 16 regarding what you should feed your child. You mother and mother-in-law may have a lot to say about it (Note: Mine did not--thank you grandmas). Your doctor will contribute the two cents he remembers from the 3 classes about nutrition he was required to take. The overweight social worker at your WIC office will have tons of valuable advice to pass your way. The FDA will provide guidelines that cost them 2 million dollars to promote (and which sound eerily similar to the four food groups). And I bet if you discussed it with your neighbor's dog, he could recommend a couple great books by Dr. Laura. Try to incorporate all this advice into your eating regimen, fail or see it fail, and then revert to Tip #3. Try to consult as many uninformed sources as possible. Do not consult a book on nutrition or read Internet articles about it. Do not develop your own informed decisions about what foods and what methods of feeding are best for you and your family. Remain in conflicted ignorance as much as humanly possible. 

5. Change tactics all the time. You have got tactics haven't you (if not, please acquire some as soon as possible)--bribery, threats, ignoring behavior and then getting really really ticked off. Well, be sure to change them up a lot.

6. Give up. Who needs fruits and vegetables anyway? Just let your kid eat Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner and juice for breakfast. After all, they're good for him because the nurse at your neighbor's doctor's office said so. You just want peace. And the end of hunger. And the end of whining. You did, after all, become a mother so that you could make four different dinners served up four different ways--so that you could be subservient to each of their whims (food and other) in every possible way. I mean, it's, like, so fulfilling.

7. Regret giving up and then revert to Tip #5.

8. Don't have dinner together. Nobody appreciates what you make anyway.

9. Don't ever try new foods. Nobody appreciates what you make anyway.

10. Don't enjoy your food. This is incredibly helpful if you can manage it. It helps if you don't learn to cook at all, but if you have made the error of developing some culinary skills or you happen to enjoy eating, go on a diet--preferrably a really weird one. Worry about your weight a lot, and discuss these worries with your kids. Then binge on Twinkies. It would be helpful if your husband and any teenagers in the house would also go on a diet--all different kinds of diets. In this way, you can further reinforce the message that food is bad, that it is not to be enjoyed, and that each member of the family should be eating different foods. Because that is the most righteous path to take. [Note: I have not tried this one as a mother, though as a teenager I did my best to contribute to the education of my younger siblings in this way. I'm sure my mother thanks me.]

I hope that these tips have been helpful in making your child the worst eater possible. With any luck, he will unhesitatingly refuse any and all foods you put in front of him, no matter how good they may actually be.


  1. I'm pretty sure you forgot, "Completely ruin dinner by yelling at your kids for not eating, then angrily shovel food into your mouth while everyone else stares at there plates in awkward silence, afraid to utter a sound lest you should blow up again."
    That is a good one. :)

  2. That is a good one. Sometime I should try shoveling all their food into the garbage. or maybe shoveling it all onto my plate and then eating it all, while crying. That would be an excellent method.

  3. Ask Jenni about the three bean rule and tomato soup sometime! Am now harvesting spinach & lettuce that I started by following your plastic-bin cold-frame directions -- thank you!

  4. I sure will. Hee hee. I'm glad the cold frame worked for you. We had a salad with lettuce and spinach last night too.



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