A possible breakthrough

I feel like I’ve written so many times about our attempts to encourage Hattie and Joe to eat like normal people, and as it’s never worked out I worry that I’m now tempting fate by sharing this, but… I think our latest strategy might be working.

As I mentioned the other day, we’ve decided that the two of them eat too much sweet stuff, which is affecting their capacity to enjoy other flavours. In an attempt to re-educate their palates we’ve drastically reduced the sugar in the diets. They’ve coped with it really well – they may be challenging at times, but they know when to throw in the towel, bless them – and we’ve definitely noticed a reduction in mood swings and general histrionics from Joe in particular. They’ve having savoury rolls and sandwiches for lunch, cheese and crackers for afternoon tea, and only one sweet food during the day – usually a mid-morning home-baked banana muffin. The reduced yo-yo-ing of their blood sugar levels really helps their demeanour.

We’re also finding that dinner times are far more relaxed. It helps that they’re not starving, on account of eating more protein during the day. I’m also much less stressed about whether they eat, largely because I haven’t had the dispiriting experience of cooking something just for them and then having them reject it. If they don’t want dinner now it’s all good – I’ll still enjoy mine!

We’ve already noticed a willingness to try more food. Last night, for example, Hattie ate a hamburger for the first time. I can picture those of you without picky eaters laughing in incredulity that this is a milestone moment for us, but trust me: this is a big deal. Of course, we’re still having our struggles: Hattie continues to be very reluctant to try fruit or vegetables, and the other day it took half an hour to convince her to eat half a blueberry – and even then it was only just the promise of a cancelled trip to a friend’s pool that broke the stalemate. But a few weeks ago NOTHING would have convinced her, so this is progress. Similarly, Joe is reluctant to try vegetables, but like Hattie he’s slowly being convinced. Behold, the two of them drinking green smoothies this morning! The smoothies contained spinach, pineapple, banana, and mango, so they’ve actually had some vitamins today!

How have we brought about this change in behaviour? Well, we’ve used cause-and-effect on an epic scale. Later this year we’re planning a family holiday to Fiji, so I announced this to the kids a few weeks ago, but added with mock-sadness that we’ll only be able to take them if we’re confident that they’ll be willing to eat a wide range of food, since we’ll be reliant on what’s available in hotel restaurants and won’t have a kitchen, or access to a supermarket. They’ve fallen for this hook, line, and sinker. Hooray! They’re also motivated by the prospect of going out for dinner with us more often at home.

Tonight they’re having pesto pasta, which is a pretty easy sell, but tomorrow I’m stepping things up with ginger beef, which I think they’ll find a bit more challenging. Onward and upward!

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