Friday, July 22, 2005


When I was growing up....I hated dinner time. It was exactly at 5pm every day, rain or shine. Let me preface this by saying I love my Mom (MeMa), but I did not love her cooking. My Mom liked to bake pastries, cookies, cakes and pies. My Mom hated to fix nutritious meals that were tasty. To make it even worse, I grew up in a meat and potatoes house during a generation where convenience foods were the rage. Hamburger Helper, get the picture. I don't think I ever had a vegetable that hadn't first been in a can. I kid you not, one night we had pork chops and meatloaf for dinner. That was it!

One of the lovely dinner rules was that you couldn't leave the table until you cleaned your plate. Is that just a recipe (pardon the pun) for food battles or what? The worst was liver and onions. The smell of liver (or even pate') can send me in to long bouts of heaving to this day. So most of my childhood was spent at the table, crying or arguing about food. Sometimes it would be midnight on a school night and I would still be looking at my plate of food. Sometimes I could get away with feeding my food to the dog after my parents left the room. Sometimes my Dad would feel sorry for me and send me to bed. I vowed that I would NEVER, EVER make my kids eat something they didn't want to.

Here's our family dinner rules up until last week:
1. Eat it or don't....don't care. No dessert if you don't eat what is on your plate. No snacks later.

The problem with this simple rule is the kids have learned to hold out until the morning. They have conditioned themselves to skip dinner on a regular basis and then just double up on Cookie Crisp cereal in the morning. No big deal.

I have started a new rule as of Monday and it goes like this:
1. Eat it or don't.....don't care. If you don't eat it, I wrap it up and put in the fridge for you for breakfast. If you choose not to eat breakfast, you get the dinner for lunch. If you have held out for twenty four hours, beginning at dinner your old meal gets thrown away and we can start with a new dinner.

I am really amazed at how well this is working. I'm still not forcing my children to eat. They can skip up to three meals (dinner, following day breakfast and following day lunch) if they like. But that's not happening. It only took one time with Christian, and two times with Leroy before they actually realized what HUNGER was. All of a sudden that cheese tortellini or that green salad was looking pretty darn tasty. And another thing I've discovered is that if you put a large dollop of Lighthouse Ranch Dressing, the super thick stuff on the side, they drench whatever they dislike in to the dressing and it goes down like butter.

I'm sure the kids think they are living in a food nightmare as I thought I was when I was a child. They are subjected to all sorts of gourmet food in our house. Fresh herbs and odd vegetables, sheep & goat cheeses, fish and strange spices. I know they are thinking, "My God, why couldn't I get one of those normal families out there that eat hot dogs and Hamburger Helper?"

In the meantime, they look forward to Friday's (which is pizza family night) and any day they spend at their MeMa's. She feeds them lots of candy and macaroni and cheese. It doesn't get better than that folks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

is it working??