Thursday 5 May 2011

Food....Y's worst enemy

The "picky eater" - it is a nice name for someone who drives their mother nuts!! Y has never been a great eater, right from the time she started solids around 5 months. She weighed a good 3.8 kg at birth but it's all been downhill from there. At one point she was at the 5th percentile for weight. I kid you not. From 3.8 kg to the 5th percentile. I asked her pediatrician (we lived in the US at the time) what he thought about it and he said he didn't see a problem. I wanted to conk him over the head. She had been dropping steadily from 50th, to 30th, to 25th, to 10th and now 5th percentile and he was ok with it???!!!! Pray, when would he start getting concerned? Rationally, I knew enough not to worry. One, she has the skinny genes. Ads for all his voracious eating has his ribs showing, stick-like arms and legs. Their father is slender. I don't put on weight that easily. Y will thank us for this genetic bonus when she is older. Two, she is super-active and I know that over the course of a week, she is probably getting most of her nutrient stock. Three, breastfed babies gain weight less rapidly than exclusively formula-fed babies, babies who are on a diet of breastmilk AND formula during the first 6 months of life, as well as babies who start solids before 6 months. This is something I learnt much after the 5th percentile episode. I wish I had learnt about it earlier since it would have saved me a lot of worry (and guilt, and having to counter unsolicited advice from people)
She is 2 and a half now and mealtimes are my least favourite part of the day. There are precisely 5 items that I know for sure she will eat - omelettes, roasted potato curry, plain white rice, chips and Haldiram bhujia. Except for the omelette, and I concede the potato as well, the other options are so unhealthy! And oh, she will eat anything that's savoury and fried. Murukku, thattai, seedai - all par for the course. I'm not one of those moms who will make a huge effort to churn out creative foodstuff for their kids. You know, the sandwich with the smiley face, the red pepper cut in the shape of a flower, that kind of thing? My rule is - no separate meals prepared for the kids after they start on real solids. They eat what I cook for the adults and if they don't like it, they just stay hungry. So Y has frequently eaten a meal of just rice, or just potato and I compensate by getting her to drain a glass of milk or Pediasure later (half of which she vomits out to spite me!) 
She's growing - more so in length - as well as can be expected. She's very bright and very active. So I shouldn't be worried, and I'm not, except that I think the need for moms to feed their children, and see them eating well, is such a strong emotional need that it takes a huge effort to break out of that mindset. Every now and then I succumb and feel guilty that I must not be trying hard enough, or I'm a lousy cook. Every now and then someone makes a comment like this: She must have developed a squint because she is underweight. Now that's a whopper to lay me low for the rest of the week!


  1. Ahh! how nasty of people to comment on just about anything.Please ignore them! I know it's tough but they are simply ignorant is all I can say.
    About eating habits, yes, all long as the toddler is active, happy and growing there is no worry. I too go by the no-separate-food for the kids rule. In my case my son needs to keep eating all day..:-) I have to think of diff healthy snacks. If she likes chatpata stuff, maybe you can try giving her "sundal" (boiled chick peas or black chana or hara moong with tadka and maybe some coconut) without much oil and spice. It's healthy. You know better but just a suggestion.

  2. OMG I don't believe someone would say that - but you know how most people are - insensitive :(!! It's surprizing how even those who are parents themselves don't "get" it!

    Eating habits - bane of my life too - my daughter for most of the time I fed her was a very very fussy eater! And I follow your policy - no specially made or decorated meals - just can't kill myself over it!! But she took a liking to fish and other non-veg items so I got used to the smell and cooking more for her sake than hubby's :). And holding chips, appalam out as a treat about once a week will always make her eat her vegetables too! Maybe using her favourites as an extra item would help in your case too?
    In any case definitely don't worry about the weight - when any relatives comment about how "thin" my children are - I always answer with - Better this way than the opposite!!

  3. Where are these people? Point them out and the clear the path! Steam, steam!

  4. Uma: have tried sundal, many many types, she didn't like them!
    Aparna: She does have a few chips at every meal, much as I hate it, but anything for a good cause huh? Atleast the veggies/rice goes in.
    Sangi: wish I would, wish I could :)

  5. You get a squint because you're underweight? WOWOW. Medical discovery of the century. If I tell Dhruv's ophthalmologist this, she'll laugh her head off!

    Hugs. I've been there, and Div has improved, but it's two steps forward, one step back. I think your policy is cool. The more we bend over backwards for the kid, the harder it gets. Over here, Div can be slow and eats less of even junk food or often even her favourite foods. Gobbling is so rare, that it's a special event we all stand and watch with open mouths. :P

    Call it genetics, or late blooming or whatever. Kids will be the weight they're supposed to be at whatever age, charts and percentiles be damned. Just as long as you're providing nutritious food, relax!

  6. Thanks Starry, it helps to hear sane words from someone who's been there, done that! Yeah gobbling is quite the event in our household too....we take a full day to recover from the sight :)

  7. LOL - on the formula-fed babies vs. breast feed babies! My daughter (4 years and 4 mos) is exclusively formula fed (I was unable to provide her breast milk due to various complications) and she is on the 5 percentile for weight. I think it's all in the genes - coz both my mom and I were formula fed and we are not over weight :)


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