One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far as a parent? It’s always just a phase.
Waking up every 3 hours? Just a phase.
Kicking and screaming while trying to get them dressed? Just a phase.
Telling you they hate you? Just a phase (although I suspect this may be one of the longer phases!)
Yes, in the moment it can seem like that thing (the waking up, the kicking and screaming, the hateful words) is going to be your reality forever.
But once you’re through the worst of it, it’s always such a relief to realize that it really was just a temporary moment in time.
Another challenge to overcome.
And thank goodness – just a phase.
The same rings true for kids when it comes to their eating habits.
For example, some babies start out happily eating solids and accepting most foods. They eat with gusto and rarely turn away a vegetable. But often around the age of two, many kids scale back on the number of foods they’ll accept and stop wanting to try anything new.
And moms panic! My child is going to starve! Could he get scurvy from the lack of vitamins? I’ll make him anything he wants, as long as he eats SOMETHING!
You can stop panicking mama! Take a deep breath and repeat after me.
Its. just. a. phase.
When it comes to eating habits, kids really don’t make a whole lot of sense.
They’ll eat something the first time you serve it, and then not touch it again for months. They’ll eat 3 huge meals one day, and then pick at their food the next.
Tyson will eat pasta with tomato sauce anywhere he goes…except at home (where he will only eat plain noodles). #soannoying
Kids are wildly unpredictable and will go through many ups and downs and….phases.
Not only is it sanity preserving to have some perspective on how quickly these phases can pass, but it’s also really important that during our moments of stress and panic, that we don’t make common mistakes that could undermine healthy eating habits.
In other words, it’s important to remember the common wisdom that..
This too shall pass.
That time Tyson ate grasshopper in Mexico…
Earlier this year, we went on a family vacation to Mexico.
It was an amazing trip and Tyson had the time of his life. The quality and variety of food far surpassed this nutritionist’s expectations – including the biggest salad bar I’ve ever seen. So many great things to choose from – both healthy and not-so-healthy.
Of course, with vacation came a little less structure, and with a buffet came more choice than Tyson is used to.
Here are a couple of highlights from Tyson’s Mexican Diet:
- Pizza for lunch every day
- At least one “mocktail” from the swim-up bar per day (he likes pina coladas, just like his mama!)
- Tons of fruit, but no vegetables (except a few raw cucumbers and peppers here and there)
- Grasshopper (yep, after shunning anything unfamiliar for most of the trip, he ASKED for the grasshopper guacamole off the menu. Totally random. And of course I had to try it along with him. Crispy but not so bad!)
So yes, it was a tad stressful to watch him shun veggies and drink chocolate monkeys like it was his job. But I didn’t get too fussed up about it.
Why? Because I knew it was just a phase!
When kids are out of their normal routine, they will likely eat a little differently (don’t we all on vacation?)
I could have been really anxious about it and pressured or bribed him to eat more vegetables and less pizza, but this would have:
a) undermined his eating competence that I have worked so hard to develop
b) ruined my vacation with arguing and bribing.
Instead, I grudgingly chalked it up to a phase and surrendered to it (even though I secretly worried whether he was going to want pizza for lunch every day for the rest of his life).
And you know what? The night we got home, my mom invited us over for dinner (thank you mom – I was NOT ready to cook for myself yet), and she served ribs, kale salad, potatoes and green beans.
And what did Tyson eat?
EVERYTHING. I swear – the kid asked for and gobbled up every single thing that was served. (I know, right? What the heck?)
So the moral of the story is to try to not get too worked up when your child refuses to eat something they have always liked, or starts throwing their vegetables on the floor or suddenly decides they are only going to eat bread.
Chances are, if they were a good eater before, it’s likely just a short-lived phase.
And as long as you are actively taking steps to develop healthy habits and raise a healthy eater, this too will pass!