Thursday, October 6, 2011

Picky Boy Wins

The six months that I decided to devote to "Operation Picky Pants" (also known as "20 for 6") have elapsed.  It is time for a debrief.

If you don't know what I'm referring to, read the March 29th Mission Impossible post for a refresher on my 6 month scheme to coax the picky eater out of my eldest son.  We have more or less been sticking to a plan of eating the same 20 things for dinner for six months, with one night a week available for new recipes.  Full disclosure: There have been numerous exceptionw to the program that could not be avoided by anyone who values their sanity.  We still ate out, dined with friends and family, and took trips this summer.  But caveats aside, we hung in there and the results are in.

Early Wins
You may remember that in April I reported in the post "Shrimply Triumphant" that there were some exciting achievements early in the program.  I was laser-focused, the program was well-hyped at home, and by miracle GJ tasted his first meatball of his life (turns out it was also his last) and ate a plate full of lemony shrimp over pasta - both no-nos before the program.

The Duldrums
Then came the middle months.  I lost all my cooking mojo.  Making and planning dinner turned into drudgery.  I abandoned the system because setting the menu was a matter of pulling out the list of 20 things and deciding which I could bear making and eating again.  Sitting down with wine and cookbooks wasn't necessary and the grocery list wrote itself.  You may be thinking that sounds great, but the planning is my favorite part of The System.  GJ persisted in his resistance and I thought the battle was lost.

End Runs
Then over the last two weeks, as if by magic, GJ's mind opened (just a crack) to new things.  We went out to dinner with Grandma and Grandpa and GJ ordered and ate a rack of messy ribs.  After polishing them off, he eyed Sofia's unfinished salmon and asked to try it.  I went into "don't scare the small mammal" mode where I move slowly and make no eye contact.  If he felt like he was making a concession to his lame and clapping mom, he may not have followed through.  But he did and he loved Sofia's salmon.  Since then I have been re-engergized about this project, and GJ has asked to try several other things, including fresh mozzarella and tomato salad,  teriyaki salmon, frozen chicken meatballs (billed as round sausage, yes he fell for that) and black bean burritos.

Lessons Learned
  • GJ eats a decent number of things for a kid.  Looking over the list (included below for those with interest), even just at the things he entered the program liking, I think I have been too hard on him. He deserves more credit.
  • Even though the program didn't perform miracles, it did make a difference.  All I can do is cook and expose these kids to good foods and teach them how we feel about trying new things and giving them more than one chance.  The rest is up to them, isn't it? 
  • My biggest wins came after the duldrum phase when I was quieter and more relaxed about my campaign against pickiness.  That probably gave GJ a chance to feel more in control, like he'd come to his decisions on his own because he wanted to. Chill out, Mom.
Final Takeaway for me
Keep cooking and offering new foods mixed with favorite foods and to let the rest unfold as it may.  

Post Script on the Results for the Detail-oriented


Here is what made the final list of 20, roughly how many times we ate each meal, and which dishes won him over:
1.  Spaghetti and meatballs
6
My biggest disappointment – He tried a morsel once and gagged, still does not like it
2.   Chicken Milanese with  orzo and broccoli

10
Family favorite
3.  Fettucine alfredo with ham and peas
3
Family favorite
4.  Spaghetti puttanesca
4
He ate a few strands, still does not like it
5.  Chicken stir fry, rice and edamame

5
Family favorite
5.  Beef bulgoki-style stir fry
2
Family favorite
6.  Fajitas
4

He still eats his with guacamole and cheese only
7.  Teriyaki salmon
4
A major success – He hated it the first two times and loved it in the end
8.  Grilled swordfish
2
He already liked this
9.  Black bean burritos
4

Another success – He actually put a skinny line of beans down on top of his guacamole and cheese and he tolerated it.
10.  Sesame noodles with edamame and assorted veggies
5
This was a reverse failure.  He started off liking this but ended the project turned off.  He says it makes him too thirsty now.  Good grief.
11. Grilled Italian sausage with peppers and onions
3
Family favorite
12. Spaghetti al'amatriciana

2
Ate a few strands and would tolerate it again.
13. Seared ham steak with sweet potato puree
6
Family favorite.  The second time he tried the sweet potato and like them with syrup on top.
14. Thai chicken on rice stick noodles
2
Family favorite
15. Lemony shrimp over linguini

4
Wrote about this.  Another major success
16. Pizzas
20!
Family favorite
17. Grilled steak, baked potato and asparagus
5

Family favorite
18. Keilbasa, steamed potatoes, and green beans
4

Family favorite
19. steamed shrimp

6
GJ already liked this
20.  seared “white” fish

6
Tolerated this

2 comments:

  1. Good to hear the update :-)

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  2. I've been missing your blog -- so thanks for the update! Was just extolling the virtues of "the System" to a couple of friends this morning.

    ReplyDelete