Recently my wife and I went to Mexico. Rather than bring our three-year-old daughter, Emily, we decided to fly my mother from Quebec to take care of her. Emily doesn’t get to see her grandmother too often so we knew a week with “Nana” would be one of spoiling, late nights, and treats.
Which is fine.
So while we were enjoying our hedonistic Mexican adventures, Emily and Mom were having their own orgy of indulgences — going to multiple restaurants, baking tons of sweets, and eating ice cream like it was going extinct.
When we returned, not only did Emily look a little more well-rounded, but her vocabulary had increased too. When I asked her what she wanted for lunch, she blurts out, “Boston Pizza” and, “Happy Meal”.
We returned from our trip bloated and tired, ready to consume vast quantities of salad and fruit. Emily, on the other hand, had embraced the food she was chowing on in our absence, and accepted as the norm. Unfortunately, vacations end, and she, like, the rest of us, had to face reality. Back to a healthy nutritional routine.
This is a sort of a tricky deal because Emily, like most three-year-olds, is an extremely picky eater. If her mysterious toddler brain decrees that whatever is being served to her is unfit for her mouth, then that food be damned for the duration of her childhood.
We’ve lost a lot good meals over the last year — rest in peace salmon, meatballs, and French fries.
To get our old Emily back we needed to be tactful. This was no time to experiment with whitefish or rigatoni. We had to stick to her staples — the ones she’s never turned away.
It took us a solid week to wean her off her holiday diet, but we did it.
I thought I’d take a moment to pay homage to Emily’s top five go-to foods that helped bring her back from the dark side:
Bread: I understand this may not be a “healthy” choice what with all the gluten and whatnot, but she loves it and it keeps her full. You can dip it in gravy, toast it, add cheese and grill it. The combinations are endless. Emily nibbles like a bird; if it weren’t for bread she’d be nothing but a talking skeleton with hair.
Boiled eggs: I’ve never had a boiled egg she didn’t eat. They’re fast to make, cheap to buy, and mostly good for you. The best part in our household is that Emily never eats the yolk, leaving two perfectly round yellow spheres on her plate.
Fish crackers: Ok, so this may not be considered “food”, but I don’t know how many finicky evenings we had where she barely ate and we kept her belly full with these crispy fish. To me it’s like eating cardboard but I can feed them to her anywhere, anytime. Score.
Cucumbers: I have no idea how this vegetable won Emily over. It’s an anomaly that never should have garnered any interest from a three-year-old. Sometimes it’s best not ask too many questions and just say “Welcome aboard”.
Avocado: Truly the hero of our group. Healthy, dense, and delicious, Emily has eaten this creamy fruit from the start of her solid food stint and never looked back. It makes a pogo classy, and chicken fingers feel healthy. Avocado is always there to provide a nutritional boost, and I’m glad we’re on the same side.
I salute you in the battle to keep my daughter’s belly full.