Monday, October 12, 2009

Lunch is a Battlefield

Lately, I've been lacking in kitchen inspiration.  I used to watch hours of the Food Network and I looked forward to experimenting with new recipes and flavors, but now not so much.  Food is totally unappealing to me as an activity. Sure, I want to eat it, but I'm really tired of having to prepare it. I'm tired of trying to figure out how to cook within a reasonable budget while keeping three divergent  appetites happy. You see, although creativity is usually aided by loose guidelines, my list of dietary restrictions is so long that I feel trapped inside a box full of boneless chicken and steamed peas.

My husband is not supposed to eat red meat, dairy or other high fat foods. Aaron also needs to carefully monitor his balance of soluble and insoluble fiber. He has IBS. My daughter would gratefully eat fresh fruit and steamed veggies all day long with a side of buttered bread and a slice of cheese, but she's not so keen on anything that once had a face.  In fact, she's anti-protein in general.  No beans please.

Another problem is that my husband needs to eat plain starchy foods to help with his digestion. The child sees the rice or white bread and says, screw all of this other food, I want the carbs. Oh, and Aaron has borderline eating disorder type food issues to begin with, so some days it takes every ounce of my creativity to prevent him from gorging himself on cheeseburgers or pizza.  I don't expect Violet to have a handle on good food choices, but it would make my life a hell of a lot easier if her father did. Our biggest fights are over food, because no amount of suffering is too great to come between my Aaron and a quarter-pounder with cheese.  We only have one bathroom gentle readers, so when my husband has an IBS attack, the whole house pays for it.

Violet also suffers from garden variety childhood food anxieties, like food mixing and touching and not looking like she remembers it looking. Today I made soup. Soup makes for a stressful lunch because all the food is mixed together.  Even when I make an effort to ladle chunks of familiar veggies onto her plate Violet dissolves into terrified tears. This afternoon it was celery that had her in a tizzy. The celery was touching the carrots and the potatoes on her plate and she not only didn't want to eat them, but she was scared that she might eat them by accident unless she picked up each piece of vegetable with her fingers.

 Last week, I snapped. I opened a can of Spaghettios because I was just too tired to think about making something else. All kids love Spaghettios, right?  They are relatively nutritious and probably not habit forming. What harm is there in one can?

Violet refused them. She wouldn't even taste them. I made her sit in her chair for two hours; cold lumpy Os in front of her, because I was determined not to lose face.  When she fell asleep at the table I quietly emptied her bowl into the trash and then woke her up to congratulate her for eating her lunch like a good girl.  Her little face was so relieved and only slightly bewildered.  I'm sure she thought the naughty kitten had come to her rescue, but she wasn't about to let on.  I was embarrassed that I had punished her for what amounted to sound dietary judgment.  It was a banner day.

I'm tired folks. So, very tired.  Ideas?

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