I never thought I would force my child to eat foods she didn’t want. As a kid, my parents would make me sit at the table all night until I finished the liver sitting in front of me. To this day, the thought of eating liver sends shivers down my spine.
Now, I’m starting to see a little trouble down the road for my daughter. It really started to become an issue because of pizza. Yes, pizza has prompted a principled-parenting dilemma for me.
Children, celiac or not, are supposed to like pizza right? Emma has been on the gluten-free diet for 8 years. For at least five of those years, we didn’t do pizza because there weren’t many gluten-free frozen pizzas at the time, and I was not prepared for the challenge of making homemade gluten-free pizza crust.
So about 2 years ago, I went for it. I found a very small, albeit expensive, gluten-free pizza in the freezer section of my health food store. So I bought it and we had pizza night! My husband, our other daughter and I ordered “delivery”, and Emma had her personal pizza. I thought it would be great. But it turned into a “pick-fest” and then tears. Emma wanted to eat something else. I remember my husband and I saying to her, “Do you have any idea how many of your friends wish their parents forced them to eat pizza?” Ever since, we have tried a few other brands, just in case she didn’t like the first kind we bought. She is pretty consistent. She doesn’t like pizza.
It is now getting into a bigger issue. For the last year I have made major strides with my school district in getting more food options – which has resulted in a gluten-free menu –for Emma. However, some of those options they have she doesn’t like, or she will not try them; most salads, mashed potatoes to name a few. I explained to her that just because she doesn’t like them doesn’t mean it shouldn’t go on the menu for other children. I feel bad in a way because my district has worked very hard yet to accommodate her needs.
The school has been making her rice as a substitute for days when they are serving potatoes that contain gluten, which is good. However, I’m considering telling them on mashed potato day – she gets mashed potatoes – and not to go out of their way to serve her rice. If gluten were a non-issue, I would be forcing her to try new foods more often. But I worry because of the gluten-free situation; I have created an overly-picky eater. Sometimes I think she has a right to be overly picky because she needs to be concerned about what other people (besides her parents) want to feed her. But if it is an agreed upon item, i.e. mashed potatoes at school, that are gluten-free, I think she should get them on her plate and try them each time they are served.
I worry if I don’t put a stop to it now, how demanding will she be as she ages? If people go out of their way to get her a gluten-free meal and it’s not quite what she wants, then what? She leaves it untouched? She seems ungrateful? She asks for something else? These are all things I worry about as she gets older. I want to raise a respectful young lady, who understands her diet, and is grateful when people can accommodate her requests. Am I overthinking it? I would love to hear what you think.