“Pirate Dinner”

My husband and I ended up setting pretty1 firm limits about food, without my realizing it at the time. He is Italian heritage, and food and mealtime are really important to him. He was clear from the beginning that he wasn’t going to make two separate meals. I worked to get him to be a little more flexible, but it was actually a good bottom line2 to establish.

My daughter (age eight) eats eagerly and happily, stops when she’s full, and notices if she overeats sugar and remembers why it doesn’t make sense. She complains about soup and vegetables intermittently but generally is quite relaxed about food.

It has been helpful to explain the need for protein, liquids, fruits and vegetables, and the problems caused by sugar for our bodies and minds. We talk about what is on the plate and what has protein and what doesn’t. If she really hates the protein in the meal, we help her figure out some other form of protein to eat. We expect her to try a bite of everything. (My husband says, “Take a bite, chew, swallow, and then tell me what you think.”) If she doesn’t like the main vegetable, she can eat the salad instead. We take her preferences into account; if she hates soup, we don’t have soup as much as we’d like. We talk about listening to our bellies and how some foods distract us from listening to them.

For her lunches, I use brightly colored, reusable decorated containers. I also include some packaged food that meets my definition of healthy (mostly crackers or unsweetened nut and fruit bars), which has helped with the comparisons to other children’s lunches.

At one point my husband was getting strict about table manners and I thought we needed to lighten things up. I created a special-occasion “pirate dinner” in which we dress up like pirates and growl and eat off the table with no plates, using our hands only. My daughter has started inviting friends over for “pirate dinner,” and they pick the menu. I thought it would be a push3 for my husband, but it turns out4 that I’m the one who has to discharge in order to pour gravy straight onto the dining room table!

"Susannah Foxworthy"


1"Pretty" means quite.
2"Bottom line" means final expectation.
3"Push" means challenge.
4"It turns out" means in fact.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00