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May 08, 2014

Markets in Everything

The latest idiotic parenting fad - eating coaches:

Leslie Springer was tired of acting like a short-order cook for her twin girls in second grade and daughter in preschool. Day-Glo orange mac and cheese was a staple. Snacks consisted of Goldfish crackers, Cheez-Its, potato chips and Oreos. Her girls devoured french fries but wouldn't touch other kinds of potatoes. She would offer cauliflower and carrots only to get rebuffed.

...Reforming picky eaters isn't cheap. Fees and approaches vary—some coaches interview parents over the phone and offer counsel; others like to meet the children. An initial hour long consultation can cost up to $250, plus follow-up visits. Coaches say they are able to resolve most instances of overly discerning young eaters for about $400.

What child, knowing that an endless supply of cookies and junk food is available, is going to eat what's offered to them during meals?

That will be $400.00. Next.

Posted by Cassandra at May 8, 2014 07:00 AM

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Traditionally, good parenting came from neither consultants nor the government, but good parents. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

Posted by: tek at May 8, 2014 12:54 PM

Is it just me, or is there an inverse relationship between the amount of help people get and their ability/willingness to do pretty much everything?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2014 01:24 PM

I think that's usually stated as, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for all his days."

Granted, in today's corollary, it's, "Teach a man to fish, and he'll sit in his boat drinking beer all day then stop by the fish market on his way home for the 'Catch of the Day'".

Posted by: DL Sly at May 8, 2014 03:16 PM

Sly, my favorite was always:
"Give a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm the rest of his life."

Posted by: MikeD at May 8, 2014 03:47 PM

Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm the rest of his life.

DUUUUUUUUUUUDE.... that's *harsh*.

Posted by: Tommy Vietor at May 8, 2014 03:54 PM

"...Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm the rest of his life."

Well, at least until someone beats it out with a chain.

Posted by: DL Sly at May 8, 2014 04:23 PM

Eating Coaches?
Seriously? My mother was a great cook, but finding things that all of us liked was a challenge. Eventually, my father tired of waiting for us to grow up. He spent and hour talking to us about the food that was available to him during the Great Depression. He told us, in detail, what hunger felt like. Then he laid down the law. "If there one more complaint about your mother's cooking, we will serve nothing but what I had a child. I know I will survive, as I eaten like that before."
"Believe me," he added,"one week of Depression food and you will be begging for your mother's cooking."

Posted by: tyree at May 8, 2014 09:36 PM

Tyree gets this prize. My folks told stories like that.
Opa (grandpa) simply said the pb&j I didn't want was lunch; shut up and eat it.
That same sometimes grumpy guy was also endlessly patient in teaching me solitaire, and took me along as a helper for beachcoming and building bulkheads.

Oddly, now find tuna noodle to be comfort food.

The idea of hiring a third party to teach my kids to eat is beyond bizarre.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 8, 2014 10:33 PM

I vividly remember having a friend complain to me that she was so tired of having to get up several times during the family dinner and cook something else for whichever one of her 3 small children had refused to eat what they were offered that night.

She asked me how I handled that situation, and I remember being just stunned because I couldn't imagine that happening in our house. Dinner was a simple affair:

I cooked whatever we were eating that night and put it on the table.

No one was required to clean their plate, but if they didn't eat their dinner they got no dessert, snacks, or treats and no juice (we didn't keep soda in the house) until the next meal. They could have milk or water.

Both kids got to pick one vegetable that they didn't have to eat. I still served it whenever I felt like it, though, and both kids now eat a lot of things they hated as kids. I paid no attention to whether they ate it or not. We didn't discuss it.

We had no battles over food, but then we had no battles over what to wear or whether or not they "felt like" going to school either.

My kids ate pretty much everything, and they ate generous portions - pretty much adult-sized ones. They were so active they burned off the calories easily. We didn't keep a lot of junk food around the house - snacks were fruit or veggies, a PBJ sandwich, occasionally (on Commissary day) I would buy a box of Yodels or cookies or Popsicles but I didn't buy enough to last the whole week.

Eating was just never an issue. As much as I'd love to believe that's because I'm such an amazing cook, I know that's not true. We ate a lot of homemade soups (split pea, lentil, broccoli/cheese, beef vegetable) and casseroles. I always made chicken soup every time I bought a whole chicken and still do b/c I hate to throw away a perfectly good chicken carcass). I used to pride myself on how many meals I could get from a single roaster or fryer.

It's not like I was a health nut or anything. We were just on a fixed budget and snack foods are very expensive. Not buying a lot of pricey junk food or expensive cleaning products helped us live within our means with money left over for savings and small luxuries.

Good on your Dad, tyree. My husband grew up with pretty much the same set of rules I did around meals so the boys knew he would back me up.

Posted by: Cass at May 9, 2014 11:13 AM

It's hard for me to imagine. There were a few foods I wouldn't eat as a kid--I couldn't stand oysters, for instance--but they didn't appear often enough to threaten starvation if I turned them down. The idea of my mother hopping up to cook something else! In a million years! There wasn't a lot of snacking, either. We ate at mealtimes.

We didn't often eat at restaurants, but I do remember that being the only time any of us kids got to indulge individual preferences.

What is it parents think will happen if they don't turn themselves inside out and pay food coaches to cater to their kids' picky appetites? The instinct to consume calories is pretty strong.

Posted by: Texan99 at May 9, 2014 12:06 PM

The instinct to consume calories is pretty strong.

Pretty stong. But not absolute.

My oldest (5) has been seeing a therapist for this issue. If you can even get him to even lick a food and he likes it, there is still a better than even chance that he'll vomit if he attempts to swallow it. He will vomit reflexively if he so much as tastes tomato sauce. You can imagine how much more difficult it would be, if he vomits things he likes, to get him to try something new.

He's gone 2 days without eating anything and an entire week with nothing but a single protein bar per day. He lost 5% of his body weight that week and was already underweight to start with.

"Eat or starve", and he will literally starve.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2014 02:58 PM

Wow, not in a million years would I get up from my dinner to cook something ELSE. There is always PB&J, bread and butter, or you can go hungry. That goes for adults and teens, too. Alternatively, get your butt in the kitchen when the meal is being prepared and make sure something you like is on the table by helping cook the food. I must be a cruel and heartless mother ;)

Posted by: Roz at May 9, 2014 03:15 PM

"I must be a cruel and heartless mother ;)"

*scoots chair over*
We've been waiting for you.
*hands over a drink*
Did you bring the chips? And none of those weird green ones, makes me think I'm eating deep fried snot....

Damn, YAG. Just dayum. My heart goes out to the little guy. (Has it really been five years since the arrival of the first Yaglette?)

Posted by: DL Sly at May 9, 2014 03:30 PM

Yeah, 5 years goes fast. He starts school this fall and that why we've started bringing out the big guns.

He stated vomiting at about 1 month and did it literally at every feeding whether it was breast milk or formula. At the time, it was diagnosed as GERD. It got better at about 9 months. As we introduced new foods, he did better so long as the food was smooth. Anything with texture produced immediate and violent vomiting. Any sort of pasta foods produced the worst reaction, but even diced carrots would do it.

Over time, he's found a handful of foods that he knows are "safe". But at one time he'd eat goldfish but not cheez-its, even though the taste and texture are near identical. But he knew goldfish were safe and cheez-its might make him vomit.

It isn't just pickiness, it's straight up fear.

I don't know what the problem is, but it needs to be fixed before school starts.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2014 03:57 PM

And it isn't just junk food. The boy will still not eat cake, and at his 1st birthday party my dad tried to smear icing on his lips but only got it on his cheek. Puking was immediate.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2014 04:03 PM

Synesthesia can be a cause of that, YAG. A friend of mine had issues with food until his mother learned to throw the trouble foods into a blender. It wasn't the taste for him, it was the texture.

And now he has a nephew with the same issues you describe. He quite literally cannot keep down most food regardless of if he likes it or not. But those are medical conditions, not "I don't like that" issues like these "food coaches" are fixing.

My problem growing up was the fact that my parents are Catholic. On Fridays in Lent, I'd beg my mother to make Mac & Cheese (and even offered many times to make it for her). The issue? Seafood makes me nauseated. Quite literally. To this day. If it lived in the water, my stomach does a slow dip and roll. And it doesn't matter if you lie to me, my gut will know. My brother the marine biologist has suggested it might be an iodine allergy. I don't know for sure (it's easy enough to avoid as an adult). But as a kid, there were plenty of nights where I just did not eat dinner, because I was adverse to vomiting. It hardly killed me.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2014 04:21 PM

Well, these "food coaches" are actually speech pathologists and occupational therapist.

It's somewhat like calling a physical therapist a "walking coach".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2014 05:22 PM

So yes, parents who are sloughing off their own duties can be faulted, but lamenting the misuse of a product is not the same as lamenting that the product has a market.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2014 05:28 PM

"It's somewhat like calling a physical therapist a "walking coach"."

Or, in the Princess' case, flouncin' and bouncin' coach.
I doubt, however, that anyone could help with her aim....

Posted by: DL Sly at May 9, 2014 06:00 PM

But those are medical conditions, not "I don't like that" issues like these "food coaches" are fixing.

Amen. Sorry to hear that you all are having such a terrible time, YAG. One of my grandsons has a problem with his gut that I can't pronounce, but essentially he will eat anything (but certain foods give him such terrible stomach pains that he is in agony if he misses a dose of the medication he's on).

So there's almost the reverse problem - he's not afraid to eat anything. Even foods that he probably ought to be afraid of. The doctor says most kids grow out of it - it's caused by an inability to digest certain foods properly.

There has to be a healthy balance between well founded caution (a child avoids some food because it has actually caused problems) and going overboard the other way (child does what all kids do - tries to get his/her way and parents capitulate without a fight).

The "one vegetable" for both my kids was sweet potato. They still don't eat it to this day. My brother had pretty much the same reaction to it that Mike had to seafood, so I'm guessing there's some physical basis for it.

Anyway, I would never fault any parent for getting medical help when it is needed. I hope they're able to help your son.

Just as an aside, the reason I never made my kids eat any food was just that. We still laugh at the story of one night the Unit got mad and insisted our youngest eat something on his plate.

3 guesses what happened next :p

Posted by: Cass at May 9, 2014 06:29 PM

Not doing much flouncing and bouncing yet. Maybe next week.

Ppppphhhhhhttttthhhh :)

Posted by: Cass at May 9, 2014 06:31 PM

I've just gotta see the flouncing routine

Posted by: CAPT Mike at May 9, 2014 09:39 PM

Some of these parents need to take parenting classes. My parents were much like the parents others are describing: eat what is set before you. The complication was that only my Mom and I were not allergic to various foods (Dad's were the worst, huge list of things he couldn't have, my brothers and sister have one or three each.) Mom cooked (even when she'd taught us how to) and we ate. If you didn't want to eat, fine, you'd be hungry at the next meal, and someone else would eat your desert.

YAG -- That sounds like hell, far worse than coping with my Dad's and my sibling's allergies. I pray the little guy gets better and you have less horrible problems to worry about.

Posted by: htom at May 10, 2014 12:39 AM

So we get both flouncing and bouncing next week? Yea!

Posted by: htom at May 10, 2014 12:52 AM

YAG--I'm sorry to hear that. And the answer to my question of "What do they think will happen?" is your experience. A kid that actually loses weight is clearly not just being picky.

But to be fair, you're having rare bad luck. The vast majority of kids will settle down and eat most of what's available, if their parents don't turn the household upside-down at the first hint of less-than-ecstatic approval. If appetite weren't a universally overpowering instinct, humans would have died out a long time ago. We evolved under the constant threat of starvation, and our bodies still know it very well.

I hope you guys and your professionals figure out what's wrong. It sounds scary and distressing.

Posted by: Texan99 at May 10, 2014 10:43 AM