Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Mystery Of The Appetite That Disappeared (Day 13: Ultimate Blog Challenge)

Wanted! Healthy appetite! Last seen when La Niña was about a year old. If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of the appetite, please let Mamma know immediately.

Most parents would be on the lookout for the elusive appetite, a species of creatures that is quick to take off and disappear on vacation, especially when called to ensure that a child is well-fed.

The appetite displays some strange habits. It will disappear for days on end, then suddenly show up, looking all ravenous and unable to control itself, just when dessert is being served.

Rare is the parent that has not tried hard and eventually tried to tear his/her hair out in frustration at the thought of sneaking some food into the mouth of a child unwilling to eat.

I have tried every trick in the book. In my hands, food zooms through the air, making numerous sorties, and then I suddenly apply the brakes right outside La Niña’s mouth, only to find the door stubbornly barred from the inside. The poor morsel, finding itself unwelcome, has no option but to head back to the base (read: plate). There is no way I can prise her mouth open to force feed her, even if I were to think of that as a feasible option, which I don’t.

For a while, I tried to get creative. On one occasion, I filled a small katori with rice and upturned it into the plate to form the two wheels of the bicycle. Then I made the pedals, handlebars, etc. using slices of tomato, capsicum etc. La Niña was delighted. She polished off her food, and demanded something even more creative at the next meal. I obliged, giving her food the look of a car. For some days, everyone was happy. But it wasn’t a long-term solution.

Being a working woman, I don’t have the time to indulge in such creative pursuits on a daily basis. The experiment fizzled out after a while.

There were times when I found myself bargaining with her. If she had so many spoonfuls (later rephrased to bites) of the vegetable cooked for the day, then I would let her have an extra helping of dessert.

I would try to be firm with her. If she wouldn’t have her meals, I would refuse to give her any other snack that she asked for. Her doting grandparents, however, don’t always favour my firm methods, and sometimes allow her to have such things as banana milkshake at mealtimes. Their goal involves ensuring that she does not go to bed hungry and mine is to ensure that she eats something healthy, something that can provide nutrition and is a worthy part of a balanced diet.

I soon discovered that there were many other parents who faced the same problem. Many told me that this was a problem that some kids faced between the ages of 2½ years to 4 or 5 years, and that the appetite returns by the end of that period.

I console myself with the thought that “this too shall pass.” I remember how I used to give my mother a hard time with regard to eating chapatis. I could never eat them, unless they were accompanied by something sweet.

Now that La Niña is growing up, the battlefield-like pressures at mealtimes have eased somewhat, but she continues to keep me on my toes with her tendency to eat the wrong things at the wrong times and her refusal to eat any vegetables except lady fingers. But we just celebrated her fifth birthday recently, so hopefully things will improve.

Dear Appetite,

If you are reading this, come home soon. All is forgiven.



(This post was written for Parentous, an online community on parenting related issues.)


  1. Oh I wish I could give my appetite to your little one :)

  2. bang on Cynthia! what a delightful little post!

    while it is a daily struggle to get my little to eat, i also realise that 'this too shall pass'.... having gone through phase with my elder one, I can safely say Mr. appetite will return soon!!

  3. Parenting is such fun! One of the most "creative" activities perhaps. Also one of the most tiring activities! :P
    One day, La Niña will be a teenager, and that will probably be a phase when you'll be praying for Mr. Appetite to go take a hike! :P
    UBC Day 12 - "A Day Without Computer"

  4. If there is one thing I am willing to lose, it is my appetite. As our pediatrician told my mother when my younger sister refused to eat: When she is hungry, she will eat.

  5. the doctor always says that when a child is hungry he/she will eat. My son too gave me nightmares with his appetite but after the age of 5, he has improved and now I have no probs.

  6. Whoa! this brings back memories from when my little one stopped eating at all, except curd and milk and for 3 months at a stretch I kept worrying about it and then suddenly I stopped pestering her or making stories for her to eat. After a while she suddenly asked for cucumber one day and then she was back to food after that...guess, when your baby will feel hungry she will ask for food herself.

    The magic lies in avoiding unhealthy food at odd hours, that's all!

  7. I've never had a probably eating...even as a child. Good luck with getting your little ones appetites back! They must be enjoying their vacation or something!

  8. and additionally the finder of this appetite will be awarded a badge from SuKupedia :D :D

    Just returned after meeting a friend .. God the difficulty she was having in feeding both her sons... one wanted to watch car on mobile the other would eat only if a song was played O_O .. but kudos to her because she just managed shoving the noodles down their throat :P :P

  9. A lot of truth to this one. My son is a very picky eater. He is 7 going on 8 and finally he is actually displaying a like for foods and I am finally getting on to what he really likes! LOL Kids!!


  10. aww!! She is a cutie pie!! :D
    hugs to her and you and I really hope her appetite comes back! :)

  11. Cynthia, if this soothes your worries away..
    I used to be that way..mostly bordering on refusing to eat unless I felt it deserved my interest and caught my eye.. My Mum Dad say I started eating when my Lil bro was born..when I saw him being fed..when I started trying to feed my bro and slowly it was because of him I started to eat too and now.. after sooo many years.. I am a hardcore foodie also known as the termite :P..
    Don't worry just a phase..
    also, if she is intensely hyperactive as I was.. All I cared then was to sleep exhausted.. I wouldnt care about eating on e bit.. So maybe.. that might help too. ALL the best and I like ur spunky Letter to the appetite :D

  12. awww that is so cute :) in my case its not the kid but the husband. Mumma is worried the appetite has lost its way through the houses. I also try all sorts of things to make him eat god alone knows what might be the final solution.

    And well this post might be referred back when I have a kid myself *fainting at prospects of another no food person in house*


  13. Getting a child to eat right is one big task! I have seen parents running after the kids and sometimes, it takes an hour or more to finish a meal. I can empathize with you in this one. May the appetite returns back real soon. :)



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