We don’t tend to have a lot of food-related temper tantrums around here, but when we do, they are almost always about starches: sweet potatoes, bananas, and to a much lesser degree, squash.
Last Tuesday evening, we had a Category 5 meltdown at the dinner table. Over sweet potatoes.
We sat down for a supper of rib eye steak, mashed sweet potatoes, and green beans. Within a minute, Oliver had scarfed down his entire portion of sweet potato and was asking for more. “Finish your steak and green beans,” I told him. “If you’re still hungry afterwards, you can have another serving of sweet potato.”
Normally, such a statement would be met with a half-hearted protest, followed by Oliver happily gobbling up the rest of the food on his plate. But with the sweet potato, that was not the case. Oliver lost it. He began to wail, “More pato, more pato.” He clenched his jaw and turned his head at any offers of steak (which he loves) and green beans. He began to thrash around. He got so upset and cried with such intensity that we actually thought he was going to vomit.
We removed him from the table until he calmed down, and brought him back to try again. Four times.
Finally, he finished his steak and green beans, and then ate all the rest of the sweet potato in the serving bowl. And even when the sweet potato was obviously all gone, he continued to beg for more.
This sort of drama never happens with mashed cauliflower, which has a similar appearance and texture to mashed potato.
There is only one other food that has the power to make Oliver lose it so completely: bananas.
I first became aware of Oliver’s issues with bananas when he was around 11 months old. We were about to queue up for the check-out at Safeway, when Oliver had one of his classic grocery store meltdowns. Except this time, instead of the usual unintelligible screaming, he was actually crying, “nana,” and pointing to a display of bananas, so I finally understood what the tantrum was about.
In the eight months that have followed, we have had many, many a tantrum about bananas. It’s a bit of a running joke around here, and also one of the main reasons we limit Oliver’s banana consumption.
All of this is to say that if these starchy but otherwise quite healthy foods cause Oliver to have such massive emotional outbursts, I can only imagine the magnitude and frequency of the temper tantrums we might have over bread, cookies and crackers.
Have you noticed any patterns with your child’s food-related temper tantrums? Are there foods you avoid or restrict due to their apparent power to cause behavioural issues?