Meet Danica, my 2-year-old daughter. In her free time, she enjoys scaling small structures, playing “sink or float” with the toilet and our electronics (all data collected to date points to sink though she remains unconvinced), and has a list of favorite foods that would make a dietician weep.
Believe it or not, it is that last one that gives her dad and I the most trouble. The tops of cupcakes, cookies, things that go with syrup (chocolate or maple): she loves it all. The arrival today of our order of Girl Scout cookies has her pacing the kitchen floor.
“Cookies. Want cookies,” she mumbles to no one in particular as she stares up at the boxes stacked neatly on the top of our refrigerator. It’s like she is a wild animal who has chased her dinner up a tree. They have to come down sometime. They can’t stay up there forever, right?
If I left them within reach, she would have a sleeve of Thin Mints finished before I could complete a quick trip to the bathroom.
Ensuring that the diet of someone who has such a devout relationship with sugar remains somewhat healthy is one of the more difficult things I’ve faced as a parent. Danica is painfully stubborn and happy to starve if she can’t eat what she wants. These hunger strikes have on many occasions left me playing the role of the frustrated short order cook.
I was relaying this problem to our pediatrician at Danica’s last check-up when she said something so simple I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t think of it before then.
“Sounds like she has a sweet tooth,” she said. “Just try giving her things that are sweet and healthy like fruit or yogurt.”
That night for dinner Danica polished off two cups of yogurt and a banana. Sure, it wasn’t the baked chicken and green beans the rest of the family enjoyed, but she was finally eating. Since then I’ve introduced Danica to a wide variety of fruits. We buy the ones that are organic and in season from our local farmers’ market (more on that later) and we’re slowly turning her diet around.
We haven’t completely eradicated her love of cookies, but it’s hard to overcome genetics. That sweet tooth? She comes by it honest.