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Picky Eaters, or What Not to Eat

Posted by Kristen on May 7, 2009 at 6:25 AM in Eating
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038.JPGMy husband is saying that I am a hypocrite for writing this post. How dare I judge the picky eater? I am one myself. There, I said it. When I was little, I may have even promised my parents that I would eat vegetables when I was 7 in order to get out of eating them. My seventh birthday came and went and I still didn't eat vegetables. I did not happily consume a vegetable until I was 23. Now I can eat tomatoes by the farmer's market bag full.

When Ethan started eating food I was delirious. From his first birthday on, he would eat two scrambled eggs every single day. Yes, I am the best mom ever. Or so I thought until he reached his second birthday and he refused to eat anything that could possibly be construed as healthy or good for you. That and he hated when his food touched. How weird is that (as she looks around guiltily herself). He did eat fruit so that kept me off the pediatrician bad list.

Nathan? Depends on the day. Or the hour. Or the alignment of the planets. Sometimes he'll eat whatever and sometimes he'll eat nothing. He is also not afraid to tell you what you can do with those vegetables.

We have a policy in our house that I make dinner and you either eat it or you do not eat it. Sure they are eating macaroni and cheese every day for lunch but I am making an effort for dinner. These are the new things we are doing around here and they seem to be helping.

1. Let the kids help with dinner. My friend got the kids make-your-own pizza kits for Easter and we made them the other day. First let me say that all you gluten-free people, bless your hearts. Rice flour pizza dough was not as tasty as I thought it would be. But by golly, Ethan ate the entire thing. He seemed slightly more motivated because he had made it himself. The same goes for last night's mashed potatoes that he made himself. I couldn't get the kid to touch mashed potatoes before last night (which makes him really weird. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes???). Even Nate ate them because Ethan made them. Suckers.

2. Sit down at the table to eat. I'm sure you all do this all the time and you are looking at the computer screen like I have lost my mind. Well let's just say I haven't seen the dining room table in months. When we did sit there, it was a nightmare. We started eating dinner at the long kitchen counter and suddenly my kids eat their entire plate of food. They get to eat on tall stools and no one is vying for Dad's lap and screaming. Who know? (Thanks for the tip on that one, Ginny).

3. Don't rule out bribery. Just offer them dessert already. If you are sneaky like me, your kids mistakenly believe that applesauce is a dessert, as are fresh strawberries and blueberries. I'm sure they will figure it out at some point but until then, this is me riding the wave to the shore.

Tell us what you do to make sure your kids eat. It's a judgment-free zone here. All you people that give your kids dinosaur chicken nuggets for breakfast? I know you are out there.


Claudia eats easily three plain bagels a day.

It is disturbing.

But we got great tip from our pediatrician. Each child tries X number of bites of a new food each day. (X being their age, so right now my kids each take 4 bites of a trying food each night)

They were resistant at first, but it has really opened up doors to some new foods in our house.

And, of course, sometimes I repeat trying foods.

Resell Rights writes...

20 tips for picky eaters.
1. Respect your child's hunger — or lack thereof.
2. Stay calm.
3. Keep an eye on the clock.
4. Don't expect too much.
5. Limit liquid calories.
6. Start small.
7. Boycott the clean plate club.
8. Leave taste out of it.
9. Be patient with new foods.
10. Eat breakfast for dinner.
11. Make it fun.
12. Recruit your child's help.
13. Set a good example.
14. Be sneaky.
15. Keep it separate.
16. Stick to the routine.
17. Minimize distractions.
18. Don't offer dessert as a reward.
19. Expect some food preferences to stick.
20. Know when to seek help.

Jene' writes...

Thanks for the great tips so far (Kristen and commenters). I, too, have a wild-card kind of eater. She likes tofu and prosciutto and frozen peas (as well as pizza, hot dogs, and chicken nuggests), but she does her best dinner eating munching on ingredients while we cook. We do try to eat both breakfast and dinner at either our table or hers. Like Kristen, typically I make dinner and either she eats it or she doesn't. True confession time, though: this morning I let my 2-year-old eat strawberry tart for breakfast. She's sick and miserable and, hey, it has strawberries in it! She ate about 3 bites.

Amber writes...

My older child is fairly picky. And she hates mashed potatoes, too. Or really any kind of potato except the chip or the fry. I started making chicken nuggets and mac 'n cheese from scratch because then I don't feel so bad.

My baby, who is 9 months old, LOVES food. He's pretty much in raptures over every single thing he's tried. I feel slightly smug. I totally know this will bite me in the posterior at some point, but for now I'm reveling in it. ;)

Kristin writes...

What's wrong with dinosaur nuggets?? :)

kelly writes...

ok, not because i am clever, but because i tend to be a bit frazzled and discombobulated since the second kid in fewer than two years was born, i have, on occassion (and i'm not admitting how often "on occassion" actually means) kind of forgotten to feed my two year-old lunch and WOW does he eat a great dinner when that happens, go figure.

also, when i know he's particularly hungry, i will put only one food item on his plate at a time, starting with the least desirable ones like vegetables, and moving on up to dessert. i don't know how long that little charade will last, but it's been working lately, so i ain't knockin' it.

i never insist that my kid eat all of the food on his plate, or that he take a certain number of bites. i don't believe in food wars ever since i became anorexic as a teenager after fighting bitter, drawn-out food wars with my parents for my entire childhood. i figure: they'll eat when they're hungry.

Cheryl writes...

My husband is the picky eater in our house. At least, he's picky when it comes to vegetables or fruit. He loves processed junk food though. Before we were married, he was sick about every month with some sort of cold or other illness. He was getting NO vitamins. So, I crushed up some daily vitamins and started mixing them into whatever I cook. Suddenly, he hasn't been sick in 2 and a half years. Coincidence?

The kids eat anything you put in front of them. Thank the Lord they take after me and not him. I don't think I do anything special. I make dinner as I see fit and you eat or you don't eat. Up to you. I do try to fit at least one thing I know each kid will eat into dinner. Plus, the sneaky vitamins.

eboni writes...

i have a premature son who is getting ready to turn 2. He won't eat any table food. He is only eating stage 3 baby foodl. Will he try it? sometimes, he can't seem to get past the feel of food. Once he touches it he then, nicely, puts it back into my hand and pushes it away. Funny thing is he will eat graham crackers. HELP!!! The fact that he will eat the baby food I don't freak to much however I would like for my son to start gaining more weight. I feel like I am not a good mother.

Elaine writes...

I have to admit, I can get frustrated when my toddler won't eat, and I know he'll get fussy shortly because of it. He still insists on his bottle, so I give only a couple of ounces of milk, and quickly offer more substantial stuff too.

Actually tho, toddlers don't require more than a few bites of each food group per day, and self regulation is the best method of feeding for them. So, like another parent said, if they don't eat now, the next meal they probably will be good and hungry!

I just try to offer at least 4 different nutritious things per meal. (Low sugar, low processing).

My oldest, 7 yr old, refuses anything that resembles a vegetable. However, he has gotten used to rice and lentils. Which have lots of fiber and vitamins, slyly. He has been eating this since he started on solid foods, and will eat it several times a week. As long as you can make it tasty (chicken stock, slight curry spices), its a great option.

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