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Not eating dinner

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
My daughter has gotten into a bad habit. I'll make dinner and lately she has been refusing it and asking for a sandwich or an alternate. I'm honestly tired of having to prepare several meals every night: my autistic son will only eat a handful of stuff, and mostly junk, though I put a spoonful of whatever we are having onto his plate in hopes that he might deign to sample it; my infant, of course, eats a jar of baby food and cereal then gets whatever we are having to "explore"; but the eldest has decided that she does not want what we are having. We are pescatarian and she does not like seafood. But I work full time. I don't want to (insert petulant foot-stamping here) put in the extra work of preparing her an alternate meal or "reward" her obstinance by letting her fix herself something else or letting her hold out until dessert. I mean, when we have fish fillets, then I'll just bake her some chicken, but when I do a stew or casserole, then it is a bit more difficult to make her an alternate.
post #2 of 30
I make one meal. But I make sure that there's a side or something that everyone likes. I've yet to find a meal that everyone in my family loves other than tacos. So each night is something one person likes and I make sides that everyone else will eat and we deal.
post #3 of 30
I also refuse to be a short-order cook. If it is something that I know someone doesn't like, I offer an alternative, but just because you don't want it, is not a reason to not eat it, in my house, barring illness.

What works in my house may not work for other people, so I am not telling anyone what to do.
post #4 of 30
I do the same as the pp. I cook one meal, period. There are always sides the kids can eat if they opt not to eat the entree. There is fruit afterward. But that's it.

My kids are great eaters as a result.
post #5 of 30
Count us in the One Meal crowd. I make one thing a night. Now, I will offer several veggie sides and there is always fresh fruit but I make what I make and you get what you get. Otherwise, there is always breakfast in the morning. No exceptions.
post #6 of 30
I'm a one meal for all cook too. But I do understand that may not work for you. Do you think part of the issue is that your son gets "special" food so your daughter wants something "special" too? (My kiddo is special needs too so I get that you may not be able to just insist your son eat whatever you fix.)

Do you think it would help to involve your daughter in meal planning? Who are you cooking for, is it just you and her or a partner too? If it's just the two of you (plus a bit for your son and baby) would it work just to make the sandwich she usually asks for instead of making dinner?

Catherine
post #7 of 30
Your stews and casseroles...are they of fish/seafood base? Being someone who dislikes seafood I know I wouldn't want to eat it either.
for sure try and at least have sides that appeal to her.
My son (3) goes through periods of not wanting what I cook so I always makesure there are a few items he likes and he snacks on healthy food throughout the day.
post #8 of 30
We make one meal with at least one thing that each person likes. My 5 year old picky eater often has cream cheese on bread with the veggies because she doesn't like many protein sources.

It's not making lots of extra meals or feeling pushed around. It's just focusing on feeding people what they love to eat in an atmosphere of family harmony and love, rather than conflict.
post #9 of 30
We make one meal, but try to include a few different choices.

If we do, say, roast chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, I'll let dd have bread instead of the sweet potatoes (which she doesn't like) and serve fruit as well. We do a lot of one-dish meals--casseroles, bean soups, veggie soups, etc.--and with these we'll always serve a grain (brown rice, quinoa, bread) and some fruit, so that dd has something to eat if she doesn't like the main dish. If she's tried everything on her plate, genuinely doesn't like it, and is absolutely famished, I'll let her have bread, turkey or cheese, or some fruit.

How old is your dd? I think that makes a difference.
post #10 of 30
How old is she? I learned at a very young age how to make my own sandwich! My mom made one meal but she did not have a problem letting me make my own food if that's what I wanted. I did not like the same food as everyone else in the family, I still don't, and I'm glad she didn't make me just sit there and be miserable. But I did learn that making sure that there was something for me to eat for dinner was my responsibility, not hers.

I don't see letting her make her own food as being a "reward". It's a responsibility as long as she knows that it has to be nutritionally sound. She may not be being "obstinate", I know I've had times when my taste has genuinely changed. And if she is being stubborn, she may get over it very quickly when the novelty of making her own meal is gone.
post #11 of 30
I make one meal, planning one part of it that I know dd will like. She's 4yo and will often be a bit of a pill about eating dinner, but we generally ask that she at least try one bite of everything. She often decides that it tastes pretty good afterall, but occasionally she really won't want anything I've fixed, in which case she is welcome to fix herself something from her shelf in the fridge, but I'm not going to fix another meal. We keep her shelf stocked with yogurt, cheese, baby carrots, hummus, grapes, and the like. I really try to avoid power struggles over food. I definitely wouldn't make dinners that I know she dislikes for several nights in a row. On the odd occasion that I'm fixing something dh and I LOVE but that I know she's not a fan of, I try to keep in mind that I made that choice of what to serve- I chose to ignore her preferences- and in those cases, I'm really happy that she can easily and cheerfully make herself a simple meal of healthful foods.
post #12 of 30
I too, will not make alternates, unless someone is ill.

I already have to take into account food allergies and diet restrictions. On top of that I account for preferences, if I know they don't like mushrooms or olives, then I leave them out, or set some aside before adding.

So after all that, no. You eat what's at the table.
post #13 of 30
Nope. One meal only. I am not the short order cook. If your child is physically able to make their own sandwich or their own bowl of cereal... that's the choice ....eat what's served or serve yourself one of those choices.
post #14 of 30
I make one meal, but if someone doesn't feel like eating it, I offer reasonable alternatives. Cereal, fruit, sandwich, heating up leftovers. I wouldn't expect my DH or I to eat something we didn't like,or didn't feel like eating at the moment and I don't expect it of my children either.

I let everyone know ahead of time, and during prep what I'm making for our meal. If someone doesn't feel like, say,spaghetti, I let them know what their alternatives are. I'm not going to make a whole seperate meal, but I will put forth a little more effort to make sure everyone is reasonably happy with their meal.
post #15 of 30
We make one meal, and the kids have to take a "No thank you bite" of everything. If they don't eat dinner, they can have left-over dinner later if they are hungry. If we have dessert, they get dessert, no matter what they eat of their dinner. In either case we'll have a small bed-time snack, usually a piece of fruit, but that's it. I don't do short-order cook stuff, and we don't make second meals. That sounds harsher than we really are about it. I won't force them to eat all the food on their plates, I won't reward with desserts but neither will I cater to finicky eaters.
post #16 of 30
If my dd doesn't like what we have for dinner, there are a few other healthy options available for her that she can get herself. They aren't that exciting (cheese, nuts, fruit, PB) but if she truly doesn't like something, I won't make her eat it or go hungry. I am busy, though, and don't make it for her. She almost always eats what we eat.

My personal feelings are that having power struggles over food can lead to issues with food down the line, so I back off. I don't spend the time to cook something else, though.
post #17 of 30
We make one meal and if the kids choose not to eat it, they can wait until breakfast. My husband *really* frowns on pickiness and the kids are pretty willing to try everything. The kids have a joke they got from a manners book where they go "Eww, I hate _____!" and then try it and say, "Mmm, not bad!" which usually gets them over any grumpiness over foods they don't love. If one of us has a food we really hate (I won't touch pickles with a 10' pole!) we don't make that part of a main dish, but I can't think of any for the kids, actually. My 3 yr. old isn't a big vegetable fan, but we make him eat some (like maybe only 3 brussel sprouts, or a couple tablespoons of kale).
The only alternate foods they can have aren't terribly appealing-- raw veggies or nuts-- and they never, ever choose them over our (very tasty) dinners.
post #18 of 30
We are struggling with this issue too. I want to ask the moms who are strict about making only one meal two questions:

1. What do you do if the child is very angry and demanding another food? My partner and I feel that it sort of ruins our meal if our kid is yelling at us the entire time we're eating! (We have tried telling him to stay in his room until he's ready to behave, but he won't stay and we don't have a way of locking him in and that seems pretty extreme anyway.) But we don't want to reward the rude demands by giving in!

2. If your children choose to "wait until breakfast" rather than eating what you made, do they really go hungry all night without complaint, and if not how do you respond to their cries of hunger?
post #19 of 30
We fix dinner and if DD eats it fine, if she doesn't fine. Sometimes she's snacked while I've been cooking. And then at times she eats cheese or fruit right after we're done. What a person eats is their choice and it's never an issue in our house. We don't want DD to have any issues about food and we want her to continue being able to self regulate well.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post
We are struggling with this issue too. I want to ask the moms who are strict about making only one meal two questions:

1. What do you do if the child is very angry and demanding another food? My partner and I feel that it sort of ruins our meal if our kid is yelling at us the entire time we're eating! (We have tried telling him to stay in his room until he's ready to behave, but he won't stay and we don't have a way of locking him in and that seems pretty extreme anyway.) But we don't want to reward the rude demands by giving in!

2. If your children choose to "wait until breakfast" rather than eating what you made, do they really go hungry all night without complaint, and if not how do you respond to their cries of hunger?
I only make one meal, but my DD has never been rude if she doesn't want what we're eating. She's only 4, but she's been able to get her own snacks for over a year and a half ..... at least things like triscuts or sliced cheese, cherry tomatoes or grapes, and I try to keep a covered bowl of garbanzo beans or some hummus in the refrigerator. She's never gotten up and gotten something else while we're having dinner, but she could if she wanted to.
I really don't understand the "wait until breakfast" part. Doesn't your DS have a snack before bed? Can't he just have something after dinner if he wasn't hungry for dinner? If he isn't allowed to eat between dinner and bed maybe that's why he gets so upset about not liking dinner. We never ever deny our DD food or try to coerce her to eat because being able to self regulate your own food intake is so important for being a healthy non-obese adult. We wouldn't dream of interfering with this natural ability.

I grew up in a house where if you asked for something you ate it, ALL of it. My ILs have tried to encourage DD to eat, until I explained we don't do that, so I'm sure DH was made to eat at mealtimes. I'm fat. My DH is fat. DD isn't and I don't want to cause her to be by making her ignore her body's cues and eat for social reasons.
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