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Why can't I figure out the "right" way to feed my kid? - Page 2

post #21 of 47

Check out these links on the muffin tin idea. Put nutritious foods like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, pepper strips, cheese chunks, hardboiled egg bites, peanut butter crackers, clementine bites, grapes, beans, etc, in each individual compartment. It's like a mini bento box for kids (and/or grown ups). This can be an in-between meals snack idea and then if your child has some carrot sticks and hummus in the muffin tin at snack time you don't have to stress out about veggies as much at supper. Plus it's better to have more small meals than just 3 big ones.

 

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-infants-toddlers/feeding-picky-eater-17-tips 

 

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/top-12-family-foods

 

google images of "muffin tin snacks"

 

http://michellesjournalcorner.blogspot.com/

post #22 of 47

I'm going to give it straight:

 

We have a rule at our house, "you have two choices for dinner take it or leave it."  If a child chooses to leave it they don't get rewarded by giving them a snack later on or by making them something different.  I am not a short ordered cook.  Every child has to try at least one or two bites of every thing served them.  This is because a child's taste may change, even if they have tried it before.  If they don't care for it then they don't have to eat it.  They don't have to clear their plates, but they do have to do a "good job," meaning that they have to eat at least half of what they are given (I purposely don't give them too much).

 

If their not eating has more to do with defiance (which is why most children start out not wanting to eat something) then I inform them that if they don't do a good job then they will have left overs for the next snack or meal.  I have only had to do that once  or twice and they learned to be grateful and not demanding. 

 

Catering to children is not helpful to their character building.  If it is too hard to take a stand then I suggest juicing everyday (you can even pour the juice in ice pop molds and freeze them), or hide veggies in the foods they like.  I don't suggest this, but if your going to cater you have a responsibility to get the vitamins and nutrients in your child.  By the way the only time it is not catering is when you have a special needs child.  And even then you have to be super creative, but you still have a job to do.

 

Your a parent, not a friend.  You have a duty to give your children the best chance in life and that includes sometimes fighting the good fight and holding your ground.  Don't give up and don't give in.  Parents make picky eaters.

post #23 of 47

Both my kids were picky and completely opposite.  My dd who is now 6 only ate hard crunchy/salty food with no sauce, nothing soft or mushy.  My ds who is 4 only ate soft mushy foods with lots of sauce or dipping sauce.  Drives me crazy!!!  I tend to make foods that be altered, like I make my meatballs in the oven baked and pt a few aside for dd, add mine and ds to sauce.  Make pasta separately no sauce.  dd will eat meatballs and pasta plain, ds will eat it with sauce.  It is difficult to find meals that fit so easily.  dd will eat most any fruit while ds will only eat certain foods.  He has just started liking apples after i got caramel sauce for dipping.  dd has always eaten apples(hard/crunchy).  Kids are just so different.  My rule is that if there is no allergy they must try everything.  Try means it must be on their plate for at least a minute, and hopefully eventually they will tolerate it there the whole meal and then look/touch it.  Eventually lick it.  My dd refused to eat green beans, i started this way and now she gobbles them up asking for more.  My ds still only tolerates a minute on his plate.  Both eat broccoli and cauliflower.  dd will eat raw carrots.  ds hates carrots in any form.  So I would suggest start by just having it on the plate.  With many things that they now tolerate on their plate, the rule is they have to taste it, meaning they can lick it, kiss it.  If they take a bite and still hate it, they can spit it out.  I am very sensitive about eating disorders and food, so I am careful.  I have spoken to numerous feeding therapists and this is their recommended approach. 

post #24 of 47

I have a friend who is a nutritionist. She has inspired me to try new foods I would never have tried before, just by talking about recipes. When I told her one day that I was amazed at the variety of veggies she serves her family (b/c in our family growing up it was peas, broccoli, string beans, or corn. And iceberg lettuce). She said that she was very picky when she was young, but her mom instilled the "3 bite" rule. You had to take 3 bites of everything being served at a meal, b/c you could suffer through one bite and stubbornly insist you hate it. But by the third bite, you truly know if you really don't like something or if you can admit you might actually like it.

 

I've done this with DS and it works. He is not extremely picky, but EVERY time I serve any kind of beans, he yells, "I don't want beans. I don't like beans!!" So I give him a small scoopful and tell him to just try 3 bites, to make sure he doesn't like them. He tastes them and says (a la Sam-I-Am), "Say! I LIKE the beans!" and proceeds to eat all that I have given him, and sometimes a second portion as well. Then the next time I serve beans, it's the same routine. "I hate beans! I don't want them!".... And I make beans of some kind on a weekly basis. It gets old, but at least he's eating!

 

Also, could you make smoothies for snacks and sneak veggies in there? Cooked carrots can blend well into a strawberry smoothie, and greens go in any other kind of smoothie (if they'll drink something green, otherwise, use blueberries to cover up the green color). I've been using swiss chard in my smoothies, and it doesn't add any flavor.

post #25 of 47

I am way more with Chickie and Godsway on this.  Consuming fruits and vegetables is very important to me and my children eat them because that is what they are used to.  I also serve food where I know everyone will have a vegetable they like.  Lots of times we eat I say this is my favourite vegetable (cauliflower, edamame, kale) and it truly is.  Leading by example is important.

 

I had a friend over and her 4 year old was hungry.  I offered grapes (a fantastic snack in my book), no-go.  Same with apple or banana and even raisins and nuts.  She wanted bread plain.  They explained that she was a picky eater.

 

Then at dinner we ordered Chinese take-out and I prepped a variety of vegetables.   My daughter asked to have more take-out and I told her she had to finish the vegetables on her plate before.  So she did.  The husband then commented that I blackmailed them to eat their vegetables and that is just a difference in perception.  I consistently require vegetable consumption, because I want my children to be healthy.  In life there are certain things you need to do to be healthy/happy.  My daughter knows vegetables will grow her big and strong and keep her healthy.

 

Good for you OP for wanting to increase the veg/fruit now.

 

I recommend being consistent.  

Serve a small plate of food with vegetables on the side and then if they want more of the other say you need to finish the vegetables.   Maybe do vegetable medley and have the child pick which one of the vegetables to finish.

Help spoonfeed if your child wants.

Make a pureed vegetable soup.  We serve 3 crackers for every bowl.  Want more crackers, finish the bowl.

Have every meal have vegetables (fruit for breakfast)

Make smoothies/juices.

 

Good luck!

 

 

post #26 of 47

I think there is a fundamental disagreement about whether to coerce your children going on here. If you coerce your children in the rest of their lives, then I supposed it goes without saying that you will do so with food, too. But what about where there are allergies, sensitivities, and sensory issues? We have all of those in our house. And my husband is a picky eater, too -- the only vegetables he will eat are salads (sometimes), potatoes and occasionally sweet potatoes but they have to be topped with marshmallows. How do you deal with all that?

To the OP: Have you read "the Sneaky Chef" -- all about hiding veggies in things? Also, do you have a good juicer?

post #27 of 47

Here is what has helped for us over the long term. It's a process just like everything else. I have two -- both have been on and off picky at different times.

 

I involve them in the garden and model eating directly out of it (no chemicals). (I love food and ooh and ahh and always offer a taste to them if they're nearby.) They help plant the seeds (very imperfectly -- that's okay!). They have plants they know they can freely eat from. At 5 and 8 they still will eat some things while in the garden that they won't eat after I harvest it and put it on the table in its raw state. Like someone said, no logic here. Except, I think children have very sensitive palettes and some veggies do indeed change or lose flavor even on the short trip from the garden to the table.

 

If you don't have a garden, you can frequent your farmers market with them, befriend the farmers, try new things. The farmers love giving the kids a free taste of what they're selling. And don't forget -- all garden or farmers market veggies taste 20 times better than even the good stuff from the food co-op!!!!

 

We don't eat anything with highfructose corn syrup or soy lecithin just on principle (they're not food), which basically means no processed foods. They only have basically healthy food to choose from, so I figure it'll all round out in the end. They don't cook/bake with me much, actually, but they have from time to time, and I think that helps. But sometimes, they'll go through stages when they're living on yogurt and apples! Think long-term food appreciation.

 

Highly recommend a book: "Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health" by Susan B. Roberts and Melvin B. Heym, ISBN 0553378929 -- directly addresses food aversions and eating disorders and allowing your child to find their own taste and listen to their own bodies...also suggestions for offering new foods. Seemed even-handed and well-rounded to me.

 

Until about a year ago (so when they were 4 and 7), I never insisted they eat everything, but gently encouraged them to try at least one bite. When they did, I thanked them for trying. We talk about the fact that everyone has different tastes and that those tastes change over time -- tell them stories of things I didn't like as a child but now love. (I remember swallowing canned peas whole in order to be allowed to leave the table -- gross!) I give them small portions of what we all are eating, and ask them to finish it. When they're growing, they may ask for 4 more servings and the next week barely finish half. Recently, I decided they're old enough to take those three bites of whatever I made that they don't think they'll like. I usually insist they finish half of what I gave them -- which is a very small portion to begin with if it's something new that I think they might reject.

 

We compost, so since I'm giving them small portions, I'll either finish the rest of theirs or compost it happily. But we also try not to waste food on general principle...it can be costly. They're beginning to save their own pocket money and they go grocery shopping with me, so they're beginning to understand this.

 

And my husband and I both model, model, model. We eat and talk about what we love and why we love it, the flavor, the texture, the different combinations, etc. It becomes a fun game and an important part of our time together at the table -- revering our food.

post #28 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

I think there is a fundamental disagreement about whether to coerce your children going on here. 


OP here. Thanks for pointing this out. I grew up being coerced into eating and I am just not at all interested in doing that to my kid because I really think it did not have good outcomes for me. I still appreciate hearing all of the things that people do, though. I just know what definitely will not work for me.

post #29 of 47

My kiddos always have the option of a PB&J if they don't like what we're having.  I tend to make meals that has at least one component that everyone likes, though.  If I make pork chops, corn and broccoli, I know ds1 will go nuts with the pork chops, ds2 will tear down the corn, and ds3 will eat at least 2 servings of broccoli.  We also have a 3 bite rule, but it is very no fuss.  They eat 3 medium sized bites, make their declaration, and we go on.  If I make soup or something that I know ds1 (my pickiest eater) won't eat, he can always have a PB&J.  He's old enough now that he can make one for himself, even.  I refuse to make my kids go to bed hungry.  My family was a "take it or leave it and be hungry" family growing up and a "clean your plate if you want dessert" family and I have major issues with food and my weight now.

post #30 of 47

I've spent a great deal of time with children in organized group settings...and one concept that I took away around food is that of the "thank you bite".  Basically--unless the food is something that will make you ill--you take a bite, chew it, swallow it and then, say "thank you" to acknowledge that someone went through the trouble of preparing something for you.  You, don't have to eat more of it, you just have to try it and say "thank you"--no complaining, no fussing, no whining.  The kids in the group that learned this concept did a great job and really appreciated the clear expectations, one bite (or more if you like!) and a thank you--and the volunteers really appreciated being thanked!  

 

I figure, in this way, we can learn about gratitude and possibly discover a new food to enjoy.  

 

That said, I have a 21 month old, and I try to give him three items at each meal (three compartment plate)--an "entree" which is usually the main dish we are eating (last night it was salmon and black beans); a veggie (last night it was a couple of pieces of romaine and guac); and a small amount of fruit (half a clementine).  With the exception of the romaine he ate all of it (yeah for a kid who love's salmon!).  

 

I also try to make sure that one item on his plate is something that I know he will eat...so he may get a very small portion of something we are having that I don't "think" he will care for and then I will make him a scrambled egg and put it in another spot on his plate (that way he can try something, yet I know he'll get some protein if he is hungry).  

 

I also offer tastes when I am preparing food--and then thank him for trying something and discuss how things taste after he has tried them.  "I really like that you tried that bite of radish.  It was spicy wasn't it?!  I thought so too!  Would you like another bite, or would you prefer to try something else?"  I use this response even if he spits something back out into my hand...no shame no blame.  I mean, I don't like all foods, why should I expect him to like them all?  

post #31 of 47

Speaking of gratitude…

 

I think that letting nutrition rule our table 100% to the point of forcing anyone to eat what’s there just because of the nutrients is missing the point of enjoying good food. Otherwise, why not just take supplements and forget about food entirely. I’d like my children to appreciate good food, not be stressed out every time they have to make a decision about what to eat. Stress, especially around eating and food – the things that ought to be nourishing us -- cannot be healthful, even if the molecular make-up of the food is nutritious. Meanwhile, true taste can help guide us nutritionally as well. Let’s face it, you can’t call a Twinkie or even a bag of potato chips real food, and truly they don’t have much actual flavor. Food from good soil can be treated as a sacred thing that can be approached with gratitude, thanks, and reverence. There is a world of flavor out there in fresh, good, real food (very difficult to find in a regular grocery store these days!). Study after study of school gardens shows that if children are offered the chance to taste, for tastes sake, without pressure, that they can discover and appreciate the diverse array of flavors that are available to us. (not just sweet, salty, and everything else) I imagine this works at home just as well.

 

These are just some of the great books addressing this issue of taste and quality regarding food.

 

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

The Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters

 

Also, for kids, don’t forget Lillian Hoban’s “Bread and Jam for Francis.” Francis had the pb&j option and it worked out just fine! J

post #32 of 47

I gagged on fresh tomatoes when I was little. Couldn't stand them.  These were fresh from my dad's garden, too, not nasty grocery store tomatoes.  My dad was aghast and incensed and took it personally and weirdly thought I was gagging on purpose.  It was a real bummer because frankly I wanted to enjoy them like my big sisters and brother did, and here my dad was turning something that was beyond my control into a moral character issue. irked.gif  eyesroll.gif  Fortunately my mom didn't make a big deal of it.  For a while she didn't waste precious fresh tomatoes on my salad, but eventually she had me try a slice slathered with Miracle Whip. I know, gross huh?  I grew up with Miracle Whip and loved it, and it did the job. I've loved fresh tomatoes ever since. 

 

There are plenty of foods that I didn't like when I was a kid that I enjoy now.  And that's what I tell my kids when they find mushrooms in the beef stew.  "You don't like it now, but you might love it when you're an adult. Just pick around it and don't complain."

 

It's interesting to me that regardless of what attitude or tone towards children the poster has, the solutions here on this thread are mostly the same: try it.  Some recommend you do so with love and respect, some recommend you do so mindful of parental authority.  But it's basically the same advice. 

post #33 of 47

 

Quote:
My daughter asked to have more take-out and I told her she had to finish the vegetables on her plate before.  So she did.  The husband then commented that I blackmailed them to eat their vegetables and that is just a difference in perception.  I consistently require vegetable consumption, because I want my children to be healthy.

 

Lol! Blackmail might be, "Daughter, if you don't eat your vegetables I'm going to show the kindergarten class that photo of 3 y.o. you nekkid in the wading pool!"

 

I have that same rule that you do.  When ds asks if he can have a slice of cake a lot of times I require him to have a small piece of fruit first.  And he does, no problem! He likes fruit!  I suppose it could be called bribery? I don't think so, though.

post #34 of 47

I've been thinking about this thread all afternoon, and it occurs to me that all this "trying not to make an issue about food" is totally making an issue of it.  It's being put in the kids' court, and it's this monster for everyone involved.   Food isn't an issue here.  I don't care if you eat, and I don't care if you don't eat.  It's your body.

 

BUT...I'm not a short order cook either.  We eat what we have.  Usually, that's meat and veggies, and light carbs.  Sometimes it's pancakes.  Sometimes it's milkshakes (yep, for supper).  I don't feel like I'm holding out on the kids.  They eat what we eat.  We changed our eating habits years ago, and so, mostly, there isn't junk sitting around to be had.  If there is, well, we all eat it. 

 

So, it's not about "not letting them" or whatever, it's just facts of life.  I had x dollars to spend at the store to feed 6 people.  I have to make sure that we aren't hungry, or getting sick, so this is what there is, folks.  And, again, when dd1 wants to go to Sonic, sometimes we try to make it happen. 

 

Food just doesn't have to be an issue. 

post #35 of 47

I learned a lot by reading this thread and thought I'd share a theory that my acquaintance told me.  The theory is very close to what one poster mentioned.

 

She is a farm manager.  Her theory, she says, is definitely not proven, but she believes kids don't eat vegetables because of human genetics and instincts.  When we were cave people, we had no grocery stores to tell us what foods were safe to eat.  Kids had to learn from their parents what foods to eat, just like animal moms teach their babies which ones to eat.  Usually, poisonous plants are associated with bitter tastes.  Poisonous plants (and animals) are usually bright colored, too (pretty colored mushrooms?  Stay away!)  Therefore, it is a natural defense mechanism to avoid bitter foods until they are old enough to know which food is safe or not.  Until then, young children prefer plain foods and generally white colored foods, and of course, sweeter tastes because that is always safe in nature.  This totally made sense to me.  Most toddlers do prefer fruits over vegetables.  My DD is 3 and she definitely prefers plainer, whiter foods, and fruits over vegetables.  Before 2.5 years old, she devoured any kind of vegetable, including leafy greens like kale.  Now, she devours only potatoes, cauliflower, oatmeal, quinoa, ww bread, ww pasta, brown rice, onions, yogurt, tofu, beans...... all plain and whitish.  She will eat other vegetables, but they are now at the bottom of her list and eats very little. 

 

One thing that helped my DD eat greens was peanut sauce, like Thai restaurants. I try to make a plainer version at home, mixing only a few ingredients and a lot less sugar. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

 

What all of you are doing sounds great.  Having kids try them and talk about them seems to be the key.  I liked the post about the "thank you bites."  I was having a hard time balancing not forcing DD to eat particular foods, and also teaching her to be thankful for the food/to the cook who took the time to make it (me!)   After reading the thread, I feel more relaxed about it.  Thanks everyone!

 

post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

Ellen Satter's book, Child of Mine, was recommended to me here, and I'd like to pass along the recommendation. While I found the tone of the book condescending (for reasons I cannot understand, she judges parents whose children don't have healthy eating habits - who does she think her audience is?) I think her advice is outstanding.

 

 

This book saved our family from a lot of problems and I am so glad I found it prior to our DS starting solids.  My DH and I grew up with parents/care givers who had VERY twisted/damaged food issues, I could write books about it.

 

One of the things Satter outlines in her book that probably made the biggest impact on us was how kids go through phases where they eat everything, then nothing and why that happens.  Had I not read her book, I would have been one of those short-order cook parents, my DH would have forced me into it.  Even now, he tends to completely freak out if DS skips an element of his meal - he thinks DS will starve to death by morning if he doesn't, for example, eat the bun from his hamburger.  Like I said, we were raised with major food issues that still exist. 

 

post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveZip View Post

 

What all of you are doing sounds great.  Having kids try them and talk about them seems to be the key.  I liked the post about the "thank you bites."  I was having a hard time balancing not forcing DD to eat particular foods, and also teaching her to be thankful for the food/to the cook who took the time to make it (me!)   After reading the thread, I feel more relaxed about it.  Thanks everyone!

 



I also like the thank you bite idea.  I think my DS is old enough to understand the concept and I am going to start phasing it in.

 

post #38 of 47

Quote:
I have that same rule that you do.  When ds asks if he can have a slice of cake a lot of times I require him to have a small piece of fruit first.  And he does, no problem! He likes fruit!  I suppose it could be called bribery? I don't think so, though.

 

I agree.  It is not bribery, coercion or blackmail.  Just making sure that you caringly teach your kids what is important.  Kind of like saying Please and Thank You.

 

.....I would love a world without food issues...... I would also love a world without junk food.... and while I am dreaming I would like to have world peace.  :)

post #39 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by huha View Post

 

I agree.  It is not bribery, coercion or blackmail.  Just making sure that you caringly teach your kids what is important.  Kind of like saying Please and Thank You.

 

.....I would love a world without food issues...... I would also love a world without junk food.... and while I am dreaming I would like to have world peace.  :)



We would have world peace if people weren't always being coerced into following some leader instead of listening to their instincts. How do you get your child to eat a polite bite or three without some form of coercion? You tell them and they actually do it just because you tell them to?

post #40 of 47

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

We would have world peace if people weren't always being coerced into following some leader instead of listening to their instincts. How do you get your child to eat a polite bite or three without some form of coercion? You tell them and they actually do it just because you tell them to?



Well...yes. I decide that I am OK if he won't try it, and I tell him why I think it might benefit him to try it, and usually then he will try it. If he doesn't try it, I don't get excited. As he gets older, he's more willing to try new things, and I'm less upset if he won't, so it works better and better. But even when he was the age of the OP's daughter, he tried some new foods when I offered them in a low-pressure way. 

 

He's still picky, but he's eating nutritious food including vegetables, and I'm not putting in more work than I want to do to make it happen. I think for some other moms, having to pull some ingredients out of dinner to prepare "plain" would be a big pain, but it doesn't bother me.

 

It would bother me a LOT if I were sneaking ingredients into his food. I would not be able to do that. My son has told me that it would be fine if I did that! He thinks it's a great idea. Well, that's nice, but I'm the mom and for me it's important to be transparent about food. I also don't want to insist and feed him things he doesn't want to eat. But, I understand if these strategies make sense to other parents. 

 

I think, if you are super-worried about your child getting enough nutrients, you can give a vitamin supplement rather than have a huge battle at the dinner table. 

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