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3yo DS eating STUGGLES/BATTLES! how to get past the struggles?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Alright, so i was going to post this in the nutrition forum but i really feel it is way beyond nutritional needs, it has now become a something else. The daily battle in our house over what ds eats is making me and ds crazy!!!!!

i truly do not want to have eating be a struggle, and i am fully aware that mixing stress and food is not a good combination. So for you moms out there that have been through a picky eater, tell me how you get past the struggles? For me to just sit back and say, "no child will starve themselves and he will eat what his body needs" is ridiculous b/c i have done that and he either eats nothing at all or wants to eat foods that are sweet or just do not have enough nutritional value (such as breads, fig bars, waffles/pancakes, granola bars...all organic of course but not a balanced diet, even looked at over a period of time). Yes, my son has a sweet tooth, like me but we really do not keep sweets in the house and when we do bake cookies or muffins, i am always sneaking in as much "extras" as possible (oat bran, wheat germ, flax seeds, and veggies possible) and using minimal sweetners. my ds refuses all legumes or beans(except edamame) will eat tofu only from the health food store ( not mine ) no fish, turkey is the only meat he ever will touch, the only veggies he likes are carrots, occasional salads, green peas, and zucchini if it is baked in something. He likes things very plain so he has NEVER touched anything i have made for dh and i to eat for dinner or lunch. ANYTHING new on his plate is an instant "no" and he will not even try one bite. he is a big snacker so i try to make snacks as nutritional as possible, at the same time every day and well before the next meal so that he does not have a full belly before a meal. I have bought three kids cookbooks, all are GREAT except ds won't eat the things i make out of them and i am running out of ideas. It has been almost a year of his palate slowly narrowing and i really do not know what to do. the only incentive we have ever used for getting him to eat anything is organic apple juice for dessert, and that is pretty rare. he knows that treats do not come before meals but it is not very often that a treat is available after a meal. i just cannot find a way to talk to him abuot this (he will be four in may) and we have talked al ot about what eating healthy foods does for your body, and he knows what sweets and unhealthy foods do to your body as well. moderation truly is my goal for the long run but for now we are stuck! what do you do when your child is sick of all the foods he does like but won't try ANYTHING new?

i'm sick of the battles......
post #2 of 23
Absolutely no help, unless it helps to know your child’s diet sounds better than mine.

Subscribing because I’ve been interested in the food control dilemma as well.
post #3 of 23
I guess my thing is, you did mention some things he will eat in your post?

"will eat tofu only from the health food store
turkey is the only meat he ever will touch, the only veggies he likes are carrots, occasional salads, green peas, and zucchini if it is baked in something
such as breads, fig bars, waffles/pancakes, granola bars"

Honestly, you can't make the kid eat. As much as you want to reason, offer new things, bribe, encourage, whatever...you can't do it. This is a phase that he WILL GET OVER, that should be your mantra...I hear that you want a healthy, well-balanced diet for him and that is awesome and hopefully soon, you will get there...
...my nephew ate nothing, I mean, NOTHING but peanut butter and organic jam on whole wheat for about 2 weeks straight (around 4 years old)...not the best, but it was the way it was, and he got over it...he is 17 now and healthy and none the worse for it...

I am not making light of your situation, it does sound very frustrating, but really, what can you do? Short of punishing, forcing, bribing, controlling, setting yourself up for him to have weird food issues...
...offer him what he likes and will eat, let him eat it, introduce a mutli vitamin for the time being, make sure he is well hydrated, keep trying out new foods without pressure, and take it in stride...

Take it for what it's worth, but that is what I would do...

Good luck to you!!
post #4 of 23
This may or may not be helpful, but it's my only take on the food thing. We have had no battles with our kids and food at all. They make all of their own choices about what to eat, how much of it to eat, and when to eat it. There is no forcing or bribing to eat more, or to try anything new. We have treated them exactly how we would want to be treated when it comes to food (well, and everything else too but that isnt the point lol) We have no rules about when sweets can be eaten.

If it were me I would just step back and relax a bit. I would find out what foods he does enjoy eating and make them available for him.
post #5 of 23
I can really hear your frustration. And I believe you when you say you're sick of battles so my question, despite you saying you just can't, is why not drop the battles?

I don't believe you can win food battles because aside from force feeding a child intravenoulsy, you have no way of making him eat anything he doesn't want. He will always win that. And really, eating is often the only place kids have absolute control, and maybe right now he wants that.

After reading your post I'm thinking he has a well balanced diet. Balanced doesn't mean he has to eat everything from every group; just that he eats something from each. From what you wrote he is eating:

edamame
tofu
turkey
carrots
green peas
occasional salads
zuchinni
bread products

That's a pretty decent list for being a picky and busy boy. The only thing I would try to add is some sort of calcium source, be it almonds, almond butter, broccoli, yougurt, soy milk, rice milk, cow milk or cheese if you do dairy.

How about oranges or grapes etc to help with the sweet tooth?

I heard a nutritional expert once say that if your pre-schooler eats 12 TBSP of food in a 48 hr period there is no need to worry. That we often forget just how small their stomachs are and try to provide too much food.

For getting my DS to eat I have always only put a small amount of food in front of him, because he gets visually overwhelmed with his plate and then checks out of dinner. He feels great if he eats it all and asks for more.

I would also try ditching the scheduled meal and snack times for a snack tray left out all day. Kids are by nature grazers and it may be he's not hungry when meals are served. Maybe he doesn't want to interupt what he's doing to eat. A tray with lots of options he likes and maybe one new thing put out in the am on a kid level table may be do the trick. Then he's in control of when and what he's eating. If it's become about control this could help.

Will he do dips at all? Often that's an easy way to sneak some good stuff in.

I would also, when putting something new out, not mention it at all. Let him find his way to it. I would stop mentioning food at all and just start putting the tray out.

And if he has a sweet tooth and you're not OK with him wanting only waffles or granola bars I would not keep those in the house at all. That way if he eats nothing holding out for the granola bar you can show him there are none. If you're OK with him having them then I would just let him, while still putting the tray out. Maybe cut a granola bar or waffle into small pieces and have that on the tray with other choices.

And my last advice would be to read one night Green Eggs and Ham. it has come in handy when DS hasn't wanted to try something new. We usually will quote from it - usually the part where he tries the green eggs and ham and it turns out he likes it. That and being consious of the fact that it can take 10-12 tries of a new food before you develop a taste for it might help change the tone of dinner. Make it lighter?

Hope something here helps,
Nicole.
post #6 of 23
And to piggy back on what unschoolnMa said about her kids acces to sweets:

I don't care if DS has cake before he eats dinner. If I was going to give him a cookie or some cake during the day, maybe after a meal, what difference does it make if he eats it before? I do this because I used to think only healthy food before sweets, but what I realized I was doing was playing a bit of a control game with DS. If I'm going to give it to him anyway why does it have to be when I say?

I was also worried my son would force feed himself beyond being full just to get that sweet reward. That he wouldn't learn to respect his body's full signals.
post #7 of 23
just to add, I think children, and people in general before it is beat out of them by society are natural grazers...I plan on maybe having a set meal time once in a while or whatever, or maybe one set meal of the day for more family togetherness type thing, but like, I am all for grazing, because I think most children, honestly, if left alone to decide without pressure, will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full...and food issues start when we set meal times, make them eat, have control issues with them, deny them things they like until they are *forced* to eat things they don't like, when we force them to eat a certain amount etc...

I am not advocating a life of junk by any means, but anything that is in our home, they are allowed to eat...well except maybe the hard liquor lol....but it not only keeps us in check to buy mostly healthy foods, it also lets our child know that in the bigger scheme of things not related to food, that they have the same rights as we do in our family as it relates to basic choices like food...
post #8 of 23
Repeated exposure to a food WILL studies prove help reduce pickyness.

This does NOT mean forcing any food on a child.

But it means exposing him to the food by having it as part of a meal.

One of the best ways is to serve a daily all family meal with many foods.

So for example you might serve:

Tofu
Rice
Salad
Beans

or
Turkey
Carrots
Salad
Sweet Potato Chips

or
Chicken
Pasta
Zucchin Bread
Fruit

Serve in bowls: NOTHING on his plate until he indicates he wants it.

Make it clear that even if he puts it on his plate he can totally change his mind and not eat it.

You and your dh should eat and not pay to much attention to what he does or does not eat.

And always serve a dessert. His getting that should not be dependant on eating anything else.
post #9 of 23
Oh I am all for offering new foods too, and I think you should...however, offer them the same way you would expect anyone else to offer you a new food..he deserves that...

i.e. you are at dinner, someone places a plate of whatever in front of you and says "this is such and such, it's really good, you can try it if you like!"....
You say something along the lines of "sure, i'll consider it"....or you are saying yes or no by either trying it or not....
conversation dropped....no one is like, try the whatever, please try it, just one bite, you might like it, you'll never know, cmon, please, just one bite and you can have dessert...

I am not suggesting that is what YOU do, but a lot of parents are like that with introductions to new foods...

definately introduce new foods still, along with the ones he will eat, but present it as you would with anyone else...

basically, agreeing with maya...
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by our veggie baby
i.e. you are at dinner, someone places a plate of whatever in front of you and says "this is such and such, it's really good, you can try it if you like!"....
You say something along the lines of "sure, i'll consider it"....or you are saying yes or no by either trying it or not....
conversation dropped....no one is like, try the whatever, please try it, just one bite, you might like it, you'll never know, cmon, please, just one bite and you can have dessert...

I am not suggesting that is what YOU do, but a lot of parents are like that with introductions to new foods...

definately introduce new foods still, along with the ones he will eat, but present it as you would with anyone else...

basically, agreeing with maya...

Yes, we defintitley don't beg them to try it. Just a neutral offer, I don't evens say "It's really good" I figure they can decide that for themselves.

And there is no commenting on their eating or not eating.

And as I have said dessert is completley unrelated to whether or not you ate dinner.
post #11 of 23
Here are some of the most excellent suggestions I have gleaned from this list among other places that have worked well for our family.

- at meals we always serve at least one thing we know they will eat, even if it is just butter bread

- they serve themselves and can take what they want

- dessert, if we have it, is unrelated to how much you have or have not eaten

- we try to make meals nice- we make centerpieces, light candles, say blessings. We also begin with about a minute worth of "quiet bites" where we don't talk. This is more a family tradition than GD, but thought I would throw it in as an example of how we make meals nice.

- we don't buy food we don't want them to eat. (Not one word from any of you about my hidden chocolate stash)

- we have a snack station with nutritious snacks they can help themselves to anytime. They can help themselves to bread, fruit, and water anytime. They also have a shelf in the fridge with snacks like yogurt, pb, all-fruit, etc- they can have anytime.

- we plan and grow our own fruits and veggies. This is a great way to get them to eat fruits and veggies. We also have been sprouting- I am shocked beyond belief, but they EAT SPROUTS and LIKE IT!!!!

- nutritious play food- sounds odd, but I have seen NFL families who eat healthy food, but then buy really weird play food that represents all they would never give their child. We give them empty containers from nutritious food that we eat, as well as healthy wooden food. Just one more way we are anal retentive.

- let them help cook, compost, stomp on boxes for recycling (my one-year-old's favorite "chore"), wash or rinse dishes, dry dishes, set the table, wipe the table, dust bust the floor, etc, etc, etc. The more they feel involved, the more they will participate in my experience.

Hope these help!

You may also want to check out the thread in toddler parenting about a snack tray. I will try to find the link.
Annette
post #12 of 23
With my ds, if I let him eat as much as he wants of something he really likes, such as ice cream, he will eat an enormous amount of it the first day, a decent amount the next day, and hardly any after that. Knowing this, I don't worry about limiting it. I do try to offer "real" food when I think he is getting hungry because if he decides what he wants to eat before I have food ready, he generally can't be swayed from his choice. However, if he asks for ice cream right before dinner and I give a little to him, he'll happily eat dinner when he is done the ice cream. If I refuse to give him the ice cream because dinner is ready, he just won't eat anything. I guess he's too young to understand the concept of delayed gratification!
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
WOW! I am so glad i asked!!! You all have such great advice, things that i guess should be obvious (I don't believe you can win food battles because aside from force feeding a child intravenoulsy, you have no way of making him eat anything he doesn't want.) but for whatever reason i have not thought about. I did not give a full picture of ds diet, he does LOVE cheese and will sometimes will eat yogurt (used to be his favorite), he LOVES peanut butter, and he does love most fruit. he did not eat anything besides breastmilk and some fruit and dry cereal before the age of 2, b/c of food sensitivities to well, everything. since he started eating food though, it has not really been a matter of him getting enough calories or eating enough, but rather him eating chosing to eat the right stuff. as far as the sweet thing goes, i've really got to figure something out. he is an all or nothing kid and striking a balance with sweets has been really hard. i try not to make a big deal about sweets and granola bars, cookies, occasional juice are all things i DO buy and am okay with giving to him, but i really wish the rest of his diet could support the sweet tooth that i know he got from me.


nicole lisa- this is a VERY VERY good point, maybe this is one of the culprits of our struggles.
"I don't care if DS has cake before he eats dinner. If I was going to give him a cookie or some cake during the day, maybe after a meal, what difference does it make if he eats it before? I do this because I used to think only healthy food before sweets, but what I realized I was doing was playing a bit of a control game with DS. If I'm going to give it to him anyway why does it have to be when I say?"


the biggest thing i think i need to give up on is dinner. i am a very light eater for dinner also, but i think i should just let him graze in the afternoon until about an hour before bedtime. last night at about 5pm, after running errands for a while, he said in the car, "i'm hungry". so i said, "great it is dinnertime, let's go home and eat dinner". his body started squirming, he started whining and overall was unhappy b/c i said the big bad word, "dinner". Had i asked him if he wanted a snack, he would have been fine...he just hates dinner and dinner foods.


our veggie baby: another great point!!!!! every other phase i have ever worried about with him (one of the blessings of your first child, right) he has always worked past them. some lasted longer than others

"This is a phase that he WILL GET OVER, that should be your mantra...I hear that you want a healthy, well-balanced diet for him and that is awesome and hopefully soon, you will get there..."

he is on a multi vitamin and cod liver oil capsules and has been for about a year now and he drinks TONS of water!!!!

thank you thank you thank you ALL, i am feeling 100 times better about things (which alone i am sure will help) and i am would love any more advice you have to offer!!!!!
post #14 of 23
So happy to hear you are feeling better!!!

Good luck to you and your son, how lucky he is to have such a concerned and loving mama!!
post #15 of 23
PKMama, I"m glad you are feeling better. I know what you are going through b/c my DD can be really picky and I had a similar meltdown not long ago. When I ranted about the "only foods my DD will eat" I realized it was actually not too bad. Okay, so she hates anything green. Your kid eats salad and peas?? you are lucky! The way we get veggies into her is my DH makes his own vegetable stock from a whack of fresh veggies and DD drinks it in soup, or we make rice in it. Veggie infusion. She hates most fruit, but about once a week she will ask for a banana or an apple and eat that. I also found I can "sneak" raisins or dried apricots into her snack bag of crackers and she'll eat them too. Anyways, my point is, I do know how you feel, and when you look at the big picture it isn't always so bad. And like OVB said, it will pass.
post #16 of 23
http://mothering.com/discussions/sho...1&page=1&pp=20

Here is that link to a great thread about creating snack trays
post #17 of 23
Calling all food time "snacks" works real well for us, too.
post #18 of 23
I read somewhere (probably an article in the New Yorker?) that toddlers go through a phase of being afraid of new foods, and that whatever you haven't introduced by whatever age it starts (2, 2.5, 3) are scary. But you know, most children do outgrow that phase. We are just starting to move into it. I notice that my ds, who has been lately the best eater ever, is getting cautious about foods mixed together. He's just 25 months.

I figure, you give him food you eat that you think is good, he'll probably like it and think it's good. If he won't try it the first few times, big deal, you'll be eating it again because you like it. Right?
post #19 of 23
You've gotten so great ideas - the only other thing I'd suggest (and this might be hard, depending on your ds's friends/acquaintances) - but do you know anyone who has a child who will eat lots of different things?

Both of my dds are great eaters (they are the weird children who eat the broccoli first and then eat maybe half of their chicken or whatever ). DS is not such a great eater - much more picky.

But we all eat as a family, and I just give him what everyone else has. At first, he wouldn't eat anything green either - but after watching his sisters, he's now branched out into avocadoes and broccoli - it's a start! I really do think that it helps, though, that he sees other children eating this stuff that he is, at times, reluctant to try.

It was amazing as well (echoing what others have said) how much he started trying when I just gave him the food on a plate and left him to it, instead of trying to feed him the things I really wanted him to eat...
post #20 of 23
My Dd began food fussiness about 3 years old and we worked to not force or push. However, some simple rules helped.

1) An hour before dinner only veggies and fruits are available for snacks.

2) We all sit down together for dinner.

3) I only make one dinner. Sometimes, I keep some aside without hated spices and such.

4) If it's something new, try it. We don't force her, but she gets big cheers of Bravo! when she tries something new-esp. if it's green. (As an aside, we always have something she likes).

5) No sweets if you don't eat some good stuff. I think my Dd would fill up on sweets and not eat as much of the good stuff if I let her. Heck, I would too!

Anyway, I think your kiddo is eating pretty well. Good luck!
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