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How common is this? And how do you deal with it?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Okay, I am referring to my increasingly-picky 4yo eater...

I am a big proponent of healthy eating, whole foods, organics, etc. My dh allows him self much more slack with food, but at home we keep a healthy pantry and provide and eat healthy meals.

My ds never used to be that picky, but it just seems to keep increasing over the past year and a half.

He has decided he really hates tomatoes and anything made from tomatoes (pasta sauce, salsa, etc). Although he will eat pizza.
He also is very against potatoes (white or sweet), eggs, most vegis (except raw carrots and leaves, such as raw spinach, lettuce, etc), most fruits (except grapes, apples, and raisins). He does not like meat (except bacon and pepperoni... and he claims these are not meat).
He hates nut butters... now says he does not like pasta or rice (unless ordered at the Indian resteraunt or in sushi)... only fish he will eat is sushi...no longer likes tofu or tempeh or miso... he won't eat beans, unless they are refried and in a taco or something like nachos. And there are many more little things he has come to dislike.

So what will he eat???

Since dh and I don't want to pressure him or make a huge issue over this, we decided to let him choose for a week. We brought him grocery shopping and have been letting him choose whatever he wants to eat at mealtime.
We wanted to see if this was just a power struggle, a drive for independence... we also wanted to see what he would eat.... because there were days he was skipping lunch and dinner because he didn't want to eat anything we were having.

Lets see... what I remember so far that he's had

breakfasts he choose:
cornflakes with whole milk
oatmeal w/ maple syrup
toast w/ butter and jam
pancakes and bacon
*and herbal tea w/ honey w/ each breakfast

cheese sandwhich (just bread, mayo, cheese)
nachos- corn chips, refried beans, cheese, green onions
spaghetti w/ butter and parmesan cheese
rice noodles w/ soy sauce and a sheet of nori

toast w/ butter
apple juice
rice milk
banana bread (that I made)
cereal w/ milk
vanilla yogurt

cheese sandwhich
english muffin cheese pizza
bean and cheese taco w/ lettuce
chicken noodle soup (with the carrots and chicken picked out)

As you can see, his main choices are breads and dairy. Almost zero vegetables, very little fruit...

I worry about him getting nutrients he needs. He is a fast growing, tall boy!!
He is very active, as most 4 year olds are...

I also don't want to give him "food issues" by harassing him and harping at him about what to eat, or forcing him to eat foods he doesn't want to.
I also would like to make a meal the whole family can share... not be a short order cook or cater to his very short list of foods he likes.

I do give him supplements: fish oils/DHA, vitamin C, a kids multi, and a green foods supplement.

Anyone else have this experience???
Any advice??
How should we handle his finnicky, picky appetite???
post #2 of 10
It sounds like he's selecting a fairly healthy diet- I see beans and whole grains (plenty of fiber and protein). Since he's also getting the multi and the green supplement, I wouldn't worry. Honestly.

Next month he might eat nothing but peaches and spinach. It all has a way of balancing out.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
I guess I have become concerned because his tastes seem to be going more and more refined...

He used to gobble up vegis with tahini sauce, brown rice, hummus, beans and rice, nuts, fish, stirfries, miso, baked tofu, etc...

A month ago he loved my chicken noodle soup... then a few weeks back he's eat it but would pick out the chicken... now he also picks out the carrots... so he's eating broth and noodles

I was reading cathes article on 8 easy ways to get your kids to eat more vegis... well, I have tried all those tips, except growing vegis w/ him, and none of the ideas worked.
My ds is very keen, you just cannot fool him!

I asked him today what his five favorite foods are. He said:
chocolate (something he rarely ever gets), butter, sour cream, toast, and sushi. That's what he'd eat if he had things his way

Yes, I hope he outgrows this... but it just seems to keep intensifying.
post #4 of 10
Do you make your own sushi? That might be a way to get him to eat more veggies without breaking the bank.

First of all, nori is a vegetable. Secondly, you can put all kinds of veggies in it!
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
We sometimes make sushi rolls. He will only eat the ones we make w/ matchsticked carrots/avo/cucumber... nothing else. But he will eat sushi w/ fish if we go out (which isn't very often).
I have tried making sushi at home for him w/ baked tofu, with crab, smoked salmon, etc... he won't have any of it.
post #6 of 10

My now 3 year old, as recently as 6 months ago would eat nothing but the carrots and chicken (tiny bits) out of my chicken noodle soup (home made). Now, he'll only eat the noodles and a bit of the broth...so /shrug

He would eat 'little trees' broccoli and peas, potato in any form, and now he won't touch them.

He used to have scrambled egg and cheese on 'toasted' wheat bread sandwich for breakfast (home style egg muffin type thing) now he won't touch cheese, on any sandwich. A few days ago, he asked me to make a 'egg cheese sandwich' with 'just eggs'. (So he's rejecting toast now too).

He'll still eat my homemade pizza with cheese and sauce (and pepperoni, which I never used to put on it, but he's asking for it now). The bread is 'sour soaked' and he really seems to enjoy it, but who knows, maybe tomorrow he'll reject it.

I got him to eat some frozen peas a few days ago, then the next day when I tried to put some on his plate, he said they were 'yucky' and he doesn't like them (the day after he gobbled them down...)

He could 'put away' an entire 'petite filet' strip of steak *cut into tiny bite sized pieces* now he won't touch it. He'll eat homemade hamburgers though.

He used to love homemade refried black bean and cheese burittos, with green chili salsa on it, now he will take one bite and 'be done'.

Sometimes he asks for a cookie or ice cream and I've said if you don't eat what's on your plate first (and we're talking a SMALL portion here), then there are no 'treats' or dessert. He shrugs, says he's done eating and goes and sits down and won't eat anything else for the night...

He's healthy otherwise, but he caught his first 'stomach' flu last week and I'm thinking his nutritional 'strike' is what caused him to be susceptible to the 'crud' going around in the city. Other than that, I don't want to pressure him and I've tried hiding stuff, and he can 'smell' or taste off flavors really really easily (I have an over active sense of smell too, and can usually pick out flavors and spices really easily, but I have a broad palate). I just hope he'll get over it soon, as I'm getting frustrated wondering what foods he'll 'like today' and not tomorrow!

Hang in there!
post #7 of 10
I think it's pretty normal for kids to go through stages with narrow tastes (my older DS would live on grilled cheese if I'd have let him when he was around that age).

IME, kids LOVE dipping veggies. It doesn't have to be ranch/sour cream type dips niether. Cream cheese, pureed fruit, peanut butter...whatever works!

Also, my older kids were always more apt to try new things and eat something that THEY helped prepare.

Good luck!
post #8 of 10
I have found that with my ds, the more I try to convince him to eat something, the less likely he is to eat it. He also eats something one day and then insists he doesn't like it the next. The things that work for us (different strategies work at different times - we adjust based on mood):

Play a game where we tell him (in a playful, mock-stern voice) "Whatever you do, DO NOT eat that chicken!". He promptly eats it and we tease him about not listening to what we say. (He is 5 - old enough to know when we are serious about telling him not to do something - he know this is "play".) This usually works very well. After he has taken a few bites this way he usually happily eats the rest.

If I serve him something I *know* he has liked in the past and he just doesn't want to eat it, and he is not in the mood to play the game, I let him choose not to eat, with the understanding that there will be no other food served until the next meal time. In my opinion, he is healthy and is old enough to have some consequences for his choices. We eat together as a family and I cook *one* meal. The only exceptions are if I cook something that I know he consistently doesn't like (meaning he has *never* liked it), then I will make sure to include something extra for him or I will feed ds and dd then dh and I will eat after they go to bed. I still offer the foods to him that he has never liked and occasionally he will taste it.

I try to make food and meal-times fun. We eat "little trees", "snow trees" (cauliflower), Super Power Breakfast (a crockpot multi-grain breakfast), etc.

We talk alot about nutrition and good food choices aside from meal times. We talk about what is healthy and what is not and why.

I refuse to make food and meal-time a struggle. I acknowledge that he has sole control over what he chooses to eat. I make an effort to serve nutritious, good food and he can choose to eat it or not. I don't make a big deal over it or force him to eat anything. Very rarely now does he choose not to eat. He may not eat much at some meals, but that is okay.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Alkenny

IME, kids LOVE dipping veggies. It doesn't have to be ranch/sour cream type dips niether. Cream cheese, pureed fruit, peanut butter...whatever works!

Also, my older kids were always more apt to try new things and eat something that THEY helped prepare.

Good luck!

I wish my ds would fall for the dipping trick... he used to love dipping carrots and celery in vegi dips, guacamole, hummus, tahini, etc... now he refuses.

He won't eat guacamole, tahini, or hummus anymore. If given a sourcream-based dip, he'd prefer to just eat the dip w/ nothing else

I do have him help make meals sometimes. He loves helping, but it doesn't entice him to eat anything he has decided he doesn't like.

Tonight he asked for noodles. So I made him Pad Thai rice noodles, something he usually likes. He took 2 bites and said he didn't want anymore.
Then an hour later he asked for a cheese sandwhich. I gave in and made him one. He took about 2 or 3 bites and said he was finished :
I just said fine, but that is all he is having for tonight. He doesn't seem to mind.

Very Frustrating!!!

I wish he'd eat more protien options. He won't eat meat, fish, beans (unless refried beans), eggs, tofu, tempeh... just cheese, milk, and yogurt. And actually he isn't a huge cheese lover.
post #10 of 10
I agree with most of what's been said - he'll grow out of it. Kids learn more from example than anything - if he sees you enjoying veggies and not caring if he eats them, chances are he will want them too (eventually) - my almost 4 year old just started liking kale and my older daughter suddenly started eating it at 5 (just chopped in stir-fries or in soup where before I had to mince it).

One thing I noticed is that most of his breakfast choices aren't too high in protein which is very important in the morning - perhaps you could grind some nuts/seeds and stir into his oatmeal or perhaps serve yogurt or cottage cheese with the toast or oatmeal. Maybe he'd eat peanut or almond butter on his toast. I take it he doesn't like eggs . . .

Lunch and dinners look good - would he eat some carrot sticks, apple slices, orange sections, etc. to get some raw foods into him?

Also - I don't know if you have already tried this but it really works with my kids - is that I tell them how certain foods will directly benefit them. For example, I tell them that protein will help them to grow tall and strong - they know that have to eat protein in the morning but I let them pick which protein food - yogurt, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, eggs, etc. Same with fruits and veggies - I tell them the vitamins will keep them from getting sick and will help their owies to heal, calcium foods to make their teeth strong, etc. That way they are not eating the foods for me but for themselves.
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