Picky eaters....sigh - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-06-2011, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
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My boys + dinnertime = exhausting and frustrating.  I don't mind breakfast (usually steel cut oats with berries, flax and plain yoghurt every morning), lunch (PB sandwich, apples/fruit, or cheese and crackers, carrot muffins, nuts, dried fruit etc snacky type foods) but dinner I just cringe.  When I get ambitious and go to the trouble of making something homemade and generally "healthy" they turn up their noses.  I can get lucky with homemade cheese pizza, salmon cakes, cheese pasta, sometimes salmon and rice.  All the rest it's just no they won't touch it (mostly the older one 3 1/2, the 2 year old is a bit better).  Often for veggies I have to hide them somehow and our ' go to' veggie smoothie (kale/spinach, frozen berries, avocado, banana, yoghurt, OJ, flax).  But I can't feed them smoothies forever.  I try yummy roasted potatoes with rosemary and he'll actually gag.  His preferences are so slim....just like his dad.  Grrrr.  To be honest, his dad is no better.  He's a meat and rice guy and wants to eat that daily while I barely eat meat.  I feel like dinner time is just hopeless right now.  Tears and resentment.  I want us all to sit together too at meal time and it turns into a big drama, half the time dad won't even sit with us despite my protesting.  Please help any ideas that work for you and your picky little ones?  Tonight we made spinach/parmesan baked tidbits, baked beans and soba noodles with shredded carrots and tamari dressing. the younger one ate the beans, the older one sobbed when he saw dinner.  I really like Cookus Interruptus but not having a whole lot of luck with these recipes and the little guys.  


These are the limited homemade items usually work for us:

salmon cakes 

cheese on spelt pizza

"green" smoothies

Annies (!!  He'd live off that 24/ 7 if he could)

kale chips

salmon with rice

roasted butternut squash


Please help!  Grateful for any tips, recipes, ideas!! 


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#2 of 10 Old 05-07-2011, 01:12 AM
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I definitely must recommend "Child of Mine" by Ellyn Satter. It was recommended to me by a dear friend who is a nutritionist and midwife and has taken a lot of the stress out of feeding my kids. Like any book, eat the fish and spit out the bones - you may not jive with 100% of it but it's really good and her resources and research are referenced in many different countries in regards to feeding children/families. 

We live in a developing country right now so our options are much more limited (food-wise) than they were in the states but we're making it work and this book really helped take the anxiety and frustration out of meal times - which has been a huge blessing since making anything takes a lot longer here. 

Good luck to you! 

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#3 of 10 Old 05-07-2011, 09:00 AM
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No advice but I'm here with you!  My DS is the epitome of picky eaters.  The words "I don't like chocolate chip cookies" has actually passed his lips.  You are doing far better than me if you can get yours to drink a smoothie.  If a fruit or veggie is anywhere near 10 feet of my DS he runs.  This is except avocados and bananas which I liberally feed to him. 


Thank you pp for the book rec.  I ordered it through my library. 

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#4 of 10 Old 05-10-2011, 09:40 AM
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I have a somehow picky eater, but maybe slightly easier than yours. I would say that probably the kids are very influenced if dad refuses to eat something. I have friends with most picky eaters at home. One time we invited them for dinner and I noticed that their parents and especially dad are even pickier! I don't know how you can solve the issue, maybe try to talk to dad and come to some agreement or at least have him not to make negative comments about the food when children are present??

What I do now is to focus on child friendly simple recipes, just using the best ingredients possible. I would do sweet potato fries or homemade pizza with lots of veggies hidden under the cheese, mexican dishes are usually easy to feed as well, potato-veggie latkes, eggs. I limit the more fancy recipes to ones or twice a week. I figure I will have the chance to do them, when the kids are older.

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#5 of 10 Old 05-10-2011, 05:45 PM
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Definitely read the Elllyn Satter book.  And, honestly, there were a few points early into it where I was having the "WHAA????  bigeyes.gif  headscratch.gif" reaction.  Keep reading, and it will come together and make more sense. 

The hardest thing for me to get over, really, was the "Clean Your Plate" mentality.  It's a relief, once you read her books, to realize that if we relax and provide good options, our kids will eventually come 'round. 

I used to work for Cooperative Extension as a Family/Consumer Sciences specialist.  We recommended this book to all the parents who were worrying about childhood nutrition and about picky eaters.  It's very well-researched and respected. 

My eldest is not a picky eater.  She's adventurous, and literally told the Ped at her three year appointment that her favorite vegetable is eggplant
orngbiggrin.gif  She'll eat almost anything (or at least, try almost anything) - except french fries!  Not a bad thing in the end, I haven't worked really hard to try to convince her that french fries are awesome.  wink1.gif 

Our youngest, though, is picky.  It's tough.  It's frustrating.  She's on multivitamins to hopefully make up the difference, and I work to incorporate as many healthy, fiber-and-nutrient-rich foods as possible into her diet.  But it's difficult.  I think she comes by it naturally (dh is a very picky eater).  However, we have gradually made progress.  She is eating a few more foods this year than last year.  She brags that broccoli is her favorite food, and requests raw broccoli every time we have raw veggies.  She's only nibbled a bit of it, but she wants it every time.  That's a first step - she'll get there.  She told me one day, "Mom, when I'm your age, I'll eat that," when I was trying to convince her to try some vegetable.  (This is another reassurance that Satter offers - that kids who see their parents eating a wide variety of healthy foods are more likely to grow up and eat a wide variety of healthy foods, even if they are 'picky' as kids.) 

You need to get your dh on board.  My dh fakes it sometimes.  It helps that I've faked it too (I loathe mushrooms, both girls say they like them, and dd1 actually does like them, as does dh - so I make them, and eat them, because it's something dd2 is enthusiastic about).  Dh knows that it's not healthy for him to have such a limited diet, and he works on it, and doesn't want the girls growing up with a similarly limited diet.  Talking with our Ped, I suspect that dh would have benefited a great deal as a kid from an OT referral to work on sensory issues with foods - his complaints are never about the flavors of foods, but about the textures instead.  For instance, he loves the scent of onions cooking, he loves the flavor of onions - he loathes the feel of cooked onions in his mouth. 

It is still difficult for me to make a meal that I know dh and dd2 aren't going to want to eat.  Dh will choke it down, but dd2 won't and it seems wasteful.  But she's not going to expand her horizons and try new foods unless she sees new foods.  I can't cater just to the things she eats.  Dd1 was allergic to legumes as an infant, dh doesn't like dry beans, so we hadn't really eaten them even though dd1 outgrew her allergy.  This winter, she had chili for the first time and LOVES it.  So, I have been making batches of chili and freezing portions so she and I can have chili at meal times.  Dd2 was terribly curious about the beans, and demanded to try them (!!) - she eats a bean or two every time I make beans for chili, tells me they are delicious and taste like potatoes.  She won't eat the chili because of the "vegetables" in it.  But we'll get there .... as a toddler, she loved stewed tomatoes as a vegetable.  Then suddenly decided she didn't like cooked tomatoes (or any tomatoes), to the extent that a couple months ago she began refusing marinara sauce, which used to be a go-to favorite of hers.  Then, last week, while I was making chili, she asked me to heat up some tomatoes for her to have as her vegetable that day (?!).  And she ate about half a can of tomatoes! 

Long story short -read the book.  Patience.  There's light at the end of the tunnel, really there is.  Patience. 


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#6 of 10 Old 05-10-2011, 11:03 PM
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I have two normal eaters and one picky eater, and by picky I mean he eats no more than 20 foods.  Total.  And that number has gone down as he's gotten older.  I go through periods where I stress about it, and wonder if I'm damaging ds forever because I'm not forcing him to eat or even try different foods.  However, throughout it all I have maintained my position, which is as long as ds is getting enough fruits, vegetables and proteins, he will be okay.  Even if those fruits, vegetables, and proteins come from an extremely limited palate.  Ds eats oatmeal with raspberries every.single.day.  Lunch is usually cheese quesadillas, PB&J, or a smoothie.  Sometimes Annie's mac & cheese.  Dinner is either cheese cubes or a handful of almonds, plus a raw vegetable (he'll eat a few different ones).  Every. single. day.  That's it, and that's how it's been ever since he started eating solid food.  Ds is healthier than anyone I know - he hasn't even gotten a cold in years - so his limited diet is working for him.  Somehow. 


I say don't stress about your kids' lack of dinner appetite.  Make what you and your dh want to eat, but also serve something easy you know the kids will eat (e.g., carrot sticks and nuts in our house - no prep!).  Of course don't make it seem like those things are just for the picky eater; in our house, everyone eats the carrot sticks and nuts I set out each night. 

~ Meredith, mom to dd(Jan '02), ds1(May '04) and ds2 (June '07) ~ :
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#7 of 10 Old 05-12-2011, 07:26 PM
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Another mum of picky eaters. Both of mine. But I was also one as a child and now I love lots of different foods. I remember it all started to change around adolescence and took until in my mid-twenties before I ate pretty much anything.


The list of foods DD will eat are very short indeed. She eats no vegetables at all except corn-on-the-cob (I do put pureed sweet potatoes in her pancakes and waffles). The only fruit she reliably eats are bananas, though on occasion she will eat some grapes or an apple. She doesn't even like jam. No berries, no citrus. Protein is better, though all things (tofu, chicken, pork) have to be prepared in a very specific way. She also eats cheese, drinks lots of milk, and loves yogurt (though only sweetened, so I try to keep this to a minimum). She will not eat rice or pasta or potatoes in any form (and that includes french fries). She will not eat any kind of soup or smoothie. She loves white bread and baked goods, but we try to keep that to a minimum. 


Anyways, I have BTDT with respect to the stress, the worry about health, the frustration of having to make 2 or 3 separate meals each time, etc. I've recently come to a place of acceptance about this, which you can read all about in my blog post here. HTH!

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#8 of 10 Old 05-12-2011, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow!  Thank you for all of the great replies and tips.  I will definitely check out that book.  And I know I need to relax about the dinnertime - I need to remind myself that there are bigger things to get worked up about (or maybe I should rephrase that ad in - is anything worth getting worked up about?) But in the moment at the end of a long day it can be tough.  Gentle reminders.  Thanks again...!

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#9 of 10 Old 05-17-2011, 09:47 AM
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As a former picky eater my Mom has been very understanding with my just not pushing my picky kids to eat foods they do not like.What I do is have big person tasting nights four nights a month.The little kids get a little kid food they like and everyone else gets foods the little ones go yuck at(hint my older kids wanted to try some of the big people foods as they got older, mind you we told them their taste buds grow into new foods as they get older.)My kids have all had issues with hateing bitter when little.


Big people meal nights give me nights where I get to be free to make whatever I want and know thelittle one get their own so are not allowed to say yuck to what I want to cook.We get laughs(to ourselves after the kids are asleep when middle kids try to eat things they really do not like to try to act like they are ready to get a big kid privledge-we do not use food that way but the kids have tried to convince each other that) 


My kids have food allergies as well so we put anything for guests that includes things my kids can not eat in blue containers(glases, dishes,and plasticware) so big person meals with friends over sometimes include foods our kids can not eat. 

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#10 of 10 Old 07-21-2011, 05:58 PM
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My little guy is 13mos and so far has been a great eater but is now starting to be more "selective" shall we say with what stays in his mouth. We eat a ton of greens in our household but my LO has decided that those will be last on his list. My new saving grace to get him to eat more veggies is mashed black beans with avocado and cheese, and to cook down whatever veggie we are having till super soft and then mash it into the mix. This meal is his favorite and really you can hide just about anything in this concoction. For an older toddler, perhaps make it into a quesadilla?  This has also worked well with mashed potatoes. 

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