Picky preschoolers: Disguise healthy food or keep offering rejected ones - WWYD? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 08-15-2011, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When my twin girls were just starting to try foods I read the book "Child of Mine" and loved it.  I bought into the mantra that it was a parent's responsibility to offer healthy, balanced meals, and the child's responsibility to decide whether to eat and how much.  That was then.  My girls' eating habits have gone downhill since then, and coming from a family of hearty, healthy eaters, it's very hard to me to decide what to do about it.

 

The girls are 3 1/2.  They agree against milk of any kind (we have tried everything, offered, offered, offered, peer pressure, cool cups, sitting down as a family).  They will have milk in smoothies, frozen yogurt, or ice cream, but not liquid.  Also, no meat of any kind, with the very occasional exception of a bite of an adult's meat lasagna, bacon, hot dog.  Eggs are hit and miss.  Tofu has been totally rejected.

 

One twin will eat dairy - loves yogurt and cottage cheese.  She's the ever so slightly more adventurous eater who ate some lasagna, once.

 

Both will eat veggies and fruit with some regularity; I am happy with that.

 

Rice and cheese are out of their diets because of ongoing constipation problems.

 

So, here are our main foods:

 

peanut and jelly sandwiches

fruit and veg

Edamame

They will sometimes eat beans - limas, black, etc.

bread, crackers, sometimes pasta, sometimes french fries

clif bars

 

I'm bored and frustrated with their diet.  We sit down and eat as a family, and they see my DH and I eating fish, poultry, meat, cooking, leafy greens, all sorts of things they wouldn't touch.  We offer frequently off our plates.  Sometimes they tell us they'll eat that as a teenager, sometimes when they are a mommy.

 

I'm OK with offering as balanced a meal as I can and leave it up to them.  But there are two problems: first, terrible elimination issues.  We're dealing with this as well as we can with Miralax (last resort, we tried everything natural we could first.)  But I can't help but think this is related to diet.  And of course the "adventurous" eater has fewer BM issues. 

 

My much bigger worry: the twins are identical; they share the exact same DNA as monozygotic twins.  And the twin that eats protein (by way of yogurt and cottage cheese, eaten with gusto), she is significantly bigger than her sister.  Has been since before birth.  Now she's probably 2 inches taller and several pounds heavier.  Strangers with a good eye aren't sure if they're even twins.  The "big" twin looks a lot like me at her age.  My littler one looks like a pixie / changeling version of her sister.

 

My mom successfully got my little one to eat cottage cheese pancakes.  It got me thinking that maybe I should work on disguising protein and calcium rich foods for the girls.  As much as it galls me, maybe get some protein powder for drinks, or protein bars.  It kills me not to give the girls more natural, healthy foods.  But my policy of waiting for acceptance is leading to a stunted kid.

 

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#2 of 18 Old 08-15-2011, 04:37 PM
 
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The first thing I would do is get both kids tested for food allergies or other digestive issues. My oldest has always been a picky eater, and she just got diagnosed with multiple food allergies and celiacs. She was small for her age, complained often of a stomach ache andthe pediatrician never suggested any kind of testing, until I demanded it when she was 8. And dd was NOT choosing to avoid foods that made her sick, she was eating a lot of them! However, now that she has had testing, she will avoid things so that she feels better, but she did not intuitively know what was good and what wasn't without the testing. So my belief that she would naturally choose what she needed went down the tubes.

I had turned to the Sneaky Chef cookbook already, and I think it's great. I would offer healthy foods like broccoli at meals too, but there were nutrition boosters in many foods too. it has gotten harder lately though, as I am trying to figure out not eating gluten.

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#3 of 18 Old 08-15-2011, 11:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OTMomma View Post

The first thing I would do is get both kids tested for food allergies or other digestive issues. My oldest has always been a picky eater, and she just got diagnosed with multiple food allergies and celiacs. She was small for her age, complained often of a stomach ache andthe pediatrician never suggested any kind of testing, until I demanded it when she was 8. And dd was NOT choosing to avoid foods that made her sick, she was eating a lot of them! However, now that she has had testing, she will avoid things so that she feels better, but she did not intuitively know what was good and what wasn't without the testing. So my belief that she would naturally choose what she needed went down the tubes.

I had turned to the Sneaky Chef cookbook already, and I think it's great. I would offer healthy foods like broccoli at meals too, but there were nutrition boosters in many foods too. it has gotten harder lately though, as I am trying to figure out not eating gluten.

Peace,

I think this is a good idea.  My friends daughter was having issues with blotches on her skin.  The pediatricians all tried to put her on steroids and antibiotics without doing any testing.  Then she went to a naturopath, Turns out it was a dairy allergy(her DD loved dairy so she wasnt avoiding what she was allergic to either)!  Anyway, yes I would get them tested. 

I would NOT hesitate to hide healthy things in their foods.  I would also give them probiotics, which maybe you tried when you were trying to fix their BM issues, but I think it would be a good idea for a daily thing.  Maybe also a vitamin supplement?  Here is a good one http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Life-Vitamin-Chewable-Bears/dp/B003TTZWZ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313474002&sr=8-1   I also get their probiotics from vitacost.com or here http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Life-Probiotics-Kids-3-4-Ounce/dp/B004H9O4VG/ref=pd_sbs_hpc_1   They are organic so no filler ingredients to cause problems.  I make my own applesauce which DD highly prefers and I mix in the probiotic powder with that, or you could mix it into their smoothies after you finish making them in the blender.

I also make prunes part of DDs daily diet(she loves them), which I am sure you already tried, but it would not hurt to just include them daily to help and they are healthy as well.  I would guess that their diet is contributing to their BM problems.  Also making sure they are drinking enough water.  Since they will drink smoothies I would use that as a way to give them yogurt, some ground flax, and some raw milk(goats milk is higher in calcium and protein than cows), I have noticed that raw milk REALLY helps with regulating the GI tract and encouraging healthy BMs.

You say they will eat fruits and veggies so that is excellent, try making sure they are getting a variety, and that you mostly stick to organic.

 

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#4 of 18 Old 08-15-2011, 11:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Gena 22 View Post

 

So, here are our main foods:

 

peanut and jelly sandwiches

fruit and veg

Edamame

They will sometimes eat beans - limas, black, etc.

bread, crackers, sometimes pasta, sometimes french fries

clif bars



I'd leave them alone. Their diets sound fine. (Maybe see if they'll eat lara bars rather than clif bars.) I don't think milk is actually healthy. Almond milk or coconut milk would probably be better. And meat is so NOT healthy. Be glad they're not eating it. (Protein is so over rated in this country.)

 

If the one twin was bigger than the other before birth I'd see if they had twin-to-twin transfusions. (Could actually be significant for one or both of them.)

 

My daughter turned 3 last week. It seemed like her entire age 2 she ate nothing but fruit and would randomly grace us by sharing our dinner. She is growing, active, curious. 

 

You could offer them smoothies every morning. You can hide lots of stuff in smoothies--even spinach ("Look, green polka dots.") Also nuts, almond butter, raw egg, other veggies. I put in a bit of coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk in each smoothie.

 

I would stop offering food from your plates. It sounds like you may be pushing them too much. When our son declines food I tell him, "Ok. You'll like it when you're older."

 

They will eventually eat more if they see you eat it. Our daughter needs to be gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free. I make most of our foods from scratch. Our son would not eat the mung bean tortillas or the almond bread. So we left him alone. Then one day he had a bit of my husband's cheese crisp. He LOVES the tortillas now. Same with the almond butter. On his schedule he tried it. 

 

If constipation is an issue I'd keep away from bananas and papayas.

 

Your choice to let your kids choose their own foods is not causing one of them to be stunted. Children DO NOT STARVE THEMSELVES. Whatever is going on was there prenatally and should be explored that way. They eat fruits, veggies, beans, peanut butter. They are fine.


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#5 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 12:26 AM
 
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I wonder if the dairy thing is a texture issue.  I cannot drink straight milk b/c the texture just makes me feel sick.  Same for yogurt.  There's just a certain mouth feel (is that the right word?)  to some foods that can make people hate them.


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#6 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, ladies.  Those are some good thoughts.

 

Dried prunes are delicious, and we all eat them pretty often, nearly daily.  Will try to work with the good things they eat and make their food more fun.  Got to get back to incorporating probiotics.  We had tried and not seen any positive effect, but need to go back to including probiotics in their diet.  That and flax seed.  Goat's milk smoothies?  Lara bars, cool, will look into those.  Will consider the allergy idea.  Our little one does have a rash she just can't seem to shake, up her arm in a line.  Her pedi wasn't worried, and said it was common, but that was more than 6 months ago and might bear more investegation.

 

You're so right, Sunday Crepes.  The girls were on the verge of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, sometimes defined as a 20% difference in weight.  My girls we born 15% different.  I thought my little one would catch up to her sister, but no.  They both have perfect growth curves, but have never quite converged.  Guess I have to take a deep breath and just let them be who they are.  Which I could do more easily if they we're "identical," guess that's why a lot of people don't like that term and prefer monozygotic.  It's mindblowing to me the differences in-utero environment can make.  On personality, preferences and even body type.  Much more than I thought.

 

OK, I'm going to accept that it's a good thing that they wouldn't touch chicken nuggets with a ten foot pole.  And have more fun with the fruits, veg, legumes and seedy breads they do eat.  They are not starving.  I'll keep reminding myself that.

 

Thanks ladies!


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#7 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 11:37 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post

And meat is so NOT healthy. Be glad they're not eating it. (Protein is so over rated in this country.)

...

Your choice to let your kids choose their own foods is not causing one of them to be stunted. Children DO NOT STARVE THEMSELVES. Whatever is going on was there prenatally and should be explored that way. They eat fruits, veggies, beans, peanut butter. They are fine.


So it is definitely true that higher protein intakes result in a larger body size.  This is clear when you look at, e.g., veg vs. non-veg populations in India.  Also see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14985227

 

Up to you whether you consider this an adverse health outcome or not, but there it is.

 

Too much protein is not a good thing, but too little is also not a good thing, especially for a growing child.  The body is made of protein (meat).  Biochemically there is no way to turn a carbohydrate or fat into a protein.  All of the protein you need to build and run your body needs to be eaten as such.  If children do not eat enough protein, their growth will be stunted (and in extreme cases they can develop kwashiorkor, although this doesn't usually happen in the developed world).

People in the US tend to have the opposite problem of overeating fatty meats, which obviously is not good either, but it doesn't mean that insufficient protein intake is somehow not a problem.

 

Maybe your children do not starve themselves but many picky children (and adults) will choose suboptimal diets (and several posters on this thread have pointed out that their children don't necessarily know instinctively which foods are harmful to them).

 

In terms of the OP's issue, the fact that both children's growth curves are OK is reassuring; but on balance, if these were my kids I probably would be trying to sneak in healthy protein sources.  Peanut butter and edamame are both good protein sources, although it's not clear how much of them the children (esp the smaller one) are eating.  Rule of thumb, the recommended protein intake for a toddler can be fulfilled by 2 cups of milk + one egg per day.  I don't know what this translates into in edamame-and-peanut-butter terms but I could imagine it might be a lot.

 

The cottage cheese pancakes are a great idea, if the smaller one will eat them I'd make them a regular thing.  We try to go heavy on the egg when we make pancakes also.  Eggs can be successfully hidden in lots of things - my toddler loves vegetable pie/quiche so I make that a lot.  Also nuts, I make some veggie dishes where I pulverize a handful of cashews or almonds and add them to the sauce/curry.  Personally I'm not a fan of highly processed food so would skip the protein powder, but if the kids will drink smoothies I'd definitely be serving them daily and trying to hide dairy and nut butters in there (or maybe some tofu if you're into that).  That would also be a way to increase their liquid intake which should help with the constipation (and you could put the flax or some papaya in those as well).

 

Btw if you are trying to get them off the Miralax don't do it cold turkey - when you take it on a regular basis your body adjusts and then abrupt discontinuation gives you bad rebound constipation, causing you to go right back on the Miralax.  It needs a slow wean.

 

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#8 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 12:12 PM
 
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Some kinds of 'disguising' I don't have a problem with- like cottage cheese pancakes, tofu/nut butter in a smoothie, vegetables in popsicles, for instance. DS has never been a veggie lover, so I hide some in other places- carrot muffins, zucchini pancakes, etc. Really, cottage cheese pancakes aren't unnatural. As for the milk, my LO loves strawberry milk- just a cup of milk blended with 2 or 3 frozen (or fresh) strawberries- I do the same with yogurt, too, like mango yogurt. You can make a sauce of blueberries, strawberries, or other fruit by cooking it in a little water for some sweetener (optional) for a while and then blending it. It keep for around a week in a jar and LO loves it in yogurt it the morning, or a spoonful in some milk. If they like beans you can try beans+whole grain meals, like black beans in rice, red beans and rice (lo's favorite, with stewed tomatoes and sausage), stir fry on brown rice with peanuts on top, split pea soup (or other soup with beans) and whole grain bread- there are a lot of options out there besides animal proteins, so don't despair! LO also likes warm milk on colder days, with cinnamon and honey, or with a spoonful of tahini. I am also trying not to stress about LO's diet, as I think it's rubbing off on him and pushing him further away! It is a hard thing not to stress about sometimes :) Good luck mama!

 

 

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#9 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 12:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View PostChildren DO NOT STARVE THEMSELVES.


Healthy, neurotypical children do not starve themselves. But please don't make a blanket statement about all children. My son would choose to starve himself before eating about a million different foods (and has been hospitalized because of dehydration when he refused to even let a drop of water touch his lips, let alone any food).


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#10 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 12:56 PM
 
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If disguising foods works for your children, OP, then feel free to do it! I had tried it in the past, but it has always backfired on me. My ds (who has autism and sensory issues) could tell each and every time when I tried to hide veggies/protein in the foods he ate. Unfortunately, he would "drop" those foods (stop eating them). Some of them still have never been added back into his diet- 6 or 7 years after he dropped them. For instance- he used to eat spaghetti with meat sauce. When he was 1 he suddenly wouldn't eat the meat anymore (but would eat the spaghetti with plain tomato sauce with no meat). I tried to out-smart him and pureed the meat to a pulp then mixed it in the sauce. He figured it out after 1 bite and refused to eat any more. He's almost 8 and has never touched spaghetti since then. So I, personally, would approach this carefully. But if you try it and it works- go for it! I wish I could sneak extra nutrition into his diet, but I can't. He does see a feeding therapist (and has on and off for the last 4 years) and has made some progress thumb.gif  One thing the therapist taught us was to NOT try and sneak foods into his diet. She reassured me that it's my job to offer the foods, it's ds's job to eat them. Once we stopped pressuring him to eat what we wanted him to, he slowly started eating new foods. For example- he used to eat plain applesauce. We started offering pear applesauce and, after probably 20 offers, he finally took a bite- and liked it! About 6 months after he started eating the pear applesauce we started offering strawberry banana applesauce. After about 5 offers he did try a tiny bit (and liked it). It's a terribly slow process we use with his therapist, but we've seen more success with this than we did with trying to force him to eat.


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#11 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 02:53 PM
 
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I agree that a lot of meat is not healthy, but if you get organic grass fed meat I think it is just fine.  I think that a person can do just fine on a vegetarian diet or even a vegan diet but they have to be concious of what they are eating.  There are other sources of protein such as beans, nuts, etc, but keep in mind that these are not "complete" protiens.  They only contain SOME of the amino acids that make up a complete protien that is in the human body, and that the human body needs.  The only source of a COMPLETE protein is animal products.  If you vary your non-animal proteins, then you can get all 7 amino acids, but for example if your only major source of protein was peanut products then you would seriously be lacking. 

I agree with the texture thing too- some people are "tasters" and some people are more about texture when it comes to choosing foods.  You can get them tested to see which one they are too, but I wouldnt bother honestly.  I would also make sure that the pastas, crackers and breads that they are eating are whole grain:)

I forgot to mention raw nuts and seeds, they are very good for you!  Raw sunflower seeds are one of DDs favorites and they are very nutrient dense.  Here is their nutrient analysis http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=127  , I love this site for telling me about foods and their nutrient content, etc.  If you are in the delivery area of this company www.azurestandard.com (contact their customer service) they sell raw organic(and non-organic) nuts and seeds at awesome prices, as well as fresh fruits and veggies, dried goods, yogurt, raw milk and regular cheese, etc.  They sell meat, butter, eggs, etc too but I think they are overpriced, but it just depends on who's buying I guess!

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#12 of 18 Old 08-16-2011, 08:18 PM
 
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mambera said it very well. I do disagree with many on the definition of good protein sources however - if you look at the label on pb you will find that it is more of a source of fat than it is of protein - same goes with nuts. Not that that is in itself a bad thing but it's something to remember when using it as a primary protein source.

 

I have a hard time with the whole concept of instinctual eating because we live in a culture where soooooo many foods that are not good for us but feel good to eat are easily available. I would choose cake over veggies/meat every single time & as a result I would feel worse & worse & worse. I would have been the same as a child.

 

OP - do you make a separate meal for the girls than for yourselves? I don't know if I've been blessed with an incredibly unpicky eater or we've just set good habits but this is how we have always approached food with him. We make a meal, we serve it, we put it away. We pay ZERO attention to how much is eaten or what (ok, I do observe it but I never comment on it). Some meals he eats a lot, other meals he barely touches but it balances out at the end of the day. We have found some things he really doesn't seem to like (yogurt for one) but we still continue to offer those things with no pressure.


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Quote:

Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post

mambera said it very well. I do disagree with many on the definition of good protein sources however - if you look at the label on pb you will find that it is more of a source of fat than it is of protein - same goes with nuts. Not that that is in itself a bad thing but it's something to remember when using it as a primary protein source.

 

I have a hard time with the whole concept of instinctual eating because we live in a culture where soooooo many foods that are not good for us but feel good to eat are easily available. I would choose cake over veggies/meat every single time & as a result I would feel worse & worse & worse. I would have been the same as a child.

 

OP - do you make a separate meal for the girls than for yourselves? I don't know if I've been blessed with an incredibly unpicky eater or we've just set good habits but this is how we have always approached food with him. We make a meal, we serve it, we put it away. We pay ZERO attention to how much is eaten or what (ok, I do observe it but I never comment on it). Some meals he eats a lot, other meals he barely touches but it balances out at the end of the day. We have found some things he really doesn't seem to like (yogurt for one) but we still continue to offer those things with no pressure.

Also remember that the fats in nuts is different than the fats in say meats.  The fats in nuts are unsaturated fats, "good" fats, and we all need good fats.  Please read this article for more info, it is very informative!!  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=117   I think mambera said what she said very well too.  And I also have a problem with the concept of instinctual eating because I myself would choose ice cream over veggies any time, and so would just about everyone I know. 
 

 

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#14 of 18 Old 08-17-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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I would do both, hide good foods in the form of stuff they like and also keep offering foods in their whole form.

I would rock the smoothies. Also theres this nut butter pancake--egg, nut butter, a piece of optional squash, blend and fry like a pancake. Egg custards or tofu cheesecake. Maybe hide meat in broths or dip?

I would eliminate the snacky crackery type stuff that often binds up the bowels anyway, and alsomay be filling them up so they arent hungry for their dinner. Ditto with sweets; I really believe sugar changes a childs ability to even know if they are hungry.

I am not one to prepare a kid meal and a grownup meal, no way. Honestly, I would make each a plate of whatever you and dp are having, literally a tablesppon of each food on their plates, serve it up and makeNO COMMENT on whether it is accepted or refused. Later, offer a healthy, nutrient dense snack, or a little leftover smoothie, but dont feed into any whining about being hungry.

Also, since they eat veggies well, how about focusing on relatively high protein and calcium vegetable? I am thinking of the green leafies and broccoli and such.

Google dad's sneaky pudding recipe, too.

Also, Try to really pack the calories into the foods they will accept, like coconut milk in the smoothies, extra oil/fat for the veggies, encourage avocado dips or snack on olives (eating olives off your fingers is fun!). Avocado and spinach in the smoothi or peanut butter/banana/heavy cream, you can blend silken tofu into smoothies, too. Gravy gravy gravy. Hide eggs in stuff in the form of batter for veggies or in baked goods along with calorie rich nuts.

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#15 of 18 Old 08-19-2011, 11:08 AM
 
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cheeseslave, I think or was it nourished kitchen? Look on those two blogs, one had a great ricotta or cream cheese pancake recipe (smoother than cottage cheese) they might also have the nut butter pancake recipe too...I still have yet to try it, but it looks good.

 

And Yeah, sub a little in recipes. Add some nut, seed, or bean flour in place of regular flour. Add an extra egg (or choose recipes that have lots of eggs.)

 

For 'treats' make homemade, low sugar coconut macaroons, eggs and coconut, yum.

 

As for bm, what works for me as an adult to stay regular is magnesium supplements. Maybe the gals are low on magnesium? BUt I don't know if they make a powder/liquid, or just pills...something to consider.

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#16 of 18 Old 08-19-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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Also food sources of magnesium would be more bioavailable and not be as contaminated as supps especially if the supps are not organic whole foods based.  I love and so does DD raw sunflower seeds:)

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#17 of 18 Old 08-20-2011, 09:57 AM
 
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It sounds like they are rejecting a lot of processed foods and leaning towards whole foods. I won't eat tofu or hot dogs either. I think milk is weird (though I do love dairy products).

 

With the fruits, veggies, seeded breads, and legumes, they kind of have a European vegetarian diet, which is very healthy! I'd avoid processed Luna bars. I do give my kids Lara bars, since they are just dried fruit and nuts. My kids like 4 of the flavors, but there are close to 20 of them to choose from.

 

If they like beans, do they like hummus? bean dip? Play with the foods they like and don't make a big deal out of it.

 

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#18 of 18 Old 08-21-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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we "hide" and offer.  ds actually eats great.  But we have started adding pureed veggies to tomato sauce and now everyone prefers it that way (onion, carrot, roasted red pepper etc).  Same with mac and cheese, we usually add a puree of onion, carrot and butternut squash to our bechmael sauce and now everyone likes it that way.  Cottage cheese pancakes are just pancakes, so if they like them, awesome.  We usually do an extra egg and yogurt in our pancakes (when we don't have to make them vegan). ds often helps cook so he *knows* that stuff is going into the food, so its not soooooo "sneaky."  but we still offer things that he has rejected in the past.  now he'll tell me "i don't like onions.  well I only like them pureed"  Most of his dislikes are texture based (he has a really hard time with onions, peppers, greens etc when they are cooked)

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