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

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#1 of 47 Old 01-08-2012, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD recently turned five and she hasn't eaten vegetables, excepting yams and cherry tomatoes, in about 3 years. That alone makes me feel guilty, but the bigger issue is that I am beyond conflicted with what are the best ways to handle food issues. The list of foods that she will eat is pretty short and I just always assumed the picky toddler phase would not last. Clearly, I was wrong. Part of the problem is that I grew up in a house where I was forced to eat everything on my plate whether I liked it or not. I really think this caused me to have a terrible relationship with food and it is something I still struggle with, and I am hyper-aware and fearful about passing this onto my DD. I feel ridiculous saying this, but I just haven't come up with anything that I feel like works. I don't want to force her to eat everything on her plate, but I don't want to give her unlimited access, either. I don't know if I should have a rule that she has to have x amount of bites of something- that seems like it could backfire- or just be totally fine that she will always choose the least nutritious thing on her plate to eat. Do I always make a meal that I know she will eat or do I make her eat what DH and I are eating and if she doesn't she goes hungry? I really just don't know the best way to handle this and I have been completely inconsistent with it. I feel like if I felt certain about one approach I could just stick to it, but I'm really at a loss. Any thoughts are appreciated.

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#2 of 47 Old 01-08-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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I have one great eater - dd eats everything & has yet to eat a food she didn't like. Ds is another story. He loves fruit & carbs - bread, pasta, etc. It's been tough. But, I've come to the conclusion that it's genetic and he truly can't help it. He will go hungry before eating something he doesn't care for.
After some thought, I've decided to take a low pressure approach. And, at 5, he's pretty good about trying new foods - just doesn't care for many of them! I don't make a separate meal for him, but, always try to include one item he likes in the meal. Our go to second meal for him on nights he refuses dinner is either cereal or Peanut butter sandwich - no jelly, as he doesn't like it, lol! He knows these are his choices, but, usually eats part of our meal instead. I decided not to stress - I look at his diet over a few days, or, a week, rather than each meal. For instance, he may have only had plain pasta for dinner, but, he had fruit earlier & his only approved veggie, broccoli, yesterday. That helps me feel better about it. I also supplement with a vitamin. It's definitely frustrating to deal with! I'll be checking back for more tips & advice myself!
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#3 of 47 Old 01-08-2012, 02:23 PM
 
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I would probably just give her what you are eating and try to include something in the meal that she likes and then just let her eat whatever, so long as she understands that's it until the next meal/snack time. I'd do breakfast, lunch and dinner with morning and afternoon tea in there and just let her eat what she wants of it.


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#4 of 47 Old 01-08-2012, 03:22 PM
 
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there is ways to get the nutrients of vegetable into other items, a lot of recipe books focus on that, and maybe as you put more and more slowly into things she like she will develop a taste for them??


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#5 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 01:02 AM
 
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Our rule is, meals you eat what I make ( I am the only one who cooks) or what you are served (at someone else's house) for meals. If you don't want it, you can leave the table or stay and talk, and not have to eat. I don't make him eat-  just offer meal, he eats if he wants or goes hungry until next snack if he doesn't want it. He usually picks his snacks but sometimes I make something special. We try to keep only healthful foods in the house to pick snacks from, but naturally that is not always possible. He has eaten chocolate chip cookies (well, homemade whole wheat and oatmeal) for snacks more than once. I just try not to convey the stress I really feel over whether or not he's eating his carrots/greens (he hate greens)/ whatever. 

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#6 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 06:19 AM
 
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I can relate to your frustration.  My 6.5yo DS has some sensory integration issues--he cannot tolerate "particles" and will not try any sauces (although pizza is fine--logic is not involved on his end).  When he was a toddler, he enjoyed a far greater variety of foods (most fruits).  Now the only fruit he'll eat is bananas (thank goodness for the smooth, highly processed texture of the V8 Fusion juice and for multivitamins).  

 

Anyway, my mom (an OT) gave me some good advice.  I just have to be more consistent about following it.  Introduce one new food a month.  For example, carrots.  Cut up a carrot and offer a slice/stick.  Child doesn't have to eat it, but touching it and sniffing it would be awesome.  Licking it would be fabulous.  No emotions involved, no pressure (ask kid to try it, but don't coerce).  Wait a few days.  Prepare the carrot differently--steamed or roasted or mashed or pureed.  With salt, or with honey, or whatever other seasonings you like.  You're trying to not only expose your child to different types of carrot dishes, you're hoping to hit upon a version that the child will eat.  Of course, with fruits and vegetables, it's more nutritious if they're in their raw state, but a cooked carrot is healthier than no carrot at all.  Over the course of the month, you're aiming for an exposure of the new food on 10 separate occasions.

 

Sadly, carrots were what we tried with my DS.  And it turns out he really, truly hates them (and I was surprised to learn that DH, who will happily sit and eat pounds of raw carrots with hummus gags at sweetened pureed carrots).  That was discouraging.  And apples, which DS used to eat by the slice, and applesauce, no longer have a tolerable texture for him.

 

Another piece of advice, which we have yet to implement:  take family to grocery store's produce department (or local farmer's market); have child choose one ingredient.  Buy it, take it home, and figure out a way to prepare it.  Have child observe (or better yet, help).  Nobody has to actually eat whatever the ingredient is.  It's just a way to gain exposure to the sight, scent, texture (and maybe taste) of a new food.  Do this once a week (or as your budget allows).  Make exploring foods a family adventure, without any pressure to eat the end result.

 

At the moment, I'm in the middle of reading a book my mom gave me called My Kid Eats Everything!  A Journey from Picky to Adventurous Eating by Susan L. Roberts.  It's interesting so far, and offers some ideas/perspectives I hadn't yet considered.

 

HTH!

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#7 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 07:12 AM
 
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I think it was Dr Sears who advised for toddlers, setting out a muffin tin filled with different foods in each cup. I don't use a muffin tin any more, but I do still take this approach of lots of different little things at times and it always works better than when I make big meal.

 

I've also heard that it can take up to 17 exposures to a food to like it, so keep offering it, and model the behavior you want by eating it yourself! Also, raw veggies are usually more popular than cooked veggies. I would not choose sweetened pureed carrots either and I'll eat almost anything.

 

Dipping, as well,  is often popular with kids. You can dip carrot sticks in yogurt, ranch dressing, hummus, even cheese sauce. Sometimes I do ask our kids to take one bite of something to see if they like it.

 

My oldest in particular is very picky, but in a weird way. She's just closed off to trying new things sometimes (only likes water to drink, for example). It took her the longest time to try kiwi, but she likes most fruits. She just didn't want to try it the first time because she was afraid she wouldn't like it (how would she know if she never tried it!!?!), but when she finally did she loved it. So, for that reason I do ask them to try one bite sometimes and then I don't push it any more (unless it's something they particularly asked me to make for them — then they need to eat most of it.)

 

Finally, I think involving kids in growing their own food is the best way to get them to eat fruits and vegetables. My kids will happily eat almost any vegetable they can pick out of a pot or garden when they wouldn't touch it in the kitchen. We have a horrible shady yard for a garden, but I always put a few pots out on the deck to try to get something to grow a little bit. My youngest looooves to forage for wild onions and will chomp on the greens happily (whew — onion breath!), but will pick onions out of everything in the kitchen. We also go visit area farms and go strawberry picking and blueberry picking, etc. My kids definitely know where food comes from and it's not the grocery store.

 

They're both pretty good eaters, really. I do have to encourage dd2 with the veggies, but dd1 loves them, and dd2 will eat them when asked to. Candy for supper would just be her first choice!


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#8 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 08:17 AM
 
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In our house, we have maybe a different view than some.  We feel that wasting food is one of the worst things a person can do (in this house anyway).  We don't allow pickiness in this house unless the person has already tried the particular offending food, more than once.  Only then are they allowed a free pass and it is no longer considered pickiness, but rather a preference.  At mealtimes, one can only refuse one item, and that's it.  No picking 6 items out of the soup.  We work very hard to obtain good quality, nutritious foods (see siggie) for our family and they had better learn to at least appreciate that fact.   Once our children are no longer nursing-around 3, the rule is that they must try one bite (and not a tiny one) of everything.  They must eat at least 3 bites of everything on their plate (or 1 bite per year of age), w/the exception of that one item they are allowed to pick out (after they have TRIED it, of course).  If ever a child actually gagged and had real issues w/a texture or food, fine, I won't push it, except to have them try it again at a later time, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, or the way it was prepared, or whatever.  We don't feel that making a child try something is mean at all, or will cause food issues later on.  NOT making them try things are what cause the issues, imnsho.  We feel that we are the parents and we know what's best for our children.  Children don't always have the capability of understanding all the whys yet, so it's our job to guide them.  As someone upthread said, how would they possibly know they don't like something until they try it? 

 

We have Apies in the house, and even with that we only have 2 food issues.  One kid doesn't care for eggs, unless they are cooked into something (no boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, egg cups, etc. which stinks since we eat alot of eggs), and one doesn't care for cornbread.  I know he doesn't care for cornbread because he will still try it for me, 8 years later, and still doesn't care for it.  He no longer has to try it, but does on his own because he understands that tastes change.  When we have those items w/our supper, they may eat everything else and fill in the gaps w/something comparable (cheese or nuts for the eggs, or bread or crackers for the cornbread).

 

As for a child saying they are not hungry at mealtime...fine, but they must come to the table and sit w/us because family meal time is very, very important to us at the end of the day.  I will put a plate in front of the child and I've yet to see them decide not to eat, lol.

 

We recently had 4 other kids for 2 wks.  There were some issues that came up, specifically w/roasted beets.  One kid in particular is very picky, but she understands the rules in our house and she ate at least a few bites--my dh took one of her bites for himself for each one that she ate--she thought that was cool of him.

 

Now that I've said all that, I will say that I totally agree w/getting those kids into the garden, and into the kitchen.  If you plant it they will eat it, lol.  Often my kids go to the garden for a snack during morning chore time if they can't wait 'til chores are done to eat.  They love to pick out something new from the store (getting pretty hard now that we've tried almost everything, lol), and often request a certain veggie or fruit when I am planning the garden, or making out a shopping list.  We involve our children (and always have) in every aspect of their nutrition (to the best of their understanding/age).  My 5 yo has her own Curious Chef kitchen tools and uses them several times a week.  We all forage for fruits/veggies/nuts as a family activity. They help prepare foods for canning.  They understand what goes into raising a garden, all the way from cleaning out the rabbit poop and watching it nourish our vegetables and fruit trees to harvesting said foods and processing them/eating them.  They understand what it takes to raise an animal for the table (including the actual butchering) and respect their food greatly. 

 

A healthy relationship with food can be had w/the proper guidance and understanding.


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#9 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 08:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chicky2 View Post
 We work very hard to obtain good quality, nutritious foods (see siggie) for our family and they had better learn to at least appreciate that fact.   

I hope that works out for you but prepare for disappointment. My MIL took this attitude with a lot of things, and none of her 5 children really appreciate it. They talk about her being "a dictator" about everything, including what they were to like and respect. You can force your children to eat what you put on the table, but you cannot force them to appreciate you for it.


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#10 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 09:21 AM
 
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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.

 

It's been a while since I've read it, so I can't quote the parameters from memory perfectly, but here's the gist:

 

You (the parent) decide what food to put on the table.

You decide when to serve it.

Obviously you have some responsibilities that go along with those - serving nutritious meals and snacks at the appropriate intervals, and choosing things that are reasonable for young palates.

 

But, and here's the leap of faith, your child decides what he or she will eat (from the selection you have provided), and how much.

 

Satter's method rejects forcing kids to clean their plates, or to eat a specific food, or eat a specific amount (or, for the record, to be restricted from eating "too much" either).

 

While I admit I sometimes ask DD to eat a little more (so I don't follow the guidelines exactly - though I do follow the spirit, since I don't MAKE her eat more, just ask), it's generally worked for me. DD is a picky eater, no doubt, but I think she's fairly free of food issues. She is generally (not always, but generally) willing to try a new food, because she feels secure in knowing she can reject it. Which she usually does. However, over long-term exposure to the food, she does pick up some new ones. Not everything, but in the last year, she's added quite a few new foods to her repertoire.

 

That doesn't magically make your kid eat green vegetables... but, actually, it kind of worked with DD. It took some time but now she likes salad. I just about fell off my chair the day she discovered salad, about 9 months ago. She was willing to try it because she felt safe about it, and for some reason one day she looked at it and it looked good to her. So she tried it and liked it!

 

I see this as a long term prospect. Yes, in the short term, you can "make" a kid eat their green beans. And they will hate it and loathe it and as soon as they go to college they might not ever eat a green bean ever again. Or, you can cultivate a safe food environment, where they will be safe in trying foods, rejecting foods, accepting foods. Obviously it's key to only provide foods you are ok with them eating.

 

I am very big into nutrition, so I don't say this lightly - I don't think it will kill a kid to not eat green vegetables. I think it's best if they do. But the best way is to do it in a way that they control their own bodies and food choices - that way, they can choose green vegetables for life.

 

Also, for context, I don't think humans generally enjoyed greens all year round until recently. So going months without greens is part of the human tradition. So I don't think it's worth it to get overly fixated on green vegetables. I also suspect there is a natural aversion to them in children - possibly because some plants are poisonous, and if kids generally ate plants while outside playing, that could be bad. I think the aversion lifts when they are older and have the capacity for more awareness of food plants.

 

About trying new foods, this is how I approach it when I ask DD to try one, which is not often. First, I generally respond to some clue that she might like it - she might ask what something is, for example. So I will ask her if she wants to sniff it. I never make her sniff anything, but I find sniffing a new food to be very safe for her. If she doesn't like it, it's not stuck in her mouth. So after she sniffs it, I'll ask her if she wants to lick it. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. If it's a liquid food (like soup) I will put VERY little on the spoon for her. Keeping her taste tests safe make her more willing to try. Sometimes she rejects it out of hand, sometimes she wants another lick. It's very rare that she then wants to gobble up the new food (though it's happened). More often she'll say she had enough after her lick... but next time we have the food, she might want to go through the sniff/lick routine again. Or might ask to have just a little. I always comply, not making a big deal about it but certainly giving her a bit of positive feedback.


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#11 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 09:36 AM
 
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My son is very picky, too. Perhaps slightly less picky than your girl, but he's also a little older and has had time to try a few more foods. I decided it was important to me not to have conflict with him about food, and that I had a lot of ways to tell whether he was getting good nutrients. His general health is good, he's growing, and he has energy for the things he likes to do. He generally has rosy cheeks. He seems to eat a good amount of food every day, and he eats several vegetables, a few foods high in protein (like eggs, cheese and tofu) a few whole grains and a lot of fruits. When he has access to sweets, he always takes some, but he doesn't always eat a whole portion of cookies, cake or candy--in fact he usually leaves some over. 

 

I was unhappy that he only liked a few vegetables, too. One way that he learned to eat more of them was for me to tell him I was going to make one for him "extra plain." I said, "When you were little you used to like broccoli, and then you didn't for a little while, and now I think you should try it again to see whether your tastes have changed--I didn't put anything on it, it's just plain." Some foods he likes even when they are mixed with something else, like spinach and pasta, and some foods he wants to have with lemon.

 

One thing that works well for me is for it to be an experiment. You know, I can offer something saying, "This is one of my favorites, but Daddy doesn't like it--let's see whether you like it," or even, "I never liked this when I was a kid, but I love it now, let's see whether you like it." Acknowledging that people grow into tastes can help, because it means you're more grown up if you try the food. I also make him bring back his lunch with the leftovers in it if possible to keep track of what he actually ate. My kid likes science. You can even get a notebook or a spreadsheet (I did this, not with food, but with another behavioral issue, getting ready in the morning) and tell your daughter you're going to ask her to taste food X three nights in a row to see whether it's true that sometimes picky kids like food the third time they try it. Hey, couldn't hurt! (Kids like to see things written down even when they're preliterate, in my experience.) 

 

I also encourage him to say "No thank you," rather than just NO! and to say, "I don't like the looks of that," or "That doesn't appeal to me,"  if he's trying to assert he doesn't like something he's never tried.  I don't make him eat it, I just want him to be polite and accurate. 

 

Generally I do wind up doing what many experts say you shouldn't do, which is making him some food separately--but it's not onerous, I just set aside some of the ingredients going into the regular dinner to prepare separately. It also helped him, when he was younger, to have a plate with compartments. I find it easier to deal with anticipating his pickiness than having a huge power struggle over food. Others really want to avoid the extra work and the pickiness, and prefer to just set out one meal, and I think that's fine--this is easier for me. 


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#12 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 09:59 AM
 
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Ds is age 13.  When he was younger, he would taste something new offered and then decide if he liked it or not.  If he did, terrific, that stayed on the menu choices.  If he didn't we never forced the issue.  There are plenty of foods out there.

 

Veggies were a big I-don't-care-for-them.  Raw carrots, radishes snow peas were the only ones he'd touch (the peas were either raw or sauteed).  As he grew older, he was always willing to try a taste of something, but we respected his decision.  Don't like it?  Don't eat it!

 

Around 6 months ago, my massage therapist told me about fixing brussels sprouts roasted and how delicious they are.  I would sooner eat liver than sprouts (okay, not really, nothing - short of utter and real starvation - could entice me to ever eat liver - shudder...).  I told dh and ds what she said about sprouts.  Dh feels the same way about sprouts as I do, and ds had never even seen sprouts.  But, being open-minded folk, I bought 1# of sprouts and roasted them, as she suggested.  The result?  We were trying to sneak them off each other's plates, they were that great!  We bought several pounds the next day and they have been a regular item in our home ever since. 

 

Roasting the veggies opened up a whole new world of veggies for ds and now I can't think of any he won't eat, except corn (which he has never liked and are off-limits, anyway, as he is now wearing braces, no big loss).  He loves to prepare sauces for squash and his three favorite cookbooks all focus on veggies ("Farm To Fork", "Vegetable Harvest" and "The Roasted Vegetable").  His most recent "I love these" are leeks.  

 

We do not force food on anyone around here.  I would never force a guest to eat something we serve, child OR adult, because of some rule made for our family.  Honestly, I think that is quite rude.  I ask if they like XYZ and always say it's fine if they don't care for it, no insult taken.  But, then, I always tell guest what I plan on serving and ask if they like such-&-such, beforehand. 

 

When we dine at someone else's home, ds is always polite and gives a taste of something new, but has no problems with saying (even prior to tasting), "I'm sorry, but I don't care for ABC.  However, could I have a bit extra of XYZ, please?"  I don't eat red meat (I just don't care for it) or fish (it makes me gag).  So, if we are at at a friend's for a meal and meat or fish is being served, I just say "No, thank you" and eat more of the side dishes.  I don't think I'd ever go back to a home where I was told I had to eat so many bites of everything on my plate because that was their "house rule"!     

 

We DO insist ds eats with us (unless he has a friend over and they want to eat in the loft and watch a movie).  He is old enough to fix something different (or, ask me to fix it) if he doesn't like what we're having (king crab, for instance). 

 

I was forced to eat whatever was placed in front of me and I hated it.  I never hated my parents for it, just the situation.  I remember my Mom saying, "You're not leaving that table until you eat those cooked carrots!"  There were, maybe, 7 coin-type slices on my plate.  I was firm in my resolve.  I also had homework I didn't want to do, so I sat (with secret pleasure!), scratching the dog's head, swinging my legs, watching Mom do the dishes and thinking how wonderful it was that dogs got to avoid eating carrots.  After 2 hours at that table (dog was in bliss), Mom sighs and says, "Oh, fine, go take your bath and get ready for bed."  I was away from that table so fast and into the bubbles and bed.  The next morning, she asked if I had any homework to take to school and I said yes, but that I hadn't done it.  She was, quite rightly, annoyed and asked me why.  I replied, because I'd had to sit at the table, not eating my carrots, and didn't have time before bed.  She asked me why I hadn't said anything about the homework the previous night?  I replied, "You didn't ask me." 

 

THAT ended the eat-what's-on-your-plate rule in our home growing up and forevermore in my life. 

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#13 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 10:54 AM
 
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I don't have a picky eater.  I've only had a few daycare kids who would literally starve before eating what I serve... so,  I don't have a lot of experience with the die hard picky kids...

 

Anyway.  I make One meal.  If someone doesn't like it, there's usually another meal coming later on in the day.  If they don't like dinner, that's unfortunate, but I only make one dinner.  I ALWAYS make at least one thing that each person likes.  I don't just make a taco salad and assume that's going to work for everybody.  There are always other choices on the table too.  (meat, grain, fruit, vegie) and there's always milk if someone wants that.

 

The only reason I would make a kid meal AND an adult meal is if I'm making something that is very kid unfriendly.  I'm not completely unreasonable.

 

Our motto around my daycare is "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit".  Or "Like it or lump it.  Eat it or dump it".   In other words, my job is to fix a meal, their job is to eat it.  But, if I make four things, and they only eat the butter bread, and not the fruit of vegies, they can't have more butter bread.  If they aren't hungry enough for the apples, they aren't that hungry.

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#14 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 11:12 AM
 
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earthgirl - the key is respect. and connection. no matter what the thing is. whether it is food or potty training or crossing the street. 

 

for me the key is to always have a dialogue and make a JOINT decision. it isnt a case of one rules over the other. its more of an understanding what the issue is and understanding both sides of it.

 

when one side makes the rules without the imput of the other that's when trouble starts. 

 

also as laohaire posted - that has always been my own philosophy (no idea someone had already written that). i have never felt children are empty vessels or that they dont have their own 'thing' thought, etc. 

 

so i feel with anything i as a parent do my part and leave my child to do her part. whether that is food or potty training. 

 

the point is not what you do but how you do it. as long as you do something out of love and respect - your actions no matter what it is will never come across as dictatorial. 

 

plus one thing i have found. UNLESS there are sensory issues. 

 

children will eat what they grow. not too intense vegetables like radish. but in general they are more open to eating what they grow.

 

but i also know many kids for whom that was their bodies way of protecting itself. i have a friend who ate VERY LITTLE variety till she was 10. once she started that's when they discovered her giant list of food allergies and food sensitivity. 

 

so. having said all this you have to find a way of finding peace with this situation. i have always gone with my gut on this because i dont really believe this one cookie cutter approach to food and the food pyramid. i really think its hogwash. we all have individual body type, personalities and needs. while one may need variety another might not. i mean hello the inuits only eat meat, or actually did eat when they lived their previous lives. i think teh human body can tolerate much.

 

i think right now we have our whole food system totally screwed up. we dont eat seasonally. how ridiculous is it to eat a tomato in january. why? when there is such a huge variety of winter veggie. i hate how we treat food as medicine - as a pill you have to take - rather than make it into a natural process. 

 

my friend has finally at 9 given up on the food fight. if her son eats an apple, a couple of pieces of carrots and a couple of pieces of lettuce along with his cheeze pizza or breaded chicken she is happy. he is a smart healthy 9 year old who has never eaten 90% of the variety my dd has eaten. yet there is no difference between him and my dd that i can notice. 


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#15 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 11:15 AM
 
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I like Ellyn Satter a lot, too. I try to include foods that I know DS - age 3.5 - will eat in every meal but I try very hard not to either praise or scold him about food other than requiring that he eat neatly with his utensils (a work in progress) and stay in his chair until everyone is finished etc. As Satter writes, it's up to me to decide when, where and what he eats and up to him to decide if he'll eat and how much. It really prevents power struggles.
There are a few things he doesn't like but he's generally not picky.
Last night, for example, he happily ate pork chop and roasted potatoes but picked the spinach out of his salad, eating only the beets and feta. Other times he does eat spinach. We always offer milk and fruit but I will not make another meal. I do sometimes, however, offer an add on for him - a boiled egg, peanut butter toast - if the meal isn't very kid friendly.

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#16 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 11:22 AM
 
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I hope that works out for you but prepare for disappointment. My MIL took this attitude with a lot of things, and none of her 5 children really appreciate it. They talk about her being "a dictator" about everything, including what they were to like and respect. You can force your children to eat what you put on the table, but you cannot force them to appreciate you for it.

We don't generally force our kids to do anything.  We talk about our expectations and why we have them.  I know very well that our children are very appreciative of the things they have.  They comment all the time about how their friends don't do the things they "get" to do, like having animals and responsibilities.  No one else we know other than my family forages and preserves food like we do.  Our children are growing up doing the things we do the way we do them and that is totally normal.  They can't understand why their friends think sorting thru 60 gallons or so of free crabapples is work.  They view it as an opportunity to try something new, because who gets crab apples at the store?  It's all in the way you talk to and with your children (unless, like has been mentioned already, someone has a major issue such as an integrated sensory disorder like a good friend of mine's son does--but he will still eat at MY house, even if he won't at hers--maybe it's how it's presented?).

 

I think that telling me to "prepare for disappointment" is a bit rude.   Apparently our family dynamics are way different than yours.  Besides, it's not like my kids are tiny.  They are quite old enough to make their own decisions about lots of things.  My 23 yo thinks very highly of the way she has been raised, and is very thankful in general, and helpful in our family adventures.
 

 


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#17 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 11:29 AM
 
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We do not force food on anyone around here.  I would never force a guest to eat something we serve, child OR adult, because of some rule made for our family.  Honestly, I think that is quite rude.  I ask if they like XYZ and always say it's fine if they don't care for it, no insult taken.  But, then, I always tell guest what I plan on serving and ask if they like such-&-such, beforehand. 

 

When we dine at someone else's home, ds is always polite and gives a taste of something new, but has no problems with saying (even prior to tasting), "I'm sorry, but I don't care for ABC.  However, could I have a bit extra of XYZ, please?"  I don't eat red meat (I just don't care for it) or fish (it makes me gag).  So, if we are at at a friend's for a meal and meat or fish is being served, I just say "No, thank you" and eat more of the side dishes.  I don't think I'd ever go back to a home where I was told I had to eat so many bites of everything on my plate because that was their "house rule"!     

 

When I have other children in my care, especially for a week or two at at time, they are expected to follow the house rules.  That is what we feel is fair for all involved.  Their parents certainly have no problem with it. 

 

We never make our kids finish every bite on their plate--we cannot tell when they are truly full-only they can.  Only that they have to try so many bites because otherwise children will try to just take a tiny taste that doesn't make it to all the different taste buds.  How could one decide if they like something or not if it doesn't even hit the proper area of taste buds for the food?

 

 


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#18 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 12:09 PM
 
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 Only that they have to try so many bites because otherwise children will try to just take a tiny taste that doesn't make it to all the different taste buds.  How could one decide if they like something or not if it doesn't even hit the proper area of taste buds for the food?

 

I promise, I'm not being snarky! orngtongue.gif  Just wondering what you would do if you had someone visiting (adults, other children or even your own children) that simply doesn't like what you serve (they have had it before and don't like it).  Or, that have a personal difficulty with a certain food (don't eat certain meats or fish) or have sensory issues. 

 

I can't stand pureed foods such as applesauce, I don't care how it's spiced.  And, I will gag upon having a bite of steak in my mouth.  I won't eat celery raw, as it makes me dizzy (seriously), as does cumin, unless it is cooked in a dish.  MSG bothers me to the point my jaw locks (which certainly halts any complaints about a food!).  So, you see, even as an adult, I would be saying no to certain foods you might serve and would not taste, them no matter what your rules say! reading.gif

 

Also, what happens if they flat-out refuse to taste something??  nono02.gif

 

By the way, very cool that you forage for wild foods and grow your own!  We have a large organic orchard and garden.  Nothing like knowing where your food comes from and how it was grown!!  thumb.gif

 

 

 

 

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#19 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all of your responses. Reading through all of this, I'm realizing the problem is more with me and my own food issues. I know what feels like the right approach in my gut, but I am so fearful of passing on my issues to her that I just keep being inconsistent. Thanks for helping me get some clarity on this. I think having her at least try a bite or two of what I've made makes sense, and so does let her having her have some freedom to choose what she eats. I think I just needed a little reminder that it's OK for her to be picky and that I don't have to really look at this as a problem. I appreciate your help!

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#20 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 02:13 PM
 
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Thanks so much for all of your responses. Reading through all of this, I'm realizing the problem is more with me and my own food issues. I know what feels like the right approach in my gut, but I am so fearful of passing on my issues to her that I just keep being inconsistent. Thanks for helping me get some clarity on this. I think having her at least try a bite or two of what I've made makes sense, and so does let her having her have some freedom to choose what she eats. I think I just needed a little reminder that it's OK for her to be picky and that I don't have to really look at this as a problem. I appreciate your help!



I was fearful too, of passing on my own issues. DH was also fearful - he was hospitalized as a child for not eating enough. He is actually very anxious about DD's eating habits (focused primarily on how much she ate and how filling the food was), but we tried the division of responsibilities (I prepare foods and serve them at the times I choose, DD eats what and how much she wants) and it worked well enough that he has relaxed a lot. And I've come to realize that now DD eats much better than I did at her age. She is not a perfect eater by any means - she's still picky and I'd like her to eat more protein than she does. But still, she eats a larger variety of foods than I did, and much more nutrient-dense. I was eating a steady diet of cereal/rice/pasta as a kid, and she was headed in the same direction.


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#21 of 47 Old 01-09-2012, 05:12 PM
 
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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/


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#22 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 06:15 AM
 
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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.

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#23 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 06:49 AM
 
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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. 

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#24 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 08:23 AM
 
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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.

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#25 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 09:12 AM
 
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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!

 

 

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#26 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 10:00 AM
 
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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?


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#27 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 10:04 AM
 
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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.

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#28 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#29 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 12:07 PM
 
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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.


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#30 of 47 Old 01-10-2012, 12:29 PM
 
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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?  


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