Do you think it's cruel not to make children extra food if they don't like what you made? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 11:06 AM
 
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Wookie, you bring up another good point, which is that the extremely varied diet that many of us have grown accustomed to in the States may contribute to the feeling that kids are more picky than they would appear to be in a culture that doesn't expect as much variety. "Variety is the spice of live" and "Eat the rainbow" are great if that can work for you but there are certainly cultures that eat far less variety and I believe are considered healthy. 

 

Like your child, mine is fairly "equal opportunity" when it comes to the types of foods she'ss picky about - convenience foods as much as whole foods. 


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#62 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 11:15 AM
 
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The picker of my kids is pickiest about candy of all things. She goes trick-or-treating on Halloween, and sorts through her candy, and keeps almost none of it because she says the rest is icky for one reason or another.

But she'll eat all the apple, green beans, and broccoli I'll put in front of her.

So I agree that "picky" doesn't necessarily mean "unhealthy." Although a lot of the time it does.

The pickier of my kids doesn't like anything mixed, and doesn't like fake fruit flavors, which explains her candy issues. If there is plain chocolate, fine. Chocolate + anything else - not OK. And that explains much of her pickiness. Plain carrot is fine. Carrot mixed with anything else is not fine. Pasta plain is fine. Pasta with sauce is not.

Kids have much stronger (or is it more?) tastebuds than adults. I tell them that and they do try food from time to time that they've rejected to see if they like it yet. They think of it that way - not that they don't like something at all, but that they don't like it yet but might very well like it someday.

I'm just not a fan of having any drama over meals. I think it makes food take on a greater amount of importance than I feel is healthy. I think another thing that is common in the US is overeating due to food being so much more than food to us. I really try to be very relaxed about food for that reason. I don't make extra meals, but if they want yogurt, carrot sticks, and some pistachio nuts, I can live with that. My only rules for food substitutes are: they have to be able to get them together on their own, they must contain some vegetable content, and they can't involve cooking or messing of extra dishes. Beyond that, I back off and give them some autonomy over themselves.
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#63 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 11:49 AM
 
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For those who make only dinner, what does everyone eat for breakfast and lunch? Maybe that's for another thread.
 

 

Whatever each person individually wants because we don't eat those meals as a group most days. When we eat as a group for those meals, we usually discuss and come to an agreement.

 

If I am putting together dd's solo meal, I ask her what she wants and might suggest items to make her meal more complete. I give dd a lot of choice and she is capable of getting her own food.

Dd can be a picky, or rather non-adventurous eater,  so breakfasts and lunches tend to be the same kind of foods. They are not unhealthy.

 

As a child, I ate most food my parent's served. My mom was kind enough to make a plain hamburger patty for me on meatloaf night because she knew I hated meatloaf but other times I could just get a bowl of cereal if I didn't want to eat what she made. I think there was an underlying attitude of "The food is there. If you don't want it, more for the rest of us."  No one made a big fuss. I sometimes ate things I didn't love, but not food I absolutely hated.  I never went hungry because I didn't want to eat the prepared meal. As an adult I have grown to like or tolerate foods I wouldn't eat as a child. I think if I had been constantly harassed or forced into eating them I would never have liked those foods.

 

I always grew up wanting to cook and started cooking meals for the whole family on my own by the time I was 12 or 13 years old. I don't know if that makes a difference in my willingness to eat a lot of things or increased appreciation for someone's efforts but I suppose it could. Maybe the answer is to get the kids helping to prepare meals?


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#64 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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They think of it that way - not that they don't like something at all, but that they don't like it yet but might very well like it someday.

I *love* this!!! DS has texture issues but other than that, he is kind of the opposite of picky (for a while I wondered if he even had taste buds lol) but I am going to remember this in case my next kid(s) are picky!

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#65 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 01:33 PM
 
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The breakfast and lunch question was because I was wondering how many rely on the schools to provide those meals. Of those who answered, it seems none. I was curious, because I have my doubts about the nutrition from school food. I've heard that some schools got into the practice of having fast food providers supply the food. But ... that's another thread!
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#66 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 01:37 PM
 
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On the subject of variety -- my son spent several years eating only a few select dishes. Now, as a teen, his interest in variety has emerged. When I asked him about this, about a month ago, he told me when he was busy learning other things, he wanted his food boring and predictable. Now he's in a different place, and using what he's learned, and now variety in food is a good thing. Food for thought.
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#67 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 01:39 PM
 
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Maybe in other countries there is less pressure to eat variety, and therefore children are not viewed as picky.
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#68 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 03:18 PM
 
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Maybe in other countries there is less pressure to eat variety, and therefore children are not viewed as picky.


This is true and also not. In Indian cooking, for example, lots of curries have similar or same base sauces and it's only the veggies that are different so a lot of times many dishes will taste similar. So veggies are not as visibly apparent. Maybe this makes a difference because if a kid likes one kind of sauce switching veggies is easier? Dunno, I'm just guessing.

 

Another thing that I think plays a part is family size. When I was very young we lived within a joint (extended) family with grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins etc. In those times, things weren't as child-centric. Children were just another part of the family that grew up within the milieu without any special attention. Not to be confused with love because obviously everyone in the family loved every child. Food wasn't served as a big meal to the child specifically. I remember adults would be eating and we kids would come and go as we pleased every time soneone shoving a mouthful or whatever they were eating into ours. This changed much later when we were maybe 10 when we were served our own meal instead of just fobbing off others' plates. It just was a very different kind of living and there was never any focus or pressure. Now we eat so differently-- my kids get fed before because of schedules and I have to choose whether to eat with them or wait for DH. We don't often eat as a family. I think that contributes to it all.

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#69 of 103 Old 01-18-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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My dd eats school food mostly but chooses a breakfast item each week to have at home. Our district does a great job of providing healthy foods with an emphasis on whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also about $.40 a meal so she would get that no matter what was served.
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#70 of 103 Old 01-19-2013, 12:44 AM
 
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I would recommend the book French Kids Eat Anything. It was well-written and also reassuring that most kids can eat most things.


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#71 of 103 Old 01-19-2013, 12:46 AM
 
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The breakfast and lunch question was because I was wondering how many rely on the schools to provide those meals. Of those who answered, it seems none. I was curious, because I have my doubts about the nutrition from school food. I've heard that some schools got into the practice of having fast food providers supply the food. But ... that's another thread!

 

Around here, the big complaint from the kids about the school food is that it's too healthy.

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#72 of 103 Old 01-19-2013, 05:06 PM
 
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I had a thought about this dilemma, and based on some of the options families have, I wonder how prevalent very-large pantries and fridges are contributing to some of the difficulties. Is there too much variety going on? I have a philosophy that if something edible is present in the home, then it is food and can be eaten at any time. While some of our limited choices involve a cook-time, most often I pre-cook a few items, like garbanzo beans, and then they can be quick-warmed with hot water for a snack.

 

We live in a very small space, and have an RV fridge, so we don't have the variety of options that I suppose most families do. We keep one kind of cereal for DD, oatmeal for me, and then cans of tuna for lunch, and pick up dinners as we travel for a couple days at a time. We usually have a few kinds of fruits and then some kind of frozen thing (blended banana and blueberry pops, for example) in the freezer. One thing we absolutely DO NOT do, is keep what we call "not-food" in the house. This doesn't mean we never have a snack cake or some kind of pasta, but we don't "carry" it. We have a picture menu of all the foods (real foods) we like so that DD can look and see what kinds of things she'd like to eat at the same time (brussels sprouts, pears, and spinach with an entire pineapple was her last concoction). 

 

I'm a fan of listening to our bodies, so when dd seemed to eat kale like it was her last meal (for weeks) I indulged. Of course! There might be a good reason her body is seeking heads of kale a day....who am I to tell her it's time to eat acorn squash just because that's what I made up?

 

I think a lot of times parents are frustrated when kids are saying "I don't like your healthy stuff....I want what's in the snack cupboard", and then we feel pretty bad about deeming those chem-foods "okay" only during certain times of the day or only in moderation, and we might even feel guilty that we have the junk around and have to say "no" so often. If a food can't be eaten at any time of the day and as much as we want, then it's probably "not-food". I know.....some kids can't do a mess of fruit before bed and the like, but on average I think the conflict stems from variety and having oh-so-tasty options within 10 feet. 

 

We have a lot of fun doing "color night" and the like (where all the dinner food is orange, for example), or rainbow night....but blue is a tough one to find in the real-food realm. I think if kids have a say in what's for dinner, they are more likely to be on-board, and when the selection is narrow (such as--only the produce section), the choices are much easier. I think sometimes we're also like Jack Sprat and his wife....dd likes the mushy part of tomatoes, and I like the firmer parts...but we rarely cross over. If I gave her something with crispy tomatoes, she'd likely shove it aside (but I could give her the slop and she'd love it), but if she wanted me to make a dinner that was "all" sloppy tomatoes, I'd be the one hitting the fridge for something different for myself.

 

I had to do a lot of re-learning with how to make meals after being raised in the midwestern "hot-dish" realm and had to break free of "main dish, side 1 and side 2", so we have what other folks would call quite bizarre meals at times. It's healthy and tasty, though, mostly. The 5 year old says so. Maybe the flexibility we have fits with the odd meals too....We're also okay with mono meals.....strawberries for lunch is awesome.

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#73 of 103 Old 01-19-2013, 07:23 PM
 
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Processed and chemical foods are not part of our diet, at all! I forget that others might have candy or store cookies in the house. How foolish of me! It's been so many years without that stuff, I forget it exists. There does need to be clarification from the OP, if those kinds of foods are part of the problem.
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#74 of 103 Old 01-20-2013, 05:10 PM
 
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A real issue for me is not battling over food. I don't want any kind of power struggle over food in my house. In cultures with lots of available food and lots of junk it tends to have a different dynamic.

What I'm trying to say is that I want my children to feel respected and heard regarding their preferences and have positive associations that are relaxed and balanced when it comes to eating. I want them to internalize a love for real food and judging from all the different responses on this thread there may be many ways to accomplish that depending on the family and the personalities and abilities of those involved.

I have one picky eater, one who will eat anything and a third who falls in the middle mostly. I try to make things that everyone likes but it gets boring. If I want something I know my kids won't like I make something else for them. If there's a reasonable expectation that they will enjoy it and they don't, usually my oldest, he is welcome to get something else.

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#75 of 103 Old 01-20-2013, 05:43 PM
 
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Oh and another thing I do is let DD decide what we have for dinner about once or twice a week. That way she has some input into what we eat sometimes too. 


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#76 of 103 Old 01-21-2013, 07:15 AM
 
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The breakfast and lunch question was because I was wondering how many rely on the schools to provide those meals. Of those who answered, it seems none. I was curious, because I have my doubts about the nutrition from school food. I've heard that some schools got into the practice of having fast food providers supply the food. But ... that's another thread!

Oh, well my kids aren't old enough to get school lunches yet. But I probably wouldn't let them eat much of the schools lunches anyways. We are vegetarians who don't eat much dairy due to intolerances. And I would think I could pack a healthier lunch than school would provide.


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#77 of 103 Old 01-21-2013, 07:28 PM
 
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We've done different things.  When younger we allowed a sandwich or toast before we lightened up on wheat.  Now our main strategy is to mostly serve popular simple meals over and over in rotation. 

 

I try to accommodate different tastes up to a point.  Sometimes an extra vegetable for folks that might not like the other choice.  We do some assemble-your-own meals.  Like burritos/salads and sometimes pizza.  I avoid wheat--my kids love it.  Some love squash, some would rather have green beans.  I can easily make both, but NOT two separate main meals.  Kids can add baby carrots as an alternative to something they don't like. I can think ahead and know what people will dislike--it's mostly very established--so I decide whether to offer an alternative.  Leftovers from previous night's dinner make a good alternative.  Most of the dinners in our rotation meet with approval from most of the kids, our rotation is small, and new things are pretty simple so we know who will like what.  We have a limited enough budget and rationing attitude that everyone is pretty happy to eat.

 

Our ds has major pickiness issues BTW.  He will not eat any hot cereals, onions, tomatoes, squash, dislikes cooked fish, hates cooked rice, hates cream, never eats any type of yogurt, etc.  Would eat macaroni and hot dogs all the time... He has recently decided to stop eating baked potatoes, ever. He does have texture aversions and picks the stems of his salad leaves and other little things like that. 

 

I've just drawn my lines.  He can make his burrito his own way.  He can have green beans or a salad when we have squash.  He can replace a baked potato with veggies but can't also fill up the rest of the way with seconds of a meat if there was only enough for everyone to have one serving in the first place.  If he skips the rice, there may or may not be something to replace it with--or I mix the rice with the stir fry and that's all there is.  I will definitely grumble at him if he is trying to fill up on bread/ heaps of pasts with other choices available to balance that out. 

 

Some of the meals we make are his favorites and I don't like them myself.  In fact, I will often choose to make a main dish I prefer that the kids may be picky about on a day when we have a huge leftover pot of the favored pasta salad that I do not eat.  So when we have two "main courses" that is how we usually do it and it is based on my food choices because wheat makes me feel bad.

 

But everyone likes roasts, chicken soups, baked chicken, meat/broccoli/carrot stir fries, chili, baked bean/soups beans, oven fries or mashed potatoes, eggs and sausage, and everyone can make a salad or a burrito or a pizza that suits themselves.  I know that if I make dd's favorite tomato soup, I should expect to let ds eat something else but not special cooking--a leftover and maybe a sandwich.  That is probably less than one meal in twenty where we have that issue though.  We eat the same meals repeatedly.  There is not very much to be picky about that there isn't some simple alternative, and since I don't do much casserole or experimental mixed dishes there is almost no meal that isn't partly acceptable for a picky person and one course may be skipped or replaced without having a totally different meal.  I think that the predictability of choices is really good for our family.    


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#78 of 103 Old 01-21-2013, 08:00 PM
 
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I would recommend the book French Kids Eat Anything. It was well-written and also reassuring that most kids can eat most things.

Yes, I was just about to post to recommend this book! It's a great read, and even if you can't or don't want to adopt "the French way" of dealing with kids and food, I found it had a lot of good ideas, positive ways of talking with kids about food, reminders I found helpful. (For instance, since reading it we've pretty much eliminated snacking after 4 p.m., which I used to allow, as long as the snacks were healthy foods. Now when DD says she's hungry at 4, I say, "That's great, dinner will be so delicious! It feels so good to hear dinner when you're hungry." And surprise, surprise, she is much more likely to eat what we're having for dinner - variety, vegetables, and all -- because she is actually hungry at dinnertime.)
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#79 of 103 Old 01-21-2013, 08:02 PM
 
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I had a lot of food issues growing up, so I'm sensitive to this with my children. My parents were the type to force us to sit at the table and eat whatever was served, no matter what. There were times that we'd be at the table for close to 2 hours because we didn't want to eat what my mom had cooked.

 

We give our kids an option at dinner time - they can have "x" or "y", and we let them decide.

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#80 of 103 Old 01-21-2013, 09:57 PM
 
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I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?


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#81 of 103 Old 01-21-2013, 11:20 PM
 
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We always have an afternoon snack but after that no snacking before dinner.  People are hungry when it gets to dinner time for sure.


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#82 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 05:11 AM
 
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I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P

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#83 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 08:06 AM
 
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I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

 

True. I rarely make something me and my DH don't like. BUT, we are not picky eaters at all. We will pretty much eat everything.  I dislike blueberries, but everyone else loves them, so I do bake with them or buy fresh ones for snacking. My DH won't touch shrimp, so I cook it on the side to add to me and the kids dishes.  But again, I'm not the type of person to make my kids eat something I know they don't like.

 

And I cut off snacking by about 3:00pm for dinner at 5:30pm. My kids will not eat dinner if they snack after that. But I will allow snacking after dinner if they are still hungry.  


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#84 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

I agree.  

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I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P

It's not a choice between "eat this or go hungry" or catering to 5 people.  

 

I wear the badge of short order cook quite proudly, though admittedly out of necessity, and you do hear "I can't make that because I'm already making this".  My stove is clogged, or my pans are committed, or they asked for a baked potato at the last minute*.  It is not: "one lasagna, one spaghetti and meatballs, one stir-fry, one hamburger, and one bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, comin' right up!"  

 

It is a converstaion about wants, about what we have available, what one cook (and eventually more, hopefully!) can realistically prepare and have ready all together.  Some menu items can always be on the menu-- yogurt, toast, raw veggies, fruit, nuts, etc.

 

*this came up last night, actually.  It turned out that no one was hungry right off, I didn't have the rest of dinner started, and it wasn't that late in the evening, and 1/2 a baked potato sounded good to dh as well.  So, on this night, it did work out.  I popped the potato in the oven, sat at the table playing solitaire while the girls did their puzzle books.  Dinner was a little late, but no one minded.  This might not have worked on a different night, but tonight it did.


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#85 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P

Children do not ask to be born -- it is the parents who choose it. Providing food for the children you brought into this world is your responsibility. It is not cruel to be considerate. After all, you want your children to be considerate of you. Model consideration.

Has the OP abandoned this thread? I hope our bickering didn't drive her away.
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#86 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 03:04 PM
 
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I didn't read all the replies, but, I do not think you are being unreasonable.

 

Personally, eating cereal for dinner drives me crazy and I would not allow that.  DH tries that and it REALLY irritates me.  Thing is, his mother didn't make meals, they just ate whatever they fixed themselves, or his dad ordered pizza, I guess...

 

I grew up with either my mom or my dad, and later my sister or I, fixing dinner.... EVERY NIGHT.  We either ate what was fixed, or went without.  My sister didn't like Baked Potatoes, so my mom allowed her to have cottage cheese instead.  I didn't like cottage cheese, and did like potatoes, so wasn't a problem growing up.

 

With DD and DH, I usually give them two choices of what they want for dinner... they decide, I make it (with DD's help now - she's much more likely to eat something she picked out and participated in making).

 

If DD doesn't eat her meal, I cover it and put it in the fridge, she's welcome to eat it later if she's hungry (sometimes I reheat, some times she gets it cold).  There's only been one meal I fixed her an alternate food... I made Thai Chicken Curry Soup... it was a little more spicy than the recipe let on...  She loves spicy... but it was HOT!  She got a different meal that night after taking one bite and not liking it, and a different meal when we ate the left overs....

 

Good Luck!


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#87 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 04:39 PM
 
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I'm curious to know how often the people who don't allow their children to get something else cook food that they themselves don't like? My MIL required my husband and his siblings to eat everything (and it backfired on 5 out of 5 children by the way), but she will tell you that she never, ever cooked foods if she didn't like them. How's that fair?

I often cook and eat food I am not fond of because my dd likes them. I would live on burritos, peas, and spaghetti if I could but I value variety for health reasons. If I make a food I know my dd will despise I make an alternate for her but this rarely happens anymore.

I think there is a big difference between not preparing extra food for a child who just wants an alternative to a food they also like and not offering an alternative to a food your child despises. I also think eating only carbs is a bad habit to get into, cereal for dinner each night isn't healthy, and that the alternative food should be in the same food group as the food that is skipped if substitutions are allowed.
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#88 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 04:42 PM
 
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I think its cruel that you have to try to cater to 5 peoples preferences. =P


If you mean me, I really don't mind a bit because my only food agendas are to make those five people happy and well-fed.  We mostly rotate meals we know everyone likes, add an extra veggie sometimes, etc. 

 

My kids are all big enough to help make dinner anyway.  They are likely to be helping in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, etc. and when we have the pasts salad I dislike and others love, ds who adores it most actually does the cooking for the whole meal anyway.  Nobody's catering if I simply prepare myself a salad to avoid wheat...  The fact that everyone helps in the kitchen means no one is a victim and everyone can help make decisions about meal choices.  For instance since not everyone loves baked potatoes but everyone loves oven fries, I sometimes will just offer to make those but only if the kids will peel potatoes so it's not all my job to fulfill their wishes.


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#89 of 103 Old 01-22-2013, 08:50 PM
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I haven't read the other replies, but this is how I feel about it:

 

As long as I'm blessed enough to have a multitude of food options in my house, my children will be able to eat something nutritious that they want to eat, even if it isn't what I first offered them.   We just do not have food battles in my house.  

 

We've also found that growing a large, organic garden helps our kids love their vegetables! 


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#90 of 103 Old 01-23-2013, 08:44 AM
 
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We've also found that growing a large, organic garden helps our kids love their vegetables! 

This does help!  My veg-phobic younger daughter becomes a regular rabbit during the growing season.  Both graze on peas, raw kale, carrots straight from the garden bed.... doesn't work with every single thing.  They still won't eat tomatoes unless they come in a ketchup bottle.    


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