What do you do when they don't want to eat their dinner? - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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#121 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 12:41 AM
 
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How do those who love to cook see the issue?

When I've spent an hour or more preparing a dinner, and someone in my family asks for something completely different, I see it as an opportunity and not a chore. I love cooking, especially for others. When I lived alone I ate boxed macaroni, frozen pizza and lunchmeat. When I live with others, we all eat well. I love making 3 or 4 dishes simultaneously, halving one recipie while doubling another and still keeping track of everything, putting two things at once into the oven that each have to cook at different times and different temps and coming up with a way to make it all come out perfect regardless...wow! It's just a field day for me!

One of the reasons I want to be a SAHM even when the kids are old enough to be in school is so I can spend a large part of my day making little snack trays for them and any friends they might bring over. The more friends they have, the more different snacks I can make.

If I did not particularly enjoy cooking, maybe I would look at this issue differently.
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#122 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 12:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Greaseball
How do those who love to cook see the issue?
This is a very good point! I think one of the reasons that i don't see that much difference between "you can have anything on the table" and "you can have anything in the house" is that I do like to cook. I always view guests with different tastes as a challenge to relish.

But also, as we go through pages and pages of this thread, I am seeing less and less difference between the two positions, even as people taking them become increasingly polarized. It doesn't seem like a big deal to me whether my son will eat the food on the table or wants something else in the fridge, everything in our house is pretty good for him to eat. I do see, because of things people have written here, that this is a privileged position that comes out of never having lacked food. I could see limiting my child's food choices if we didn't have enough food. Food waste does bother me, but I have gotten pretty good at managing leftovers so that things don't get wasted.

I do think that having a child with an adventurous palate is a matter of what we provide in the house as a whole, not only what is on the table at dinner time. (Though FullCream I am so impressed that you have a repetoire of 50 meals! it makes me want to list out all the meals I make to find out if I have that many!)

One friend of mine who was a mom many years before I was, a natural healer, said that children are naturally curious about bitter and sour flavors. She would leave herbal medicine for her toddler, saying, "Here is some medicine for you, it's really bitter, come take some when you want to try it" and her toddler would come and take it. Even though children are really sensitive to taste, they can enjoy a wide range of flavors. I have used this with older children, saying, "this dish is quite sour, do you like to try sour foods?" and they usually say, "Yes, I will try it."

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#123 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:03 AM
 
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Originally Posted by FullCream
S
I wonder perhaps if those of you who are arguing that maya et al's approach is wrong are 'seeing' something other than what is actually happening in our homes. Our meals are happy and relaxed. Emma has a wonderful relationship with food (I wish mine were as good) and food is not a control issue at all :t
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#124 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Greaseball
How do those who love to cook see the issue?
Well, I would put myself in that category. Which is why it is important that my kids enjoy their food and be willing to try new foods. And because I often spend a fair amount of time cooking dinner, I don't want to get up and cook something else the minute they say "I don't want this" -- I want to enjoy the fruits of my labors, not make something else while mine gets cold. These days I do avoid things that I can pretty well predict the kids won't like, just because it doesn't seem worth the effort if no one will enjoy it. But I also try new things all the time, and sometimes they are a hit and sometimes they aren't. Hense, back to the "present it so they can be exposed to it, allow an alternative if they chose" idea. I never make them try it, even it if did take 3 hours of work to prepare! But I would never coerce them into eating anything.

Somehow I get the feeling that people are getting the impression that its either "coerce" new foods or always cook familiar foods. It really doesn't have to be that way. It is possible to have kids who willingly try new things, without the hint of coercion, or pleading, or anything. I think part of that is that they know that if they don't like it, they can say so. Some of it is that, if they don't even like the look or smell of it, I'm not going to be unpleasant about it. I never make a fuss if they say "I'd rather have some yogurt" and take care of it. Very easy, all the way around.
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#125 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:47 AM
 
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I wonder perhaps if those of you who are arguing that maya et al's approach is wrong are 'seeing' something other than what is actually happening in our homes. Our meals are happy and relaxed.
I only know what is posted here.

I realize you are saying because of this approach, your children never ask for anything that isn't on the table.

I suppose the question is, why is that a good thing?

Again, I just do not see the reasoning behind the limitation to what is on the table.

It is like being a key keeper for the pantry.

The kids have to go through the parent to get to the food.



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#126 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:50 AM
 
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It is possible to have kids who willingly try new things, without the hint of coercion, or pleading, or anything. I think part of that is that they know that if they don't like it, they can say so. Some of it is that, if they don't even like the look or smell of it, I'm not going to be unpleasant about it. I never make a fuss if they say "I'd rather have some yogurt" and take care of it. Very easy, all the way around.
I don't think you realize that some people here are saying, if the child doesn't want to eat what's on the table, they won't be given yogurt either. Unless it's already on the table.

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#127 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 02:00 AM
 
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I just want to add that we aren't playing musical chairs when we eat either.

I agree that if everyone likes what is on the table, there's no motivation to get something different.

But if that's the case, and everyone likes what is on the table, there's no need to limit kids to what is on the table.

It's makes no sense to have the rule at all, or even the thought of the rule. It would be totally unnecessary.

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#128 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 02:05 AM
 
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I treat different kids differently. My 5 year old will avoid healthy foods if he knows that sweets are available (I don't make sweets available all the time!)

I don't make my kids eat certain foods, but I do expect them to eat at mealtimes if I offer foods that I know they like. I make two veggies and I expect at least one to be eaten - I'll ask my 5 year old, "do you want carrots, broccoli, or a little bit of both?"

He is a kid who doesn't like sauce or foods mixed together - so I keep plain foods off to the side for him as I cook - plain chicken, plain pasta, plain veggies, etc.

My new pet peeve is if he ASKS for a specific food, I prepare it and then he doesn't eat it. Then I won't make something else.

Also, today he made himself a sandwich, but he kept adding stuff to it. I finally limited the size of the sandwich and I told him that I expected him to eat if. Of course halfway thru it, he is done. I told him to put it in a baggie in the fridge and later at snack time I brought it back out. Grrrr. Still, I didn't force him to eat it, but we sort of compromised and he ate the insides and tossed the bread.

Whatever, I'm not going to fight about food, but I do expect kids to be respectful about the people who grow, prepare and serve food and the people that they are eating with.
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#129 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 02:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by maya43
Her studies also show that people who are not given a chance to let go of "safe foods" in childhood often become people who are afraid of new foods as adults (Interetingly the same thing happens when children are forced to eat a food, rather than being told that it is their choice.)
I believe it it my job as a parent to help my kids expand their palate.
ITA. My mom didn't "make" us try new foods. She always gave us our comfort foods. We never tried anything new. We are all VERY picky eaters. I resent the fact my mom didn't try harder to have us try new things.
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#130 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 03:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by heartmama
I only know what is posted here.

I realize you are saying because of this approach, your children never ask for anything that isn't on the table.

I suppose the question is, why is that a good thing?

Again, I just do not see the reasoning behind the limitation to what is on the table.

It is like being a key keeper for the pantry.

The kids have to go through the parent to get to the food.



exactly
yes, I want my ds to be invloved with choosing and making foods, he is very interested in cooking, as me and dh are, so it is a family thing naturally
I think its a good point, too, of whether you enjoy cooking. I enjoy making varied meals, and having varied leftovers to heat up in case the first meal is just picked at a little. we don't waste food, we just don't limit the choices to what me or dh decides is "for dinner" that night. healthy leftovers and snacks aren't timeconsuming to heat up. whats the big deal? I grew up with dinnertime being about control and pressure, not going to do that with my dc

I've watched some friends who have always urged "one more piece of broccoli" or two pieces of quesidilla, etc . and limit and choose everything go throguh a lot of power struggles with their dd, who is now 5 and have stomach aches and doesnt want to eat much.
Kids need to feel they have the respect to make choices of waht they eat, when they eat- If done from birth and surrounded by natural foods, I have seen that they will naturally choose healthy foods, and have well rounded weeks, and try new foods from all kinds of places in the world. it doesnt have to be a big deal. We dont need to nitpick every decison of theirs.

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#131 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 10:44 AM
 
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I don't really like to cook.

But, heating up a can of beans and some leftover rice is not that big a deal. Nor is steaming a small portion of veggies.

Heartmama said it all--if there are no limits and controls, then why are there limits and controls? Just because the children don't ask for something outside the limits, doesn't mean the limits aren't there. And it seems that if those children DID ask, they would be denied food. That seems wrong to me. If we've got it in the house, people are welcome to it.

Also, there seems to be a false dichotomy being set up that people who don't offer alternatives have adventerous eaters, and those that do offer alternatives have picky eaters. That is not the truth.
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#132 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 11:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Diaper_Addict_Jen
ITA. My mom didn't "make" us try new foods. She always gave us our comfort foods. We never tried anything new. We are all VERY picky eaters. I resent the fact my mom didn't try harder to have us try new things.
I don't think it's too late for you to try new foods now. My mom made very bland dinners, and almost all of them included meat. Her one non-meat dinner was fish and her macaroni and cottage cheese casserole. i liked everything she made. As an adult, I eat very few of the meals my mom made. I learned to like eggplant, beets and kale. She made mostly frozen vegetables, I eat mostly fresh. I eat spicy foods, including Indian food which my mom doesn't like. I eat whole grains, she complains that they are brown, etc. etc. Most of the new foods that I have tried I have learned to make myself from cookbooks.

I'm just saying, it's never too late to try new and tasty things.

BTW, my mom made dinner and we never asked her for anything that wasn't on the table. It just wasn't part of our protocol. I think we refused food a bit--my mom isn't a great cook--and ewwww, the veal meatloaf with mushrooms she learned to make from The Diet Workshop . But the rest of the fridge looked like that too, so what would have been the point of asking for something different? :LOL

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#133 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 11:20 AM
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My dh's Mother was not much of a cook. Hot dogs, Campbells Soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna. Her specialty was roasted potatoes, which she was excellent at, but the meat she cooked with it would be SO dry, it would turn to dust.

My dh is super picky now. His menu was so limited as a child, he's content with only two or three dinner choices for weeks at a time.

But he doesn't eat any of the things his mother used to cook. INstead he eats salads and stir-frys.

My kids eat what I put out, mostly. If they hate it, they have a sandwich or fix themselves something. However, we don't waste food, can't afford to. If they ask for or make themsleves something, I expect them to eat it, or we won't do that the next time.
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#134 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 12:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by captain optimism
I'm just saying, it's never too late to try new and tasty things.
You make is sound so easy. It isn't. Those attitudes & fears of trying new foods carry over & are hard to over come. It is just easier to eat what I am familiar with & is comfortable.
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#135 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 12:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Diaper_Addict_Jen
You make is sound so easy. It isn't. Those attitudes & fears of trying new foods carry over & are hard to over come. It is just easier to eat what I am familiar with & is comfortable.
I agree that having those attitudes about trying new foods are tough to get over, but sometimes you can. I was only able to do so for myself when I got older. I realized there was more to hamburger than spagetti sauce! And brussel sprouts don't have to taste bad.
My mom had a set of recipes she always made. She never really veered from this list when I was growning up. We were really never exposed to new foods. Just the same ole thing. And we were supposed to clean our plates.
(side note- my whole family struggles with weight problems... Makes you wonder?)
So now with our dd (24mo), my husband cooks most of the time, and he is a chef with no fear. He'll make just about anything, and makes it so well, that it is an adventure to eat. I am far worse at convincing to eat new things than our dd. I believed eggs shouldn't be sweet (like custards) but he got me over that. My dd doesn't fuss about what is put in front of her. If she likes it, she'll eat it. If she doesn't she leaves the table of her own accord. We never say eat it or try it. We let her decide, and mostly , she'll try anything and make up her mind. Also, when we serve her something new, we only give a little bit, then if she likes it, we'll giver her more.
From my eating history, I worry that she isn't eating, and sometimes she will wake in the middle of the night asking to eat.
So I always ask her if she wants (xyz one of her favs) and she says no. Then I go and make it, like pb&j, and she eats it even though she said no. We also have a tub of pasta in the fridge at all times for backup.
Does that seem like forcing her to eat? And when she gets up to eat in the middle of the night, I get her a piece of fruit and some milk. Nothing more.
I just don't want her to be hungry. Maybe its me.

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#136 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 12:36 PM
 
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I agree that having those attitudes about trying new foods are tough to get over, but sometimes you can.
Which is why I try to get my kids to try new things. MAny times they have liked it, even though they said it looked yucky.
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#137 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 12:42 PM
 
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my son is 22months and he rarely eats. Really. It sucks. It makes me crazy. It makes me break dishes and cry! He MAY eat one meal a day. I try to give him whatever he wants and I offer him option after option. But, as of late, I've just stopped trying to feed him. It's sad and it makes me soooo mad that he doesn't want to thrive. He just wants to nurse. ugh.
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#138 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Diaper_Addict_Jen
You make is sound so easy. It isn't. Those attitudes & fears of trying new foods carry over & are hard to over come. It is just easier to eat what I am familiar with & is comfortable.
I'm sorry.

I often wish my mom had been a better cook and less worried about weight issues, so that I wouldn't have such a troubled relationship with food myself.

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#139 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sun-shine01
Sorry to highjack the the post but my dd will refuse to eat almost ANYTHING for the evening meal - even things that she LOVES - instead she only wants to nurse about every 15 minutes for the rest of the evening and we/she satys up late so like every 15 minutes for 4 hours. She just turned 2. I don't know what to do anymore. I don't want to deny her nursing but I'm just about to loose my mind over the evening marathon nursing. I offer snacks and drinks all evening but she only wants the "Num Nums" Any advice greatly appreciate.

YES- That's my son too! He's 22months. Advice appreciated for sure! Well, actually Bay doesn't eat ANY meal ANY time of the day.
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#140 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:16 PM
 
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I should add that I cook new recipes all the time and ask my son to taste them. Sometimes it works and he loves the food other times he won't touch it and starts gagging. Newest thing he ate was a tamale, suprised me since he was anti-corn anything.

He also asks for my food. So if I have something that he turned his nose of to 3 minutes before and comes to me saying Ohhh yummy I happily give it to him in small pieces. Small works real well with my son for some reason. He also likes homemade foods better then prepared foods. He will eat my cream spinach but not touch store bought cream spinach. I also use lots of flavors, seasonings, spicies. I made a horseradish dip and my son loved it, go figure.

I totally believe it offering new foods all the time. Doesn't matter if they eat them but just to know hey here is another opition/flavor you might like.
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#141 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 01:18 PM
 
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I would trust that your child knows what he needs. Lots of kids with food allergies will behave this way. It's not that unusual and when he is ready he'll probably eat fine.
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#142 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 02:16 PM
 
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vegiemom, Could it be that your child is getting teeth? My dd was very affected by teeth and wouldn't eat much at all when she went through that. It was 2 full years of it. She also has food sensitivities so she picks and chooses what she wants.

I think my dd's problem to some degree is that I am not adventurous in my cooking and have a blah attitude about food. I don't love to eat. Also, since I became pg, I have really started to sympathize with her pickiness as I could tell just from a smell that I wouldn't like something. She has a strong sense of smell so I wouldn't doubt if that has something to do with it.
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#143 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 02:42 PM
 
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How do those who love to cook see the issue?
I LOVE to cook. I get great enjoyment from cooking. I find it relaxing and fun. However I also work FT out of the house. I plan my meals in advance to make things easier but after getting home and then spending 45 minutes or so re-connecting with my son I don't have a lot of time.

That said I am not a short order cook. We have family meals at least 5 days a week if not more where we all sit down together. I make one meal for all us. My son knows he doesn't have to eat if he doesn't want to but he is expected to join us. Its great ritual and illustrates to him that meals times are more than just about eating.

I am not an ogre though. I take all of our likes (and dislikes) into consideration. We eat lots and lots of "new" foods (meaning new to our 3 yo) but part of the meal always includes a tried and true favorite, even if it’s just bread and butter or rice. All new foods would be just too scary!

They say it takes a toddler about 7 or 8 times before they really taste and like something. The first couple of times they may just look at it. Then they might actually put into their mouths (and declare it yucky) and finally progressing to actually eating the item. The key is I never push, never insist on one more bite, never reward. Basically we don’t even talk about it at all.

So what do I do if he refuses to eat? Nothing. I know he won't starve. If he is hungry later on he can have a healthy snack. I treat snacks like a meal. They are a way to balance out the day/weeks nutrition.

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#144 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 03:21 PM
 
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It is just easier to eat what I am familiar with & is comfortable.
What's wrong with that? I'm assuming you live in a place where food is plentiful and you are able to choose what you eat each day. Why is it a problem to have a few old favorites rather than an ever-expanding array of foods?

Even in many other countries one may travel to, you can find standard favorites of American diets.

Not all people are meant to eat varied diets that include many "new" foods. Some are meant to stick with what works; some are meant to continuously expand.
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#145 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 03:29 PM
 
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Dd and ds do not have to eat anything they don't want to eat.

That said, I make one meal. If they are hungry, they eat it, if they don't they don't. They are good eaters and eat what we eat. If I make something new for dinner or something they don't like as much, I give them a small portion of that with the rest of the meal. I find this encourages them to try it (as opposed to staring at a whole bowl of something they've never seen or hate, then they get balky) and also sort of sends the message that things change and we eat new things sometimes, no biggie.

If they want to get down from the table, they may. They may come back up to their chairs if they decide they are hungry after all (which happens sometimes). I don't enforce a strict rule like they get one chance or something. But once the meal is over, it's over - plates get cleared.

fyi... I can count on one hand the number of times either of them has actually skipped a meal and it was because they were sick.
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#146 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 03:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Greaseball
What's wrong with that? I'm assuming you live in a place where food is plentiful and you are able to choose what you eat each day. Why is it a problem to have a few old favorites rather than an ever-expanding array of foods?
Because I eat in other places than my own home. I dread eating at other peoples houses. I know it is offensive when I say I don't like it.
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#147 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 03:40 PM
 
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Also, there seems to be a false dichotomy being set up that people who don't offer alternatives have adventerous eaters, and those that do offer alternatives have picky eaters. That is not the truth.
thats what it is seeming like to mean as i read, too...
I think a lot of it is the individual tastes of the child, which can be encouraged by offering lots of kinds and tastes of foods, but somtimes people are just picky no matter what they are exposed to. I dont think that parents have as much control as they'd like to think about creating adventurous eaters.
My ds eats a wide variety of foods, which I enjoy, too. We eat a lot of ethnic foods. I grew up with bland meat and potatoes, and the same foods every week, spaghetti was the one thing i liked. It did take a lot of trying, but gradually I got experiemental with my eating, and now I eat a vegetarian diet and LOVE Indian, thai, mexican, vietnamese, chinese foods..... I love spicy flavorful foods.... I never eat what I was raised on, other than pasta and salads. So, by the logic that you can create an adventurous eater by offering varied choices, then a picky eater could be created by not offering varied tastes and foods. But I did not become a picky eater.
I don't feel like parents can determine the tastes of their children, but they can make healthy foods available and the dc can choose what they like, without judgement. I just don't think there should be praise or criticism. Eating should be about sharing pleasant experiences, and for that IMO, you need to be able to choose what and when and how much you'd like to eat. I treat children that same way. Just because they are young doesnt automatically mean that they will be reckless with their choices. I think they also fill the subconcious expectation of their parent....

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#148 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 04:05 PM
 
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There isn't a reliable way of knowing how things would have been if your parents made you try new foods. Maybe you would be well-rounded and adventurous, always looking forward to new foods and able to find anything you like in any restaurant, or maybe you would be stubborn, with an eating disorder, and eat boxed macaroni every night.

When I'm a guest in someone's house I'm always asked what I would like to eat. Usually I'm expected to bring something I made, too.
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#149 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 06:43 PM
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I'm one of those "listen to your body" folks. I think often, when a child doesn't want to eat something, it's because his body is telling him not to. Perhaps he's sensitive to that food, or not ready to digest it, or allergic... whatever.

I'vBoth Rain and I tend to go on food "binges" - periods of days or weeks when we crave a certain food and eat a lot of it. I just got off an avocado binge - just had to have one or two a day for a couple of weeks. Now I'm over it, pretty much. I still like them but I don't crave them.

Rain is in the middle of an OJ binge. She normally is a very occasional OJ drinker, maybe once every month or two, but for the past couple of weeks she's gone through 3 or 4 glasses a day. I believe her body needs something in OJ. Denying her OJ because it wasn't on the dinner menu would mean denying her something her body is clearly saying that it needs - vitamin C, maybe, or maybe something else. I don't need to figure it out, I just need to let her listen to her own body.

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#150 of 267 Old 01-10-2005, 07:02 PM
 
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Dar and others, I think the point about cravings being valid indicators of nutritional need (and food aversions being indicators of allergy) is a good one. I also try to incorporate my kids' changing food cravings/aversions into meal planning when appropriate/possible.

I think where this gets tricky though is when you have a kid who just wants buttered noodles all the time, kwim? I know SO many kids like this. It never ends up being a phase, but a serious long-term issue with trying new things and shunning numerous healthy foods like fruits and more often vegetables. You could have the worst food allergy in the world and you still need to eat something more than buttered noodles for weeks on end.

So while I would pay attention to my kids' food fixations and do breakfasts that included bananas for a while if that's what they were really into (in fact, my dd just got off of a serious banana bender, where she ate 1-2 a day for a week LOL!), I would be careful about letting that transgress into "I want buttered toast for breakfast.... and nothing else.... ever." (and they eat nothing but crackers and pasta and bread all day after that, no less) Furthermore, just because dd was really into bananas, didn't mean she just ate bananas for breakfast and that was it. She got bananas sliced onto her oatmeal... bananas sliced into yogurt... bananas sliced on the side.... etc. etc.

I hope this makes sense but I'm not sure I'm explaining it well.
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