How do you deal with food issues when friends are over? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 02-02-2012, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 I cook healthy meals from scratch and serve them to my kids, if they eat it -great. If they don't eat it, no big deal, but I don't serve them anything else. 6 YO DS has a friend who comes over a couple times a month. He is a pleasant boy, polite, respectful to us, but he is a very picky eater. Some meals he doesn't eat a thing that I serve and asks me for certain other foods. I usually tell him that is all I'm serving. But he'll come to me after an hour and ask for a snack. Or he might wait until his parent comes to pick him up and say he's really hungry. Should I cater to his food desires? He puts me in an awkward position and I don't like it.

 

I should add that I let my kids eat "fun" foods, they get snacks, deserts sometimes, junk food sometimes. But if my kid skips lunch because he didn't like it then asks for a chocolate luna bar an hour later the answer is no.


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#2 of 21 Old 02-02-2012, 09:50 PM
 
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Are there healthy foods he asks for or is it really a chocolate bar he wants? I tend to give snacks to my dd's friends when they ask because they are guests and it is their parents job to guide them through food issues not mine. I also ask what kinds of food they like and try to make things they like because that is what we do for guests in our family. You son's friend might be picky but that doesn't mean there is nothing healthy he likes for lunch or as a snack. If it is too much of an issue though then I suggest changing the time you invite him at so you don't have a hungry child begging for food to deal with.
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#3 of 21 Old 02-03-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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I'd ask his mom what foods he typically eats, including what brands. Then I'd make sure I had a few of those things around and serve something he liked as part of the meal that I also found acceptable for my own kids. That way you know you are serving something he will eat if he is actually hungry and you can comfortably not worry about whether he eats or not. 

 

My ds was very picky because he had some aversions to certain textures. He was also very sensitive to flavors which made it difficult to even switch brands of ketchup. Meals at other people's houses were tricky because I didn't want to bring foods that I knew they didn't want to feed their own kids but to get my own child to eat in a social situation, the food had to be very desirable. Now that he is older, he doesn't fall apart if he doesn't eat for a long time but it used to be a problem.

 

When I have guests, adult or child, I like to set a good example to ds that we try to make them comfortable, feed them foods that they like, use our toys, etc. 


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#4 of 21 Old 02-04-2012, 05:58 AM
 
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I understand what it is to be a picky kid (I was one).  Unfamiliar food at someone else's house can be really, really hard to deal with.  I'm sure the food you cook for your family is familiar to them, and I'm sure you tend to make things that you think they would like or tolerate.  Your ds's friend is not in the same boat as them (ie. the food is not necessarily something he is used to eating or normally likes), and I think it's unreasonable to expect him to conform to your family's rules on meals.  Especially since it is so difficult for him to eat that he ends up going hungry.  I wouldn't feel comfortable with a little kid going hungry at my house.

 

What I would do in that situation is what a pp suggested.  Ask his parents for a couple of simple ideas of things he likes.  I don't think you need to go to elaborate lengths to accommodate him, but you could probably whip up a PB&J pretty easily.  I'd rather a guest in my house was made to feel comfortable (physically and emotionally) than stick rigidly to "the rules".  Or rather, I think that this is one case in which I would bend the rules.  It's not like you're letting him get away with doing unsafe things, be mean to other kids, destroy the house or anything like that.  You're just simply making sure that a little kid gets some food in his belly.


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#5 of 21 Old 02-04-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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I would make something I thought he would like.  I often make more "kid" meals when other kids are going to be over.  If he's only over occasionally then I wouldn't think it would be a big deal that one the night friend is over maybe you eat something that other kid likes.

 

I also would not ask a guest to "go hungry" at my house.  I would rather feed a kid, even snacks, than let the kid go hungry.  Frankly I almost always have millions of snacks out when my kid has friends over because some kids get hungry and are nervous about asking for something to eat.  I don't really care if they fill up on apples, oranges, crackers, cheese, carrots, mini pb&j sandwiches and raisins and don't eat the "meal."

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#6 of 21 Old 02-04-2012, 12:56 PM
 
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These are some great ideas above. 

 

I, too cook almost exclusively from scratch and we don't eat any foods with additives/preservatives/colorings/flavorings while dd's cousins... that is about all they eat.  But what I do is make foods that are familiar to them, but just made from scratch.  They love chicken nuggets and fries.  I just make them myself.  They like chips and dip, I get out my mandoline and slice the chips and make the dip.  They like quesadillas and it's interesting to see the tortillas being made and the chicken being cooked, etc.  A few things we just won't buy, and that is partly because we don't eat it (like hot dogs and bologna) and partly because we feel that our dollars should not be spent on something that we don't agree with ethically.  But I manage to find something every time that they enjoy in spite of their once-a-day-McDonald's habit.  I have even gotten them to eat fish from a whole grilled fish... head and all with eyes staring up at them.  They though it was a hoot learning how to filet the fish, pick out the pin bones, and get the spine and head pulled off all attached.  It was almost like playing with your food.  So, making the food fun helps.  Another thought is that we like to do bento lunches here.  These kids, who don't like eggs or rice at all, will eat them when they're formed into cute little shapes.  There are tricks you can use without compromising your principles, I think.

 

Another thing to remember... if kids eat a lot of processed foods, they are eating a TON of sodium and HFCS.  Salt masks the "off" flavors of the chemicals, so they are tasting a lot of salt in their foods.  You are probably under-salting his food for his tastes if this little guy eats a lot of packaged, processed food.  Maybe you could salt his food a little more when serving.  The HFCS makes foods super sweet, so some things may not be sweet enough for him.  When people at work bring take out in, I always ask for their leftover condiment packets so I have more mainstream condiments in the house for the cousins.

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#7 of 21 Old 02-04-2012, 01:38 PM
 
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Is there something easy to put on the side that he likes, like a slice of buttered bread? That way he doesnt have to go hungry but you dont have to go out of your way.


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#8 of 21 Old 02-04-2012, 06:14 PM
 
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I was thinking of this thread tonight because we had friends over for dinner. I think of kid guests the way I think of grown up guests. For I instance many of the guests to our house are vegan so obviously I make completely or partially vegan meals.

Dp is not fond of several vegetables. I am not going to make an entire meal of beets, brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Tonight I made chili. The kids had rice with butter, beans with cheese, biscuits, my ds also had frozen peas and corn (he likes them still frozen) and cherry tomatoes, but his friend doesn't like those so I didn't put them on her plate. They both requested tortillas to turn their food into burritos (fine by me). Grownups had chili which was a bit too spicy for these particular kids (might be fine for other kids). If the kids had remembered they would have gotten frozen berries and yogurt later (they didn't ask and I forgot to offer).

I always try to make stuff that can be served as 'parts' especially when other kids are around. So soup or stew or casseroles have their ingredients separated out and served that way instead of all mixed up (which seems in general to get a better reception from kids).
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#9 of 21 Old 02-05-2012, 07:38 PM
 
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Our rule is that you get whats served, and if you don't eat it but get hungry later, your only choice is to eat any veggie we have on hand, or sometimes a fruit is fine too if you haven't had too much that day already.  

 

I keep cut up, easy to grab and eat veggies in the fridge at all times, so ds knows what he can have. 

 

So far, hasn't been an issue with his friends coming over as they all seem fine eating organic, vegetarian, dairy free food that we have here, (many eat that way at home anyway).  BUT if it ever comes up, I'd just do the same as I would for my own ds. 

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#10 of 21 Old 02-06-2012, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I will try asking his mom what he likes. But even things he asks for sometimes he won't eat, and it makes me frustrated. One morning he asked for toast with jelly and a hard boiled egg, I gave it to him and he ate a few bites of each and then asked me what else I had for breakfast. It was white bread and regular sugar jelly, not the more natural stuff I usually have around. Then I gave him an apple and he took a few bites and left 

 

The next question I have is: how do I enforce my rules for my kids while giving him what he wants? 


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#11 of 21 Old 02-06-2012, 01:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Punchy Kaby View Post

I will try asking his mom what he likes. But even things he asks for sometimes he won't eat, and it makes me frustrated. One morning he asked for toast with jelly and a hard boiled egg, I gave it to him and he ate a few bites of each and then asked me what else I had for breakfast. It was white bread and regular sugar jelly, not the more natural stuff I usually have around. Then I gave him an apple and he took a few bites and left 

 

The next question I have is: how do I enforce my rules for my kids while giving him what he wants? 


If he didn't seem to have a real problem with the food, I'd probably just remind him he was here to play and to go play if he was done his toast and egg. I understand and sympathize with kids who have sensitive palates but if you really don't think he is having that sort of issue, than it's fine to say that's all for now. I don't give kids whole apples because I get really annoyed with how they just eat a couple of bites. I'll eat after my own kid and finish the apple but not after someone else's kid so I'm faced with saving the partially eaten apple and having to plan to bake something with it.

 

Kids do tend to understand that rules are different when you have guests or rules for guests are a little different.

 


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#12 of 21 Old 02-06-2012, 07:21 PM
 
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Requesting food then not wanting it is different than getting served food you don't want. In these types of situations I tell the child what will be available after they finish the food they asked for, especially if they are over often and the food is one they have told me they like. If they are being slow to eat it I do try to notice and see if I can spruce it up a little. I also try to offer things sliced up on a plate in the middle of the table to avoid the waste issue. I tend to bend the rules a little for my DD when friends come over and I tell her it is just an exception for when the guest is over. She gets that distinction easily and has never had an issue with going back to normal when the guest is gone.
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#13 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 07:11 AM
 
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Requesting food then not wanting it is different than getting served food you don't want. In these types of situations I tell the child what will be available after they finish the food they asked for, especially if they are over often and the food is one they have told me they like.


Although sometimes the problem is the requested food is a little off, the jam is the unexpected flavor, etc. That sort of thing would have resulted in my ds having one or two bites and then saying he was full (to give an acceptable excuse for not finishing it). Then he'd be hungry in short order.

 

Another idea for the OP is to ask the mom to send a snack. Just tell her you don't always seem to have foods her ds likes and ask her to send a snack as backup, just in case. That way you can tell him he can eat what he has requested/been served or he can have the snack mom sent.

 

I'm guessing this kid is on the young side. It sounds like he might just be into exploring the host's kitchen offerings. My ds never did that because he was wary of other people's food and was more interested in playing when he had a playmate available. But other kids who are foodies seem to really focus on food when they go to other people's houses. I'm glad my ds has gotten to the age where every blessed get together doesn't have to involve food!

 


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#14 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 07:33 AM
 
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I'm not buying special snacks or making special meals for a picky kid.  I don't do that for my own child and I'm not going to explain to her why Picky Friend gets some kind of special treatment (or give her the idea that if she's at someone else's house, it's just fine to refuse food and hold out in hopes of something better).  Not happening.  When we have kids over, I don't serve exactly challenging food even if it's on my kid's list of favorites - so no raw oysters and steamed artichokes or anything.  If Picky Kid doesn't want what we're having, he or she can wait till snack rolls around and try again then.  Our snacks are pretty basic - any fruit we happen to have, yogurt, cheese, maybe popcorn - any of those would be fine and most kids will eat one or a combination.  I'm not heartless, I won't go out of my way to serve broccoli to the kid I know hates broccoli, but here are usually enough neutral/familiar things to choose from that a hungry kid will find SOMETHING.  I know a few kids who only drink soda, I'm not going to start keeping Coke around for kids.

 

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#15 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 07:38 AM
 
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I was very very picky when I was younger, and I often was very hungry at my friends houses, to the point where sometimes I just preferred to stay home, or would ask to go home because I was hungry (I was too shy to ask for something else to eat a lot of the time, though). It was a big source of anxiety for me. Anyway, my best friends mom always made these healthy, wholesome meals that I'm sure I would love now, but at the time I hated. She would always just say "I'm making ____ for lunch, would you like that or would you like ____ instead?" She knew the few foods I would always eat, so she wouldn't make a big deal out of it or offer me all kinds of different foods, she would just offer me one thing that she knew I liked.

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#16 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 08:25 AM
 
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I find myself in this situation with my own friends, I can't imagine what's going to happen when daughter starts bring people home!  My friends are aware of what isn't available at my home...soda, for example.  They are reminded to bring soda if they want it.   I do keep my guests in mind;  when non-pork eaters come, I don't serve pork, even though we are some pork-eating idiots in this house.  I don't go crazy and stock my pantries with a bunch of stuff I'll never eat, but I do make sure that everyone that comes to eat gets something nice to eat.  I second the suggestion that you ask what the young guest will like, and have just a little bit of that on hand, or a reasonable sub.  Maybe your own kids can enjoy Picky Kids snack with him?  I would just hate to think that Picky Kid would stop coming to play just because s/he can't find anything to eat.  Picky Kid's own fault, I don't deny, but it would be sad if that was the outcome.

 

 


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#17 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 08:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by RStelle View Post

I was very very picky when I was younger, and I often was very hungry at my friends houses, to the point where sometimes I just preferred to stay home, or would ask to go home because I was hungry (I was too shy to ask for something else to eat a lot of the time, though). It was a big source of anxiety for me.


 

Yes, this was me exactly!  I was shy like that too.

 

Now, especially when dealing with someone else's kid, I always err on the side of caution (ie. I assume it really is too difficult for them to eat the food, rather than they are just trying to get away with not eating something or are holding out for something even better or whatever), because it was really such a source of anxiety for me as a kid.  I wasn't *trying* to be picky.  I would have loved to feel comfortable eating anything put in front of me.  But I just really wasn't.  Unfamiliar food was scary to me.  If you weren't v. picky as a child or you don't have a v. picky child you might not realize how hard it can be for the child.

 

ETA  - I also wanted to mention that in my case it was not at all a case of being used to super processed foods or only soda to drink or anything like that.  Some people seem to be making that assumption about the kid in the OP, but we don't know if that's what's going on.  For me it was that I only liked really simple foods.  And, unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of variety in what I felt comfortable eating. 

 

 


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#18 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 09:24 AM
 
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I would make something I know he likes.  Then, I'd always add a piece of butter bread, because most kids like that enough to at least eat that.

 

But, then, I wouldn't worry about it.  If you are not serving grilled trout and asparagus, I would assume he can find SOMETHING on the plate he likes.  Be fun and kid friendly.  But, don't go through your whole pantry to find something he likes.  

 

I serve one meal, it has many components but, I don't offer backup meals for picky eaters.

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#19 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 09:58 AM
 
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we have problems with picky eaters. i dread them coming to my house bc they starve! my one neice only eats white bread. ok so i buy white bread when she's staying for more than a night. no, only the white bread with the girl on it (sunbeam) ugh. it drives me crazy that their parents allowed this to get as bad as it did. these are all kids used to eating boxed mac-n-cheese, corn dogs, ramen noodles, pop tarts, nuggets...just crap for every meal to where they are "picky" and won't eat anything else. the parents never bothered having healthy foods. then here are my 3 kids who will eat just about anything anyone cooks. i recently found out my 16 year old didn't like brussels sprouts, she just kept eating them bc she always ate them! we all are used to eating things we don't like. the rule with my kids is to eat one bite of everything at each meal.(i do make exceptions! i don't torture the kids :) i have seen over the years they grow to love foods they didn't before. anyway, to answer the question, for really small kids i'd find out before the visit what foods i need and hope the parent is right (they won't all admit their kid is picky), or even ask the parent to send food. for a bit older kid, i'd ask my child to discuss what to have with the guest, that way they are both in on it. they will agree on something and your child will not feel left out. if he is old enough to cook, then put them all to work :) i've had a group of teens cooking dinner here a few times.


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#20 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 10:08 AM
 
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the kids did have a friend with quite a few food allergies that took me awhile to figure out what all she could eat without asking her mom first or making the friend feel awkward but after a year of her spending the night i got it all figured out. also she could cook so i'd let her and my older daughters cook dinner. that way, she could go through the freezer and pantry to read ingredients AND there wasn't the embarassment to her of being asked if she can have this and this or this... she wasn't picky at all and slipped and ate alot that she shouldn't have!


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#21 of 21 Old 02-07-2012, 10:43 AM
 
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Hospitality is hard, isn't it?  I think you went to a reasonable length when you made him a breakfast and then gave him the apple as an extra.  The food was good, it was good for him, he ate a bit of it...I would call that a success.  Would I go far and above that next time?  No.  When we have other people's children over, I have raw fruit and veg, hummus, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, applesauce, pickles, olives and cinnamon toast or nutella as my go to foods.  I usually make up a platter daily for my kiddos with all these items, and if other kids are over they can have some too.  If they don't like any of that...then they can wait for mom.  I've made a reasonable effort to make sure there is something for them to eat...and remember, a person only needs to eat a portion of food the size of their fist to be satisfied...so in reality, they don't need to be stuffed to the gills with their favorite food for you to have been a good host.  Most children love warm tea with honey and toast usually.  

 

I would not go out and buy a special food that I would not normally feed to my own children, for one of their friends.  If when they are teens and they have a best friend that becomes part of our family regularly, then I would find an acceptable food that the friend likes and that I wouldn't mind having regularly and I would add it to our lives.  Until then, what I normally have is good food, whole foods, and if the friend's turn their noses up at it, that is their choice and I have not failed them.  You haven't either.  Reasonable effort, a few bites...success.  Fistful portions.

 

 


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