My daughter is 3 and a half, and used to be a great eater; she would eat anything. But now she's becoming fussy and won't eat things that she used to like. It doesn't help that she's given junk food by her granny, which seems to be something she loves. We eat no junk food, sweets or gluten in our house, but she's just getting more awkward.
I have been giving her a less interesting alternative when she refuses her lunch, but I'm very tempted to start giving her the choice of what I've made or nothing. Do you think this is a good idea? Is she liable to continue refusing it despite being hungry? Or will she start eating what she's giving once she realises there's no choice? I was always so proud of the fact that she would eat anything, so now I'm not sure what to do! I'm about to make a fish pie for lunch, which she always refuses without having even tried it. I would like to give her that as the only choice, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. Any advice would be appreciated.
I seriously just taught a class on this and would be happy to send you the link to it to listen online (it was a free class anyway). And I tried all the stuff I learned/researched in the process of preparing for it. Ellyn Satter is an awesome resource for this, too (a huge chunk of my research was based on her work) and she has a site, but it's not laid out in a good step-by-step manner for getting your kids to eat.
There's more to the process, but to nutshell the part that might help you at the moment: to some extent this is a control issue rather than a "doesn't like the food" issue.
PM me if you want the link.
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that fit your family...
it all depends on what you yourself can handle. i have noticed my dd going through phases of eating. sometimes she is v. picky, sometimes she is not. as she grew older and was able to identify why her loved food is now her most hated food - they all taste bitter. she cant stand bitter these days. so being a good eater, then fussy, then good is i think a normal phase.
the thing is i just cook one thing and give dd the 'have this or go to bed hungry'. perhaps coz its just dd and me making my food options suit hers is not such a problem.
as dd has grown up and she discovered nutrition, she is more particular about foods but the fussiness is still there (heck its the same with me).
i have however always encouraged the no thank you bite. you take one bite and you dont even have to swallow it.
however i can do this because i dont buy into the present attitude towards nutrition and the idea that we know better about our chldren's nutrition than they know themselves.
one thing i have done is make sure i offer dd a variety of choices. always from day one. so she doesnt just eat what's available at our grocery store. she also has access to wild foods, and farmers market veggies and asian veggies too. so when she goes off certain food, there are always other choices available that she will eat.
plus their tastes change. as a child she could not eat spicy food - indian, ethiopian or mexican. but the moment she hit 4 she started loving spicy food and ask for spicy food.
I hadn't realised I had got replies, so I'm a bit delayed. The main problem is that she eats the potatoes and nothing else. And she isn't currenty a fan of many vegetables either. The one thing she is guaranteed to eat is chilli, but other than that it's mostly potatoes, which is not a healthy choice. I'm currently not giving her a choice, but having read your reply Meemee, I wonder if a choice is maybe a good option. The problem is, I worry that it'll make her more fussy and picky.
I have just ordered a set of food cutters, and I'm going to use them to make vegetables and other food look more appealing. I don't know if it'll work, but it's worth a go and will make meal time more fun for her. It's all very frustrating.
Why isn't potatoes a healthy choice? I've read somewhere that there are whole nations who survived on potatoes to go through terrible diseases and had healthy and strong offspring.
I agree with you, we would all like our kids to eat their broccoli and salads, but in my experience it doesn't always work. If she likes potatoes, I would let her have as much as she wants, but I would not serve only potatoes. I would rotate meals, have potatoes one evening, other type of vegetable the next and so on, so she gets exposed to different foods.
My ds would only eat salads if he could. Dd on the other hand doesn't eat raw vegetables but she loves soups. Does your dd eat fruits? Fruits and veggies are in the same food group, so if she eats fruits I wouldn't worry about vegetables.
hey if she eats chilli that is fantastic. make vegetarian chilli and put lots of different veggies in it with beans. OR make your regular chilli and add veggies in small pieces in it.
if she will eat potatoes, try using that as a base to make different things. like boil potatoes, add some cooked veggies to it like leaves, greens and coloured veggies, mix them all up, throw in some spices make balls and lightly fry them and see what she thinks.
having my dd i find we tend to downplay taste. and eating philosophy. it seems with your dd mixed foods might work instead of one at a time.
also i think most of us dont really know how to cook veggies (general statement - not saying that about you). get good veggies, cook them well however you want - think different flavors - make it look good while presenting, or offer a hummus dip and see.
while experimenting you yourself might discover something about your dd's eating habits.
if all of this fails, then be prepared. i would assume food allergies and look out for them.
another idea. try going harvesting at veggie patches and fruit orchards. sit on a blanket and see if you can eat it right there (if it doesnt need cooking). you'd be surprised what they would eat outside.
look around you. do YOU guys eat a variety of food that she sees you eat? you all should be eating food together not cook something separately for dd and something separate for you.
start slow and dont expect a lot out of her.
Thanks for the replies! I don't mind her eating potatoes, but when it's the only thing she'll eat it's not the most nutritious of things. We do all eat together and eat the same things, but there are certain things she just won't eat much of. She does seem to eat curry though, which is good. The biggest problem is veg; it I make a vegetarian meal, she won't even touch it. I was talking to a friend today and she was saying that her daughter is doing the same, so I'm assuming it must be a phase.
I would not make a child go without food because they didn't want fish pie.
I would not do that to anyone. If I was making you lunch, and know you don't want fish pie, I would not make fish pie for you. I would make something that you would enjoy.
All plant based foods are vegetables. (If it's not a mineral or animal, it's a vegetable.) The part of a plant that has a seed is the fruit. Avocados, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, are all fruits. Pineapple is a vegetable.
Fruits and vegetables of similar color often have similar nutrients. Watermelons are just as healthy as tomatoes. Kiwi is just as green as spinach. I am sure there are plenty of foods your kid likes. It is okay if her preferences are unconventional.
Offer something that she likes every time she's hungry, and everything should be fine.
The thing is she does like it. I wouldn't give her something if I knew she didn't like it, that would be silly. She has since tried it, and even says she likes it but decides not to eat it anyway. And I knew she would like it as it has all the things she loves in it.
I don't really agree with this. There are many kids who would live on chicken nuggets and french fries if they had the choice.
I think it's important for a child to be exposed to different foods that the family eats. It's also easier for the cook; I know some moms who make a different meal for almost every member of the family.
I wouldn't "make" a child eat something she doesn't like, I would include something she can eat on the table. But I don't find it useful for anyone to prepare something special for the child while everyone else eats the same meal.
AHA!!! personal independence.
This is an important place to connect with your dd. first make sure you are not repeating the dish too often (sounds like she might be the child who wants something new every time). second sit and talk to her. i did with my 3 year old (when she wasnt tired and hungry) and i'd say 'look i am very tired. i've had a long hard day at work. i am sorry i cant give you anything else right now. this is all i could make. but i promise you i wont offer you the same thing tomorrow. so i'd be very grateful if you ate this today and tomorrow you and i will cook together and see what you like." you will be surprised how your child responds - provided you ARE telling the truth. i've tried to pull that one on a sunday and she didnt fall for it.
Also be aware their tastebuds are not the same as us. they change. so factor that in to. my dd who LOVED oatmeal - would have it for bfast, lunch and dinner now wont touch it. its too slimy she says. she also goes to taste buds ups and downs. so she loves kiwis. for a while we got yellow kiwis and she could not eat them. this candy loving child found the kiwi too sweet. so her sweet taste buds were too sensitive then (she rarely eats candy and soda so i never thought of experimenting and making her have some).
i am writing you this tome just to be aware of certain things that i find are not really talked about. there are so many nuances to eating and taste and personal will.
Thanks for that Meemee, makes a lot of sense! I'm definitely going to try that next time.
I don't want to give her too much of a choice as I know that that can lead to even more fussiness, and I don't want her to end up eating the same thing every day. If she had her way it would be chilli every day and night! I do give her as much variety as possible, but when it comes to vegetables she's not so keen. Although I has some success the other night with a vegetable she usually avoids. I made courgette (zucchini) noodles and served them in spaghetti bolognese. I didn't tell her that it was courgette and not pasta, so she ate the whole lot, I think because it was a fun shape.
But I will take everyone's suggestions on board as there's a lot of great advice here. Thanks again for all the help!
I think that when I was catering to my dd because I didn't want to make food a battle I was inadvertently making eating a battle and that my pulling out made my dd feel the control she needed to feel in regards to eating.
Getting her involved with meal plans sounds like a great idea; I'll definitely start doing that. We are also low on the income front so want to waste as little as possible. Although we're lucky; we can give our scraps to the chickens which means less money spent on feed. But I really like your idea One_Girl, I think that may work well for us as she likes to be involved in these sorts of things.