Desperate for a Change in our Dinnertime/Eating! - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 51 Old 12-22-2013, 02:58 PM
 
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hey- I was actually thinking about this a lot last night and did finally go to that website. I see what you mean about being less firm. I wrote that before I had processed what you wrote and before I read the website.

 

I think there are good ideas on there. Today I was more relaxed about it!

 

I think a lot of it is a learning process for me on how to be a parent! things like eating sleeping and so many other catagories of parenting have their learning curve. I appreciate your information and will think aobut it and try it.

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#32 of 51 Old 12-22-2013, 06:25 PM
 
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My philosophy:  Mom chooses what to eat and when to eat.  Kid chooses how much (if any) to eat.  

 

I do respect preferences for taste and texture, but just because a child dislikes something doesn't mean it won't occasionally be served.  There's always plenty of side dishes to eat if the main dish is unappealing. 

 

Your children will not starve themselves to the point of harm (exceptions granted for those with severe psychological/physical/emotional issues).  If a meal is served and they choose to eat three bites, or no bites, then that's fine.  They'll have a meal or snack again in a few hours and they can choose to eat something then.  Eventually, they will eat. 

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#33 of 51 Old 12-27-2013, 02:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by luckymamaoftwo View Post
 

Also, one thing I keep reading is that we shouldn't only give dessert on nights when they've eaten well. Rather, they should be able to have dessert even after a "poor" dinner because otherwise we're reinforcing the idea the two points that you numbered above. Just wondering how you handle the sweets thing?

I don't have any first-hand experience, only what my parents did and comparing to what my in laws did:

I don't think desserts are necessary. We didn't do dessert every night. We don't do dessert every night now as adults, and I have no intention of doing it when our kids are old enough for it to be relevant. My parents also never made dessert a big deal- one time, when I was little, I asked to have ice cream for breakfast. They let me. I've grown up not super interested in dessert because it isn't something "special", it's just another variety of food.

 

If you don't want to use desserts as a reward, even accidentally, you don't have to do them. Keep them as a special occasion/when the mood strikes you thing.

 

If you're offering healthy enough desserts, it also may help to look at them as another course rather than a "reward" or something "special". Someone talked about offering it with the meal- which seems like a good way to do it. As people have mentioned, some kids are more willing to eat "gross" food if they can immediately wash out the taste with something yummy. You can make/get things like cake and frozen things that are fairly healthy. Just treat the sweet stuff as part of the meal. If your kids only eat fruit and no vegetables- at least they're getting something into their belly and it's something relatively healthy.  Especially if you're worried about your kids' weight.

 

Also- I have serious stomach problems that makes food really tricky. There tends to be a long list of foods I can't eat and that list can change. I'm still able to eat relatively healthily, I haven't faced any problems due to malnutrition. I take vitamins, but this is mostly for peace of mind- I don't know if they have any value. I don't know if this is what's going on with your kids- but if it is, it makes things very difficult because it takes a long time to learn to listen to your body and recognize "I don't like the taste of this, but it won't cause any problems for me and it's healthy so I should eat it" vs "This will make me sick".

 

I really agree with leaving certain things out as snacks that they can graze on throughout the day- if you're playing a game that isn't too messy, you can keep it nearby as well, things like that. My dad had a lot of success with this method. It gives kids control over what they eat and when and presents the options without any pressure from the parents. Friends who refused to eat their vegetables at home would happily munch carrots and broccoli because dad would just leave it around as an option.

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I wanted to add that my way isn't really working! I had offered that when for a short while ds was eating more foods he otherwise did not in exchange for dessert.

But the realty now is I just plain let him eat too much sweets and just plain do not enforce he eat some of the healthier food. Same with letting him drink too much juice and not enough water. so right now he has this (very mild light pink- to others it looks like rosy cheek but to me I can se it has a bumpy texture) 'rash' on his cheeks I am thinking is diet related.

I have no idea if this will help or not, but:

 

Water has always made me sick. It gives me a stomachache. If I drink it while exercising, I tend to get dizzy. If I'm completely parched (say- from running around, a long walk on a hot day, etc)- I can drink it so long as it's COLD without ill-effect, but that's the only time. I don't remember if I ever told my parents this, if I did I was too little to remember (I imagine I did as I can't remember water being seriously pushed on me- it was an option, but that was it, and my mom always drank water and was TOTALLY the type to try and get me to drink more if she didn't know not to).

 

I have no idea if this is what's going on with your son- but, as you can imagine, I've never had a lot of water. I'd suggest watering down the juice. I can't drink water, but I can drink watered down drinks, and I really don't like full potency drinks because my stomach is also sensitive to sugar and acid. When I make apple juice for myself, from condensed, I do over twice as much water. So the amount I drink over a day comes out to the same as 2 or 3 glasses of straight water and a glass of apple juice- even though I had three or four glasses of juice.

 

If you already are watering it down- just push it. See how far you can push the water:juice ratio before he'll turn his nose up at it and periodically check to see if he'll take it a little bit more watered down. Give it at the strength he'll normally take it with a few ice cubes.

 

Look into teas and other such drinks as well. For real tea (as opposed to herbal, although I suppose herbal as well)- you can steep it, (maybe make a cup for yourself ;) ) then make him a cup using the same bag- it's weaker, and also gets rid of most of the  caffeine.


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#34 of 51 Old 12-27-2013, 07:53 PM
 
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I am going to make a leap here, in kindness and with empathy, but also tough love. You have two issues I see: BEHAVIOR and FOOD. I could be wrong, but the two close families I know who also avoid restaurants and guests at dinner have a lack of control in general over their kids. Seeing your child in a public places is a great acid test for how parenting is going. So uh...how is your discipline? My best lesson was 'the voice of god' (speaking each word of a direction separately and distinctly in ominous quiet while looking them in the eye at their level). On the food front, kefir cream mixed in yogurt is a great way to get weight on. Recipes abound on Google, very simple. Breaking apart meals into all the parts unmixed has been my grace: think rise bowl with beans, cabbage, tofu, peanut sauce...I have various small strategies for food but no miracles. I will say both my friends with kids like yours are largely solo, have kids fairly close together, and are naturally kind women who find firm discipline difficult. I see their wild kids as the absence of support; they cannot rise to the level of brainstorming manners when they are just trying to get the laundry done. How is your support? How is your sleep? Try picnics with low resistance food to find some joy again. Good luck to you!
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#35 of 51 Old 12-27-2013, 08:07 PM
 
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I didn't mean to hijak op's thread/ We are doing somewhat better.

I have been stressing less about it.

Allowing less sweets.

And just trying my best--- and not worrying too much if he doesn't eat what I make.(or I mean if he doesn't eat what I offer first- ) (he eats plenty we are just ironing out the when and what of it)

I feel quite a bit better about it somehow than I did before, just feeling like I don'tneed to worry about it quite so much as I did.

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#36 of 51 Old 12-27-2013, 08:36 PM
 
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I don't have time to read every response, but I wanted to say that eliminating snacks is important to kids having a healthy appetite for a meal. I don't understand how a kid can eat nothing at most meals and not be hungry... Unless she is filling up on snacks.

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#37 of 51 Old 12-27-2013, 09:02 PM
 
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I don't have time to read every response, but I wanted to say that eliminating snacks is important to kids having a healthy appetite for a meal. I don't understand how a kid can eat nothing at most meals and not be hungry... Unless she is filling up on snacks.


It depends on the situation. If the kid is snacking and not eating because they aren't hungry- I agree.  I could be wrong, but it sounds like the OP only gives a late night snack because otherwise the kids wake up from hunger- although if they're grazing throughout the day, that may be the problem.

 

But some kids will simply refuse to eat. Anorexia has been diagnosed in kids as young as 7, and there are many other eating dysfunctions in childhood and even infancy. There are also children who will refuse to eliminate until they require surgery, kids who'll refuse to sleep, etc- children are not always good at meeting their own needs. That's why they need parents. When a child is losing weight/not gaining weight/unhealthily thin- the problem is not filling up on snacks!

 

When a child is refusing to eat at mealtimes, an unhealthy weight, showing signs of not eating enough- snacking may be the only way to get enough nutrition into the kid.


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#38 of 51 Old 12-28-2013, 08:19 AM
 
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I'm rooting for you Snapdragon!

 

I wanted to share what's our approach to sweets - if it's any help to you. It helped my kids and *me* to be balanced in our eating.

I have a sweet tooth. Until adulthood I alternated between banning sweets from my house completely, then gorging on them when I was too deprived.

Now I keep sweets in the house and serve dessert every day, because it's something we enjoy. But I limit desserts to one portion only a day. It's the only thing I limit as far as food is concerned, and dk caught up on this rule pretty quickly (one portion of dessert only, not conditioned on what and how much they eat).

I am now able to avoid a lot of hassle (like dk negociating the number of bites they have to eat to "earn" dessert, or them begging for seconds on dessert, or asking for sweets between meals).

 

Also, I periodically serve unlimited sweets as a snack, so the sweets don't compete with other foods. I bake a batch of cookies and put a plate of warm cookies with milk on the table and we all sit down and enjoy. I found that after a while they lose their appeal as forbidden food. Ds - who has a sweet tooth just like me - takes just a couple of cookies, and dd sometimes refuses sweets altogether.


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#39 of 51 Old 12-28-2013, 08:24 AM
 
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It depends on the situation. If the kid is snacking and not eating because they aren't hungry- I agree.  I could be wrong, but it sounds like the OP only gives a late night snack because otherwise the kids wake up from hunger- although if they're grazing throughout the day, that may be the problem.

 

But some kids will simply refuse to eat. Anorexia has been diagnosed in kids as young as 7, and there are many other eating dysfunctions in childhood and even infancy. There are also children who will refuse to eliminate until they require surgery, kids who'll refuse to sleep, etc- children are not always good at meeting their own needs. That's why they need parents. When a child is losing weight/not gaining weight/unhealthily thin- the problem is not filling up on snacks!

 

When a child is refusing to eat at mealtimes, an unhealthy weight, showing signs of not eating enough- snacking may be the only way to get enough nutrition into the kid.


I agree with you, but if a child has medical issues, he/she and the parents need professional help. In the rare cases when the child has an illness - that you mentioned in your post, advice given on a parenting forum will not help.


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#40 of 51 Old 12-28-2013, 10:13 AM
 
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The number one thing that helps me with DD at the dinner table is make sure she is really hungry come dinnertime. No snacks. It's hard when she's all sweet-eyes and "Mama I'm hungry" but I stand my ground, "No food until dinner time". Then she eats and all the annoying behaviour stops - at least until she is full. 

 

The second thing, and this is not just about food, what ever you make into a problem becomes a problem. DP and I are learning as we go: whenever we start worrying about a certain "topic", it's as if DD by some sixth sense picks up on it and the whole thing spirals into a big problem, a power struggle with a lot of frustration. It is very very hard to apply (at least for me) but almost always (excluding any serious issue) is to pretend the issue is not a big deal. Practical application: oh you don't want to eat this, ok (and I put the dish away) - nothing else will be served and I try to say that very very neutrally - no negative tone. DD went a few times to bed without dinner. She usually has a big breakfast the next day. I know this makes me harsh a bit but I don't mind if they go hungry for one meal. 

 

As to behaviour - well we have that too but it comes in clusters, I feel every once in a while she's testing me and then gives up on it. I try to always do the same thing. Keep my cool and tell her "Can you please look at me for a second (and I make sure I have her attention) - XYZ is not acceptable at the dinner table".  If she does not stop, I say "ok if you can't stop right now, we'll have to leave the dinner table."  Then I take her (at this point she is crying) and we sit in the bedroom together until she is done crying/screaming/whatever. I give her a hug and we go back to the table. I don't know if this is going to work when she gets older. 

 

I do not "ask" for her to stop. I tell her to stop. I make sure that when "no" is not an ok answer, that I never formulate the question as a request. That helps a lot. I know because DP formulates everything as a request and she's more inclined to "misbehave" with him. 


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#41 of 51 Old 12-28-2013, 11:10 AM
 
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I agree with you, but if a child has medical issues, he/she and the parents need professional help. In the rare cases when the child has an illness - that you mentioned in your post, advice given on a parenting forum will not help.

100% Agree. I thought that the OP had mentioned bringing this up with the pediatrician, but after looking back I seem to have been misremembering. I was mostly disagreeing with the idea that children always eat at meals when hungry and that snacking must be the problem.


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#42 of 51 Old 12-28-2013, 07:30 PM
 
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I think you have gotten a lot of good advice. I really sympathize as I have a couple of picky eaters. I wanted to address the social aspect of how you feel when you are sharing meals with others. We really focus on politeness as a separate issue from eating. We do a lot of practicing before eating with other people. In the car on the way to thanksgiving for example, I will offer them lots of awful sounding foods and they politely decline. "Would you like some green monkey brains?" "No thank you, maybe a bit later." Or I pretend to be the kid and they correct me. "I hate apples! Yuck!" "No mama, just say no thank you." They think it is funny and it really helps.

We just had a week with relatives and there were several meals where they wouldn't really eat anything. I just made sure there was bread and cheese on the table and let them eat that--not the healthiest, but I want to make social times Pleasant and save the battles for another day.

One other thing that works for us is when we have company at our house I will meal plan so it's something the kids will really like, with some variations that are fun for the adults--like a taco bar with lots of different spicy salsas, a complex salad, etc, but the kids can have a more simple selection. Just makes those company dinners more fun for all.
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#43 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 11:24 AM
 
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I'm still reading through the replies to this thread, but I just wanted to lend some support to the OP.  It's like you wrote out my exact concerns about my 3.5yo son.  I LONG for the days of purees when I could shove just about anything in him.... (although now that I think about it, he was pretty picky even back then...)

 

I'm getting some great tips in the replies of how to try new things with my son (like the napkin to spit in, and a yummy drink to chase the single bite) so I'm SO GLAD you took the time to write up your thoughts and look for help from other Mamas!

 

*hugs* to you, LuckyMamaofTwo.  The fact that you're trying, and seeking help to do more speaks volumes about what a good Mama you are.  :)

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#44 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 11:29 AM
 
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I've recently made a shift in our eating habits as I feel like we've been stuck in an eating rut -- eating much of the same things, not very healthy, my kids were requesting too much mac n cheese and sweets. The changes we've made are small but make a huge difference!!

 

First, we quit buying or serving almost anything out of a box or package. Second, we really upped the amount and variety of fruit and vegetables. My kids are now LOVING pomegranate, grapefruit, snap peas, etc. I let them graze -- anytime they want a fruit or veg they can have it.

 

Third, we totally limit sweets. I think that too much sugar really messes with children's appetites and tastes and cravings. My youngest child (5) used to request dessert or treats all the time, now she rarely does. Or, if she does, I offer fruit.

 

Fourth, we keep dinner simple. Rice, roast chicken, stew, couscous, etc. plus raw veggies, olives, cheese and crackers, good bread, etc. and almost all organic, free range. 

 

I do encourage tasting everything but I don't force it. I don't force eating, either, BUT, I save their dinner and if they are hungry later they can eat it.

 

I'm so pleased with it! Much more variety, much healthier!! Good luck!!


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#45 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 11:41 AM
 
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Cutting back snacks is a big help for us. The kids are much hungrier at meal times. It is a challenge to wean them off it if it is a habit. When they do snack, I try to limit it to raw fruits and veggies. "French Kids Eat Everything" has some interesting insight into our food culture and how different it is from how the French approach food.

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#46 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 12:18 PM
 
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We have very similar problems with my toddler. It's chaos. Finally we decided that she has to sit at the table while we are eating. If she won't eat, then we try to just go on with our meal and not give it too much attention. We have started serving salad with our meals which helps bc she loves lettuce with "dip" (dressing.). We let her dip her other veggies in there and too and even meat if she'll do it. It has helped a bit. I'm making turkey tertrazzini tonight and I'm not even going to fight with that. I'll just keep out some turkey and peas for her.

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#47 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 01:32 PM
 
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We've recently entered the realm of picky eaters when our 3rd child turned 2 a few months ago. I have to say up until that point, I had little understanding (or even respect) for other parents' going through this situation until it hit us. And I've kinda been freaking out about it for a while! I so appreciate all the responses and advice, especially from the really seasoned parents (one with multiple kids/fosters kids/etc). Wow -- such great info!

 

My best advice is ---- SMOOTHIES! If my 2 y/o won't eat anything at a meal (or even in a day) she will at least drink smoothies whenever I offer them. And you can sneak so much nutrition in those things! My fave go-to recipe is:

 

1/2 c organic raw, whole milk

1/4 c organic, full-fat, plain or vanilla yogurt

1/8 c coconut oil

1/2 banana (sometimes some frozen blueberries or pineapple)

1-3 Tbsp Great Lakes Gelatin, Collagen Hydrosylate (for extra protein)

1 raw, organic, non-GMO/soy, pasture-raised egg yolk

 

I also add greens from time-to-time but my main concern for my daughter is more the fats and proteins, not so much the greens as we give many nutritional supplements also. 

 

Keep on keeping on parents ... you're all doing your best and that's all we can do!! 

 

{Love & hugs}


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#48 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 02:03 PM
 
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I know this may not exactly win points for politeness, but I have been reading aloud to my kids at the table at almost every meal since my daughter was 2. (she is almost 5 now). It really helped to keep her in her seat and eating. Otherwise she would get up after a couple of bites because she was bored, not because she was full. I know some may say this encourages mindless eating, which is true, but my kids are very skinny, so we aren't too worried about that. The reading has made mealtimes a lot more fun and I guess focused on something besides food fights.
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#49 of 51 Old 01-03-2014, 02:41 PM
 
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This has been one of the most challenging parts of parenting for my husband and I!

Here is what works for us in case it may be helpful:

 

1. We noticed that our son is really hungry in the morning, and therefore eats a huge breakfast, a medium lunch, and barely any dinner (with some snacks in between).  Therefore he's more likely to eat a variety of things in the morning (and try new foods).  So we stopped having a family dinner and began having family breakfast time.  We cook eggs with lots of veggies, homemade pancakes, veggie or almond muffins, etc.  He gets to help out with the cooking and he will usually try anything we make.  I realize this won't work for everyone, but it works for us (we both work, but my husband works from home and I only have a 5 minute commute)  He is also fairly hungry at lunch so will try most things I leave for him (usually left overs from the previous nights dinner).  We no longer eat dinner together as a family because it was turning into a huge battle and my son was out of control at the table (during breakfast and lunch he tends to be pleasant and pretty well behaved).  So he eats a light meal for dinner around 4:30/5 and my husband and I eat after he goes to bed. 

 

2. If he doesn't want to try something I will usually ask him to try a bite and he can spit it out if he doesn't like it.  This works about 1/2 the time, the other half he doesn't want to and I don't push it. 

 

3. Overall I try to make eating enjoyable - we talk a lot about food and where it comes from, we practice cooking in his play kitchen, I am not worried about manners too much (although if he starts throwing food then we just take it away without a fuss).

 

These are the strategies that have worked for our family!

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#50 of 51 Old 01-04-2014, 10:33 AM
 
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I think there is a lot of great advice here. I plan to try some of it out.

What has worked for us so far-- but note that my child is just about to turn two and so I don't think she has entered the picky phase yet... She is in the 20% for her age so i have a bit more leeway and I admit that if she were at the edge it would make keeping to these rules a bit harder. 

 

one note I have a cousin who only ate peas, apples, salmon, yogurt and rice and toast for some 12 years of his life-- truly, these are the only things he would eat.  He grew strong and healthy and now eats most things. I bet the OP's children eat at least 6 things too.  While not ideal, If she is really worried about them starving she could always find the 5 healthiest items they'll eat and just run with it -- telling herself that this too will pass.

 

Behavior: my suggestions would be

1. try to not look upset when she says gross. this will just fuel the fire.  tell her gently that her words might hurt people's feelings each time and let it go.  That is what my family did with us. (I'm told I was very dramatic and liked to grab my throat as I said it as if the offending food was killing me) 

 

2.  When we eat out I never put my child in the high chair/booster until we are eating unless she really, really wants to sit there. Take them to walk around the restaurant it its big enough, even outside if the weather/ location cooperates  (look at rocks in the parking lot, people on the sidewalk etc) for the older ones who may not have the wiggles bring a quiet toy or two for them to play with before the food arrives (once food is on the table I insist on no toys)--remember how boring eating out was as a child if you spend lots of energy and time entertaining them before you eat.  I pretty much ignore everyone else and really focus on the children we are with until food arrives-- that way once the food arrives they have gotten lots of attention and you can enjoy an adult conversation-- and they don't have to be patient/bored for such a long time--hopefully the food will entertain them for little while. 

 

 

 

1. absolutely nothing I don't consider nutritious in the house.  It just doesn't exist in our word so she can't ask for it. Anything she asks for can be given to her at least in moderation without me feeling bad.

 

2.We have desert almost every night but it never has added sugar.  Like many here we treat dessert like other people treat salad there is no amount of food that we need to eat in order to enjoy it.  Instead:
we make homemade frozen yogurt with lots of fruit blended in 
for flavor and sweetness.  

I make a variations of mommypotamus's gummies with either no added sweetener just fruit juice or 1/3 of the honey suggested if its lemon juice.

raisins or dried fruit and nuts

cheese and fruit.

 

3. If D doesn't eat -she doesn't eat.  I confess there have been weeks I have gotten stressed about the lack of food going into her body but she always seems to come around. 

 

4. We have two set snack times (I have considered the fruit bowl but as of now we only eat snacks at appointed times. I really struggle with the right decision on this but in my home country two snacks are traditional-- and am not crazy about kids or adults for that matter grazing all the time --it seems like a bad habit to encourage--at the same time I really like how respectful allowing free access to food is and how it could potentially teach children to listen to their bodies.--at this time we are still going with cultural tradition but it's the one thing I might change) Morning snack is a veggie and bit of protein and fat: broccoli, bell peppers, olives, cheese (note this is nothing like my country where the snack would be very sweet yogurt or a bread of some kind.)the afternoon snack is fruit or or some kind of starchy food.-- harder now that we are limiting wheat (it gives her eczema). 

 

5. meals are whatever I want to cook-- even spicy food--although I have toned down the spicy a bit. -- she sometimes likes it and sometiems doesn't. Sometime she eats a lot sometimes she spits everything out.  (love the spitting bowl-- i will be doing this from now on) The only caveat is that we frquently eat leftovers for lunch BUT if she hated it the night before I try to modify it for lunch or make something else.. Notice that I said I try -- sometimes there is just isn't time and it appears again for lunch-- she almost always refuses it again but once or twice she has surprised me by happily eating what she couldn't stomach the night before.

 

6. Supplements: the mommypotamus gummies, cod liver oil are supplied regularly but not daily. 

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I haven't read through all the replies but I have a really picky 4yo and a 2yo who will try just about anything. To the OP, the important thing is to get healthy foods into the kids, right? The more fruit and vegetables and whole grains the better, but I doubt many of us ate all of our veggies when we were kids. I sure didn't! Give foods that you know they will eat, some foods you want them to eat and rewards or deserts if you want. Meal time shouldn't be a battle.

 

We try little tricks all the time, sometimes they work - sometimes they eat pasta or eggs! We introduce them to everything, they help cook, and we grow most of our own veggies and still, my 4 yo is pretty picky. BUT! It's getting better, for instance, he likes corn either on the cob (preferably uncooked) or frozen (who knows?), he likes to eat cucumbers without the skin and preferably with the tiniest amount of reduced sodium soy sauce. He just started "eating" broccoli and has requested in, even though he only nibbles at the tops. I'll take it, even if the first time he eat brocolli was for an ice cream reward - a rarity! We make "Cat in the Hat" eggs with spinach. And my picky eater loves them and even though he won't eat spinach by itself, he tells me that I didn't put enough in! In our house the one bite rule ends in tears or uneaten food, we'll wait another year or two and them maybe we'll try to enforce it. But sure, I would love it if they ate kale and squash or asparagus!! Maybe next year. :wink

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