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I cook fairly healthy meals and try to make sure each food group is represented at each meal.

The 4yo will gobble up the grain/carb and grudgingly taste the veggies, then say he's full, and then proceed to follow me around whining about how hungry he is until the next meal. He absolutely refuses to eat his veggies that get left out for him. He has some serious poop issues that iI'm fairly certain are due to his diet.

The 2yo refuses anything colorful. Fruit/veggies-- he won't even taste them. He will eat apple sauce and drink smoothies, but I don't like preparing him special meals because I believe they eat what everyone else eats, I'm not a short order cook.

So I've got 2 gluten/grain/carboholic kids that actually WILL go hungry rather than eat the healthy options offered. How can I encourage them to eat better? I've tossed around the idea of withholding the grain/carb part of the meal until they eat the vegetables. should I continue the "you eat what you're given or you don't eat at all approach"? It will work eventually right?
 

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I cook fairly healthy meals and try to make sure each food group is represented at each meal.

The 4yo will gobble up the grain/carb and grudgingly taste the veggies, then say he's full, and then proceed to follow me around whining about how hungry he is until the next meal. He absolutely refuses to eat his veggies that get left out for him. He has some serious poop issues that iI'm fairly certain are due to his diet.

The 2yo refuses anything colorful. Fruit/veggies-- he won't even taste them. He will eat apple sauce and drink smoothies, but I don't like preparing him special meals because I believe they eat what everyone else eats, I'm not a short order cook.

So I've got 2 gluten/grain/carboholic kids that actually WILL go hungry rather than eat the healthy options offered. How can I encourage them to eat better? I've tossed around the idea of withholding the grain/carb part of the meal until they eat the vegetables. should I continue the "you eat what you're given or you don't eat at all approach"? It will work eventually right?
try vegetable pizza made by wheat dough for a healthy option. u can also try soups or veggie candies.
 

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I really like the website/FB page It's Not About Nutrition


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actually WILL go hungry rather than eat the healthy options offered. How can I encourage them to eat better? I've tossed around the idea of withholding the grain/carb part of the meal until they eat the vegetables. should I continue the "you eat what you're given or you don't eat at all approach"? It will work eventually right?
My 3 y/o is like this. (The 5 y/o has very healthy tastes and has always eaten and enjoyed a large variety of veggies and proteins.)

I basically do what you said. I put the food on their plates, typically with just a spoonful of the grain dish for the 3 y/o. If she finishes the grain, she has to eat at least 1-2 bites of protein or veggie to get more grain. Repeat.

My husband does breakfast and he does the same: presents them both with a big plate of fruit, and they work on that while he prepares whatever else.

I also pay attention to whatever veggies she does eat and make sure to offer them regularly, at times when other food is not on offer. Like I will just show up with a plate of raw carrot, cucumber, or sugar snap peas and feed her a few while she is playing.

And I don't prepare separate meals but I do try to make sure the meals are all things they like and will eat. If I want to try a new item I will serve it alongside other things I already know they like, and not make a big deal if they don't eat it. I will just keep having it show up for at least 4-5 meals alongside everything else. Often by the 3rd or 4th time they see it it has the patina of familiarity and they will start eating it without issue. After about 5 meals if they still don't like it I won't make it again.
 

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Try cooking different recipes like Bread Pizzas,Banana Walnut Muffins,Vegetable Frankies,Carrot and Apple Date Sandwich,Crispy Rice Balls. These are healthy also I think, your kids might eat these.
 

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My 3 y/o is like this. (The 5 y/o has very healthy tastes and has always eaten and enjoyed a large variety of veggies and proteins.)

I basically do what you said. I put the food on their plates, typically with just a spoonful of the grain dish for the 3 y/o. If she finishes the grain, she has to eat at least 1-2 bites of protein or veggie to get more grain. Repeat.

My husband does breakfast and he does the same: presents them both with a big plate of fruit, and they work on that while he prepares whatever else.

I also pay attention to whatever veggies she does eat and make sure to offer them regularly, at times when other food is not on offer. Like I will just show up with a plate of raw carrot, cucumber, or sugar snap peas and feed her a few while she is playing.

And I don't prepare separate meals but I do try to make sure the meals are all things they like and will eat. If I want to try a new item I will serve it alongside other things I already know they like, and not make a big deal if they don't eat it. I will just keep having it show up for at least 4-5 meals alongside everything else. Often by the 3rd or 4th time they see it it has the patina of familiarity and they will start eating it without issue. After about 5 meals if they still don't like it I won't make it again.
Same here for all, but we have a "you don't have to like it but you do have to try it" rule, at least one bite of everything. Lately,the 4yo has tried to pass with teeny little nibbles but we shoot that down right away. It was a major battle of wills for awhile back when he was somewhere around 2-3 but being consistent and firm has paid off for us, not that it's not sometimes still a battle! Our 1yo is so far an enthusiastic eater, but I imagine that will change!

I struggle with trusting their internal satiety instincts, or, maybe it's more that I have a hard time giving them space to figure out their internal satiety cues. "Just one more bite" is a habit I am trying to break. Ellyn Sattern's mantra "you decide when and what they eat, they decide how much" is my goal, but it's hard!

Also, and this one was hard for me to implement but has paid off, we make them sit at the dining table to eat or drink just about anything. Maybe a glass of water standing in the kitchen or frozen smoothie pops in the backyard, but otherwise every glass of milk or snack of any kind is also sitting down. Less mess, less choke hazard, and hopefully a better attitude about snacking on the long term!

Do any of you allow nighttime snacks? When our oldest was about 2 we allowed snacks before bed, but now at 4 we've changed tack and allow him to eat more of what we had for dinner, as long as he hasn't brushed teeth yet. After that it's water only. We just don't want him one, thinking he can holdout at dinner and eat later, or two, get used to eating later and have it screw his body clock up.

I've also been intending for years to set up a "template" menu for each week, tacos on Monday, pasta on Tuesday, etc etc That allows for some variation in ingredients but sets the expectation that "this is what there is."
 

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Well I am glad I found this thread because I stress about my 3 year old eating his veggies too. Honestly the only thing that works because he very much wants to be in charge and make the choice on principle is to offer a sweet thing after the meal if he has eaten his veggies (which need to actually taste good and not be "spicy").

Everyone seems to say not to do this but I try to just keep it positive. No nagging, only 2 mentions of the reward (one "last chance" to eat it for a dumdum, for example) and heavy praise and playfulness about eating different colors of food for "green power" and other colors as well.

I try to remind him it is his body and his choice but he can choose to have whatever kind of power it is. This is kind of unorthodox and it can get raucous but it is the only thing that works right now for us and our personalities.
 

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Try cooking different recipes like Bread Pizzas,Banana Walnut Muffins,Vegetable Frankies,Carrot and Apple Date Sandwich,Crispy Rice Balls. These are healthy also I think, your kids might eat these.
I tried these recipes too , well some of it and it really helps.
 

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Vegetables don't replace the metabolic requirement of carbs, fat does. Vegetables are basically for vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Carbs are for quick energy & fast growth. Fat is for lasting energy/metabolic health/slow growth such as bone & teeth.

There is a baseline protein range for every person, are your kids getting enough protein? Don't count milk products, which are loaded with natural sugars. I mean eggs, meat, beans, fish, cheese. The remainder of a meal should be fats & veg. Creamed spinach is a good way to get kids to eat greens. Also southern-style greens, which are cooked with bacon and butter. Real macaroni & cheese, made rich, can include some peas or broccoli.

Check the nutritional profile of the foods. People are being told to eat too many vegetables. When I ran the recommended servingss of veg through a nutritional calculator the mineral and vitamins were at 200% in some cases. What is needed and undersold is the vitamins and metabolic support that fats supply, especially for children.

You can limit sugars like fruit or dessert to one snack a day and don't include them with meals. Serving fruit before the dinner doesn't sound like a good idea if you want the kids to eat the meal that follows.

A kid full of meat & cheese isn't going to be hungry. That's the carbs talking.
 

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We used this approach and it worked well:

1. Ignore picky eating
2. Once the kids are old enough, let them serve themselves.
3. Never ask the kids to try any food.
4. Don't be a short-order cook. You choose what is served.
5. If a kid say they don't like something, ignore it, don't discuss it.
6. Give healthy eating and healthy food lots of enthusiastic attention. Focus attention on any healthy eater, your spouse, yourself, any kid, anyone who is eating healthy food. Have discussions about healthy food and healthy eating. If a kid happens to eat something healthy, give that positive attention, particularly at first.
7. Make a limited number and amount of foods available that you know the kids will eat.
8. If kids are underweight or losing weight, talk to your doctor about it. (But this never happened with us.)

Our 2 kids ended up eating lots of veggies. But, we did this from day one, so we used it for prevention. I think it would work for turning things around, but I have no experience with that.
 

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You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink, right? I use the division of responsibility as others outlined above. I serve family style and let kids pick and choose what to eat. This helps because we are a family of control freaks, kids included. :) they like the control. I know this sounds harsh, but in my childhood (raised by an immigrant) the attitude was that food is a privilege and a labor of love. Dinner didn't grow on trees, so to speak. It made me appreciate the effort of cooking. I try to lovingly apply that logic in my house by talking to them about how food is made. Also, we try to eat a larger meal at lunch rather than dinner. the kids seem to be more game for different foods earlier in the day when their appetites are larger. That said, most days I eat all the Swiss chard while my kids eat grapes and crackers. C'est la vie.
 

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picky eating

I'd really try not to focus too much on carbs as they become the forbidden fruit that some kids will put intense focus on needing to acquire (like candy), my friends kids were like that. I'd put a balanced meal in front of them, then leave them to it. Consider all types of veg/fruit meals, cold, raw, salads as well as cooked. I didn't focus too much on wether it was fruit or veg too much as long as my son was eating a variety of differently coloured foods, my son hated cooked green veg (like beans) but will eat raw spinach and lettuce. Kids will respond to different strategies, some I've heard will eat food they cook or grow but that never worked with my kid. He would respond to peer pressure, eating stuff with other kids he'd never normally eat. We just kept putting food in front of him and reserved comments, putting no value on one thing or another and he would eat surprising things like olives, octopus and hummus. Make sure the carbs are whole grain as much as possible, that might curb the binging too. The dessert after dinner never worked for us because then my son would stop eating his meal and focus on how he wasn't getting dessert, but I did sometimes incorporate dessert into the whole meal like an apple crisp. Avoid juice or milk during the meal, and encourage drinking less as you eat, making the meal about eating not filling up on liquids. Also offer the "better" foods when the kids are most hungry (breakfast usually) as they may be less picky then. Have tomato pizza or veggie omelette in the morning instead of for dinner.
 

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As long as your kids are growing well, I wouldn't worry too much about it. We have had what from what you say sound like similar goals, and we've done pretty well with this. Kids are now 71/2 and 9, one eats vegetables enthusiastically and the other eats them with prompting, as his route to seconds of whatever he likes better. He was the carb hound when they were little.

- We didn't ever cook separately for them or make a lot of dumbed-down food. We never, ever eat mac and cheese as a family - that's their babysitter treat.
- We did try to always include something that we knew they liked if there was something new or something they didn't like
- We never offered rewards like candy for eating something
- We use smallish portions of the "favorites" and required Mr. No-Vegetables to eat everything on his plate before he could have seconds of anything. He might honestly still be hungry after the first helping, but his desire for more of the carbs did most of the time overcome his aversion to the vegetables and he has always grown well.
- We give him minimal portions of what he doesn't like
- Dessert is like seconds, but we try not to distinguish it in how we talk about it. It's not a reward: a person has to eat what they have before they get anything more
- Lots of healthy snacks, never processed/prepackaged things. Fresh sliced fruit, dried fruit, nuts, vegetable slices
- Keep the exposure to junk food minimal as long as you can

Honestly, it was a pain in the butt for a long time. Trying to make healthy things available to them all the time and make sure they got enough to grow on.
 

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Have you tried plain old hunger?

Kids today rarely experience it. My kids were a lot less picky after a few long afternoons at the park with minimal snack-age. Yes, they grumbled a bit while I made dinner those nights but then they dove into the food because they were actually hungry. So hungry that they didn't give me their usual complaints. "I don't eat that!" "It looks funny." Problem solved. It didn't magically make them like everything but it did get them to eating our repertoire of family foods.
 

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my nanny introduced my son to biscuits and now he wants to eat them all the time so I have banned them from the house!

Fortunately he loves fruit and broccoli :)
 

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After our granny introduced my son to sausages, he started asking only them for every meal. It was my nightmare! The only thing that came to my mind was ordering a sausage stuffer (you can read more about this device here). Now I make chicken sausages and even vegetable sausages by myself >:D If you can't change it, change your attitude :wink:
 
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