Do you have a picky eater?

10 Jan

Do you have kids?  I bet at least one is picky!!!  If you don’t have a picky eater, consider yourself blessed.  Don’t be fooled in to thinking it is because you are exposing them to everything early on and nothing more.  It IS exposure, but it is ALSO that child!

Remember that you really do need to expose your kids to lots of foods.  They need to see it on their plates, see you enjoying it, try it, over and over and over before they may even take a bite, much less like it.  Their are “magical” numbers like 20 floating around.  I am not exactly sure what the number is, but it is a lot.  Bottom line, keep making it, keep putting it on their plates.  Don’t give up!

If you haven’t figured this out from my blog, our family rates everything we eat at home on a scale of 1-10.  It helps us know how we all truly feel about things. It also helps the kids learn to articulate why they like certain flavors/textures/combos.  We started this when I went vegan and I highly recommend it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

For us occasionally, Reid will down an entire plate full of food and give it a 2.  He is not a picky eater at all.  But we have learned what he actually likes instead of just assuming he liked it because he ate it.

Daniella, on the other hand, picks at her food.  Occasionally, she will rate something an 8 and only take a few bites. In the past, we would have assumed she didn’t like it.  To be honest, she just doesn’t like much dinner food.  And we are okay with that.  As long as she tries it.  We do not make her anything else to eat.  She gets whatever is made for the family. But she knows this and just willingly prefers to not eat dinner.  It is no longer a war because we have fought many, many years of battles.  Hang in there, parents!  It is worth the fight.  I can tell you that this girl who picks at food, now loves salad with vegan dressings, roasted veggies, pretty much anything Greek, and olives.  She will now TRY almost anything, including things that are mixed, ie…casseroles and soups. Homegirl likes her food separated!  I am not going to say she doesn’t occasionally gag at the table.  Because she does!  But oh the joy of seeing her mature and WANT to like new and healthy things.

The norm in our house is this: Reid rates most things about a 7 or 8, though a few times a week something will blow up the scale and get a 100, and Dani usually rates things about a 3.  Nearly everything.

Here is how we fight the dinnertime war!

  • Fruit is not on the dinner table.  We found that it created problems because that is all they wanted to eat.  Fruit is now snack before every bedtime.  The kids can count on coming down for almond milk and some sort of fruit before bed.  They love it!  It is a dessert to them.
  • We have never made them clean their plates.  They eat what they eat. If they are hungry later, they can wait for fruit.  Or they can hear us say for the millionth time in their life, “You should have eaten your dinner!”
  • No seconds on anything unless they have eaten all of their food.  This is especially important if they don’t want to eat a veggie, but they really want more pasta.  They will down that veggie to get more of what they want.
  • We will often give them a first course of salad.  This ensures they are getting raw veggies in before anything else.  A huge mistake for us: dressing the salad for them.  For Daniella, that works. For Reid, he HATES salad dressing and likes undressed salad.   Once they finish or eat whatever amount we think is appropriate, they can move on to their main course.
  • Lucky has taught me to not fight over food.  The dinner table is a place for peace.  No feelings are involved. This one is hard for me because the kids can actually hurt my feelings by rejecting my food.  Kind of embarrassing, I know.  But true.  He is good about making it about a choice regarding food and nothing else.
  • We spent YEARS of making Dani take a number of bites of her food.  She would sit down and instantly ask, “How many bites?”  I wish we hadn’t done that.  But we did what we did to survive. What we do now as a compromise is tell them for every bite of what they want, they need to take one bite of what they don’t want.  We just say, “A bite for a bite.”  And they know what that means.
  • We definitely battled at the dinner table.  And we still do occasionally.  But our main goal at the table was 1) to chat as a family and 2) to teach our kids to eat foods that will nourish them their whole lives. It is never too late to change courses.  Eating largely vegan drastically changed our meal course because I stopped preparing meats.  And you know what?  They are less picky now than they have ever been!  And they still eat about the same amount of food.  They haven’t lost weight or gotten gangely.  I can’t say they aren’t skinny b/c they are.  They got their daddy’s genes NO DOUBT!  But that has been in place forever.

And if you are wondering, Daniella approved of this post.  She is open about all of this and I don’t want anyone to think she would be embarrassed.

How do you deal with picky eaters?

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One Response to “Do you have a picky eater?”

  1. Lory January 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    This is so encouraging to me. We have one that is insanely picky and sounds much like Dani is/was. He is not a meat eater though and I worry about enough protein for him. He lives off of peanut butter sandwiches! Dinner is always a battle and I can’t stand it. We always make him try it at least. He doesn’t have to finish but he gets nothing else later when he is hungry. I am hoping that maturity will help. Thanks for the ideas and affirmation!

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