How do you deal with a picky eater? 9 years old? Are any of your kids picky eaters?
It’s a constant battle in our house.
Weary Mom in the Food War
Step out of the battle.
I am a picky eater. There I admit it.
I have always been a picky eater. When I was a kid my mother would frequently make meals that I wouldn’t finish. She would make me sit there from dinner time until bedtime staring at the plate before she would wrap it up and put it into the refrigerator. Then it would come out for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner, and breakfast the food cold, congealed, and still unappetizing. Imagine that. It would go on for a couple of days sometimes. It was a test of wills, a stand off in which neither of us ever won anything.
There was not a single time that I ate the food. And certain foods still make me gag involuntarily in a way I am willing to bet would not have happened had I been allowed to have my own say in what went into my body.
I wrote this blog post two years ago about being a picky eater.
Then this past weekend I was at a party. My friend was raving about this pork stuff she had cooking in her crockpot that you make sandwiches with. She wanted me to have one. She lifted the lid of her crockpot and I have never in my life seen something that looked more revolting to me. I could not believe she was going to put that stuff that looked and smelled like vomit on a roll and want me to eat it.
I am 35 years old and I could not control myself. As she scooped it out, I gagged.
Really, I don’t know where my son gets it from
In my defense I was pregnant. I could probably control the gagging a little more nowadays. Maybe.
And so when I hear people talking about their picky kids and employing similar techniques I can’t help but cringe, and wonder what exactly the message is that you want to be sending your children.
I have one child who will eat everything, a couple who eat most things, a couple who are on the pickier side, and one who must photosynthesize, so great is his pickiness.
I hear people also say that they want their children to be polite when they are at other people’s houses and not shun the food. That they are raising them to have a broader appetite. To me all those things are seperate.
To me the bigger issue isn’t whether or not my children eat a particular food, it is their manners, being kind, and being respectful. Likewise I treat them with respect and do not try and force them to eat things they don’t like by threatening them or manipulating them. I
I do not cook alternate meals. What I make for dinner is what is for dinner. Usually there is something that everyone likes in a given meal. If I know that someone, I am thinking of one child in particular, won’t be happy, I make sure there is an abundance of bread and butter on the table.
Desserts are not rewards. No food is better than any other food. If there is a dessert planned for a given night, everyone has it no matter if they ate or didn’t eat. We don’t often have dessert as I think the kids snack enough on junk food during the day.
What do you do when you spend so much time preparing a meal and your child(ren) refuse to eat it?
I get annoyed. Of course I do I am human. But I try to address with them the reason that I am angry, which has nothing to do with them actually eating the food. The reason I get mad is that I have spent my time preparing a delicious and nutrious meal and they are being rude and unappreciative of my hard work. That is the crux of the issue. At least take a small taste. At the very least don’t make gagging noises. At least be respectful enough of my feelings to make an effort at being nice.
What if they go to someone elses home and don’t like the food that is served?
When you are a guest somewhere you are expected to be polite. You never ever complain that you don’t like what your host is serving. If the food is served to you on the plate, you are expected to eat what you like, not make a big deal about not eating the rest, and if you are asked say, “Everything was delicious. I am just not very hungry tonight.” I like to role play with my children and give them appropriate answers so that they aren’t caught off guard and end up blurting out, “It was all gross and disgusting!”
Likewise I hate it when people come to my house and their child refuses to eat anything that there is and it turns into this whole power struggle between the child and parents. With the child refusing to eat the food that is out, the parents threatening that they will not get desserts, the parents finally bargaining if they just eat x number of bites they can have a dessert.
Don’t ask the hostess to prepare a special meal for your child (barring of course any allergies which is not what I am talking about, but thought I would throw it in there before someone else brings it up). Letting your child fill up on bread and desserts one night isn’t going to kill them. Really, it isn’t. And all of you will probably have a lot more fun. And isn’t that what is important in the larger picture?
Wow, glad I got that off my chest. Can you tell it is a pet peeve of mine. One of the many unfortunately.
You can not force your children to do anything. The sooner in your parenting journey you realize it, the better.
Tips for making meal time more enjoyable:
1)Let the children help in chosing the meals. If they can read, let them look through a cookbook to pick something out. They are much more likely to be excited about something new if they chose it and helped prepare it themself. And they may just surprise you with their choices.
2) Think outside the box. Serve things your children like as a side dish while you introduce a new food. Fruit salad, bread with butter, penne with grated parmesean cheese are all side diushes my children will gladly eat.
3) Remember that kid friendly food does not have to be prepackaged garbage. Whoever invented Lunchables, pizza pockets, and the like as the standard for kid friendly food should be shot. (Okay not really shot, maybe slapped a few times?)
4) Instead of offering junk food snacking in the afternoon before dinner, limit it to healthy things, cheese squares, fruit, dried fruit, peanut butter on crackers. At least you know then if they don’t eat their dinner they have filled up on thinsg that are good for them.
5) If you have sons, realize that there will come an age when they are growing so fast they will eat anything. My oldest son is approaching this stage now and while on one hand I am so happy to see him eat everything that isn’t nailed down, on the other hand I am horrified at the thought of five more boys eating everything that isn’t nailed down. I may take up permanent residence in Stop & Shop.
6) Keep the big picture in mind. Mealtimes are as much about fueling your soul as it is about fueling your bodies.