Food For Thought

I just watched the latest video at momversation entitled “Are your kids bad eaters?” Talk about food for thought! I swear MM has two different eating personalities, or else something has changed so recently that it still hasn’t sunk in for me yet. It seems like just the other day, I commented gloated that MM will “eat anything.” I’m not sure which MM I was talking about because I am pretty sure I can list out for you right here what MM will eat:

  • cheerios (or basic equivalent thereof)
  • macaroni and cheese
  • hot dogs
  • macaroni and cheese WITH hot dogs
  • gold fish, teddy grahams, etc.
  • yogurt, string cheese and almost every other kind of dairy although he will occasionally turn down a glass of milk
  • pasta with meatballs or meat sauce or plain with Parmesan cheese
  • pizza – this is the amazing thing – for the most part, he’ll eat any pizza we make – the only topping I’ve seen him turn down is black olives
  • grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly or turkey and cheese sandwiches, but whether or not he’ll eat the turkey is questionable

And oh right dessert – or any breakfast food that might as well be dessert like pancakes, waffles or french toast. And you know I’m looking at this list, thinking, “That’s not so bad. I bet there are kids out there who will eat way less than this – did I mention my kid will eat spinach? Oh yes, that’s right. So in some ways, he’s a very good eater with a varied diet and about half the nights in the week he will likely eat dinner. But then there are the foods he won’t eat.

  • Chicken. Of any kind. Well, that’s not true – he’ll eat chicken nuggets sometimes at Wendys – but the night I made him homemade chicken nuggets, which were delicious by the way, he refused to eat them. Or anything else on the plate.
  • Pork, Ham, Hamburgers, Steak, Fish
  • Almost all vegetables – sometimes he seems to like broccoli but not often enough to count on it. He likes corn but not on the cob.
  • Enchiladas or anything else which is assembled in a way that makes it unclear what he’ll find inside.
  • Sometimes he’ll refuse an entire dish because of one or two elements within the meal – like if I make spaghetti and meatballs – that’s okay, but if it’s spaghetti with chicken – that might be vetoed altogether.
  • Potatoes – baked, mashed, diced – almost all kinds, sometimes even french fries (right – I know – I don’t really like french fries either, but he was normal about them at one point, like his father)
  • chili and most soups and stews

So it’s a toss up. His diet is varied enough that I almost feel like I could work with it – but when he decides he doesn’t like something, it’s the way he goes about informing me that drives me up the wall. It’s when he turns down an entire meal without even tasting it that I get testy. I know that growing up I was required to at least try things. I don’t mind if he doesn’t finish a meal, if he at least makes an attempt to try things. So sometimes that’s my only prerequisite – just try it. I’ll choose my battles if you will and demand simply that he: Taste it. How hard is that?

Sometimes we’ve offered dessert as a reward but very rarely, because it seems to me that this is sending the wrong message, but sometimes you are just having that night and you don’t care about the message, you just want peace – you just want a night that works. And what about when you are at a birthday party or family dinner and dessert comes? Do you let them have dessert if they didn’t eat dinner – didn’t even try it? How do you work around the fact that your entire family is dying to watch him eat cake because apparently the art of eating cake as a child is high entertainment or something. Do you cave for just those occasions and then try to pick back up again in the privacy of your own dungeon home?

Sometimes I feel that every night is a battle – ending with us begging and pleading him to eat – and I wonder if we simply pretended not to care, if all this picky eating would go away? But what about when he turns down dinner flat out, refusing to try a bite, and then an hour later of course they are starving. Especially when bedtime comes around – “How can I go to dinner when I’m still. so. hungry?” And your heart breaks a little. And sometimes you let them have a bit of string cheese or some milk, but then other times you are not feeling so gracious, because they are the picky jerks who turned down the meal you slaved over, certain they’d love it, and you say, “Maybe you should have thought of that before you turned down dinner.” Or, “Nobody ever starved between lunch and breakfast,” or some other evil thing.

Sometimes I wonder if I don’t get this right, will I lose for good? Is there a point in this battle where you make it or break it? Have I already lost? Am I asking too much? And it seems pretty obvious to me that all kids at least go through a picky phase, if not a picky lifetime. Does it go away on it’s own or is there a secret mommy weapon that we aren’t given until we get really desperate and start groveling to the fates for pity? Is there a passcode? An initiation? Is this all just a parent club hazing technique? When do I get a beer? Actually, can I have wine – and actually – can I have a rain check?

Are your kids picky eaters? What aspects of their pickiness drive you nuts the most? Do you have any secret tricks to get them to eat? Have you gotten the passcode yet?

6 Comments

  1. Oh, the woes of getting a child to eat. It doesn’t get any better. I like to say that Alex isn’t a picky eater, he’s just a pain in the ass. He likes some very strange foods, but won’t eat some normal ones that most kids love. Zach, we’re still trying to figure out his eating habits.

    I am the mean mom. You get what is served. You must try at least one bite. If you don’t like it, the next meal is breakfast.

    We do try to include at least one thing with the meal that the kids like so they’re not completely starving. What they’ll eat often changes on a daily basis so it gets to be a pain.

    One thing I have noticed with both of my kids is the more we leave them alone, the more likely they are to eat. A child who initially refuses to eat something, if ignored and not pushed, often ends up eating and liking that thing. I know it’s hard not to remind them to eat but if you and Dan just eat your dinners and have a normal conversation, basically ignoring MM, then he may surprise you.

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  2. My nephew will only eat marmite sandwiches, sausages rolls and yoghurts. How he is surviving on such an unhealthy diet I will never know. MM is doing fine.

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  3. @ workingmomma247 : MM is already doing the gagging thing – is that a bad sign? We’ve even tried the evil “we’ll just serve it to you for breakfast” thing – Dan’s parents did that when they were kids and it worked on all but their 3rd child (out of four kids). Doesn’t work on MM. Of course.

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  4. You summed it all up beautifully. I believe you listed the 5 year olds hates and likes to a tee. -What drives me nuts is the aspect that they dont even try it and then whine and cry that their hungry an hour later or right at bedtime. I have tried giving him him dinner back to him when he asks that he is hungry and sometimes he’ll pick around and eat a few bites. This usually works if I try and stick to my guns and not in a I surrender mood. I’m going to guess that when they get around 10ish they are so ravenously hungry all the time that the pickiness subsides (at least from what I can tell)
    My 9 year old however, is also very very picky and will not touch anything of the vegetable variety to save his life. He literally gags when he puts it in his mouth. It’s so hard to tell if he is a really good actor or the green bean really is making him die an unpleasant death.

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