So you probably went down the internet rabbit hole & landed here by reading about picky kids and trying to get them to eat their veggies. In a way, that’ s not what this is about. Ironically, in our house we have a picky eater or two, but the worst suspects? Oh, that’d be the adults. I’m gonna call myself out here (and those of you who are not getting served up on the web-you are welcome & you know who you are). I am a picky eater. I spent large amounts of my childhood taking stances against cooked veggies, chicken baked with rice, and foods touching each other, to name a few. By large amount of childhood I mean well into adulthood. I would happily eat off of those divided plates for toddlers, if my children (who have long since outgrown them) wouldn’t look at me like I was crazy. And let’s face it, they do that often enough. I do eat (some) cooked veggies now and I’m good with a casserole, I even eat the chicken and rice (I once vomited a meal of chicken & rice-I was already sick- but I was probably about 25 before I could stomach the idea of eating the two together again. I love raw veggies, salad, all by their lonesome, but you cook them? Well now you’ve messed with the texture. *shudder* Most of my food dislikes revolve around texture and appearance (like a three year old I’d live off of pasta if I could). I would have forgone food altogether if I didn’t get hungry. Some things I did like, biscuits, chicken nuggets, fries, (you can see where this is going) but I was the kid who said things like “corn off the cob?! Ewww!” Sorry Mom. I did quit saying things like that out loud, but I never did start eating them. I just started saying things like, “No thank you. I’m just stuffed. But it looks wonderful.” So , you might be thinking, but you cook foods like you just described not liking. No I didn’t start eating foods I don’t like (there are things you couldn’t pay me to eat), but I did teach myself to like a wider variety of foods. What prompted the change? Silly what prompts most changes in a Mom’s life?
Cue the children. At first they were breastfed, then baby food, etc, it didn’t matter what I ate. Then I realized something, I didn’t want my daughter to eat like me. So what to do? I started making kid friendly, well balanced meals. I made rules, you don’t have to finish your plate, but that’s all the food available until you do. (This one has resulted in lovely leftover potpie for breakfast and other weird combos) I don’t say these rules in a mean way, just matter of fact like. Almost as though I have no control (ie I am not free to negotiate) I just shrug and say, “well that’s the rule at our house.” Now, I also do not ever put more than a tablespoon size amount of anything that a child doesn’t like or has never tried before. When they point out the offending item I point out the size of the portion “yeah, aren’t you glad that’s all there is?”It’s kinda like my own social experiment. I also started following the rule. I make one meal and we all sit down and eat (sometimes work, etc interferes with this, but never more than 3 nights in a week). That’s right even Miss Picky Eating Queen here eats 1 tablespoon of canned green beans (uggh).
I have started liking some foods, I discovered I like mushrooms and onions and cooked bell peppers, raw spinach is actually really good, little green peas are sweet when you use the frozen ones in a dish, I was completely surprised by each of these revelations. What’s really great though? I can take my kids out to eat (could even as toddlers) and they would eat a real meal. I can take kids to someone’s
house and they try everything, and like things that make me shudder to think about eating. I have a child who loves those peas, straight out of the can! I’ve got three kids who love going to authentic Mexican restaurants to try new dishes! I have a child who recently moaned over how great the green beans were! These kids love sweet potatoes, any veggie I have ever served (except cooked spinach), all kinds of spicy, sour, “adult” main dishes. I even have one who dislikes mac and cheese, “cause it’s so boring”! Now I am not saying that these kids eat wonderfully every day or have through every stage of their lives, those would be lies. (and there was once a two year old who went on a hunger strike that would have made Ghandi look like a glutton) But I can tell you that all in all they eat great, still better than me, but I have goals.
If any of these “rules” help you with your picky eater, you’re welcome. If not? It’s cool, give him/her a chewable vitamin & a pediasure and rest easy, they’ll grown up and work on it themselves. Don’t you have something else to
obsess worry about? I think when we take the stress away from food, and let the healthy things be fun again, that’s when us picky eaters can learn to shine. (and embrace a bruise on an apple)
Do you have any tips for expanding a picky eater’s horizons?